Liverpool – West Bromwich Albion (Premier League)
Last season West Bromwich Albion pulled a double over Liverpool, 3-0 on the opening day of the Premier League at The Hawthorns before following that up with a 2-0 victory at Anfield Road. On top of that an unbeaten five-game-streak has them on a really good place right now, as a team. However, they will face a side in a pretty nice form themselves. And if you are Liverpool, sitting third at the table and nesting serious ambitions for this Premier League season, you only have one idea in mind: the Baggies are going down. But will they? That is the question.
If one looks at it from an objective perspective this should prove to be a routine home win for Liverpool. But dig a little deeper and the Merseysiders may not have it their way.
Brendan Rodgers’ team are currently 3th, level on points with Chelsea, and just two away from leader Arsenal. Furthermore, they have been an exciting squad to follow, specially since Suárez returned from suspension. The Reds, who drew 2-2 at Newcastle United last weekend, will once more expect their powerful front pairing – SAS – to inspire them. Daniel Sturridge is the Premier League’s top scorer with 7 goals and some consider that both him and Suárez are worth about 30 goals per season, which means an overall sum of 60 for Liverpool. If anything they seem to feed on and complement each other’s game.
Play-maker Philippe Coutinho has returned to training but it is more likely he will be in contention for the Arsenal clash. It is probable that Jose Enrique is sidelined for the second successive week as his knee problem continues. Despite having a near-fully fit squad to choose from, Rodgers is very much aware of the challenge West Bromwich Albion poses, after all they have won the last three encounters without conceding.
Probable lineup: Mignolet – Kolo Touré, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho – Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Glenn Johnson, Aly Cissokho – David Moses – Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge.
West Brom‘s start in this 2013/14 league was not exactely brilliant. They fell to Southampton (0-1) at home and draw 0-0 with Everton. But now Clarke’s team are on a five-match unbeaten run in the Premier League that includes a 2-1 victory over Manchester United, at Old Trafford last month, and then they forced Arsenal to a stalemate. It is also their longest stretch without defeat since April 2011. They sit at an unremarkable 12th place but are consistenly standing their ground. The problem being the squad has yet to find a decent replacement for Romelu Lukaku. Shane Long does not cut it, Anichebe is still green and Nicolas Anelka has past his prime.
Boss Steve Clarke announced that Scott Sinclair, on-loan winger from Manchester City, is not travelling to Anfield Road on Saturday due to a hamstring injury. Goalkeeper Ben Foster (foot), Zoltan Gera (hamstring) and George Thorne (knee) are long-term absentees.
Probable lineup: Boaz Myhill – Billy Jones, Gareth McAuley, Liam Ridgewell, Jonas Olsson – Claudio Yacob, Morgan Amalfitano – Saido Berahino, Youssuf Mulumbu, Stéphane Sessegnon – Victor Anichebe.
This Saturday game at Alfield will provide a real test of the host’s aspirations for the season. The Baggies are a well organised team, with plenty of talented players and a great record against Liverpool in recent times. Still, this is a fixture that Liverpool is expected to win and they know it. The ball is in their court.