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WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Anfield, Liverpool

October 26 2013; 15:00 GMT

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Liverpool will go into this fixture at third place in the League table; while West Brom have been undefeated in their last 5 League games. After dropping two points against 10-man Newcastle last weekend, the Reds will look to get back to winning ways and consolidate their position in the Top end of the table, for now. TheHardTackle takes a look at what to expect.

Team News and Tactics

Liverpool

Luis Alberto - Liverpool attacking midfielder | Liverpool vs West Brom preview

Will Luis Alberto start on Saturday?

Brendan Rodgers has a near full-strength squad to choose from, for Saturday’s game. Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho played for the whole of 90 minutes during the away draw at Newcastle. Philippe Coutinho has returned to training from his shoulder injury; however, as admitted by the manager, the home game against West Brom might be too soon for him. One can expect Luis Alberto to make his first Premier League start for the Reds, given that he came on as a substitute and gave a fair account of himself.

Given his propensity to give defenders an extended run of games until injury, Rodgers could persist with a back three of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho. Henderson could also get another game in central midfield, despite the availability of Lucas Leiva. Given West Brom’s strength in defending the middle of the park, the 3-4-1-2 formation could actually prove useful as it gives Johnson and Cissokho the license to roam the flanks throughout the game, knowing that the Baggies’ play just one striker up front.

Probable Starting Lineup (3-4-1-2): Mignolet; Toure, Skrtel, Sakho; Johnson, Henderson, Gerrard, Cissokho; Alberto; Sturridge, Suarez

West Bromwich Albion

Steve Clarke - West Brom manager

West Brom are a solid unit under Steve Clarke’s management

The Baggies endured a difficult start to their Premier League season, losing 2 of their first 3 games, but have come back strongly to stay unbeaten since the close of the summer transfer window. Beninese attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon has added drive and creativity to their squad and should be at the centre of their attacking intentions during the game. Frenchman Morgan Amalfitano could also prove to be a handful for Aly Cissokho on the right wing.

West Bromwich Albion are a well-drilled squad under manager Steve Clarke, who knows a thing or two about some of Liverpool’s players having worked as Kenny Dalglish’s assistant. The Baggies’ solidity comes from their centre back pairing of Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson defending deep, supported by the defensive midfield pairing of Yousouff Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob. Liam Ridgewell and Billy Jones occupy the full back positions on either side, but do not burst forward like most others in the modern game. The Birmingham-based club have their fair share of injury worries. Ben Foster is still out with a broken foot; and has lost his place to Welshman Boaz Myhill. Scott Sinclair will also miss out, with the manager preferring not to risk his hamstring injury.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-1-1): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Yacob, Sessegnon; Berahino; Anelka

Player to Watch

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard - Liverpool captain | Liverpool vs West Brom

Gerrard will have a point to prove after Fergie’s comments

In order for Liverpool to get a positive result on Saturday, the captain must bring his A-game. He has been found to tire during the second half of games this season, and has been exposed by Lucas’ lack of mobility. However, there is no one who has a long passing range like this man, and this could prove essential in helping bring the wingbacks into the game. The captain is also a threat at set pieces, which could prove crucial as the Reds look to record a league win over the Baggies for the first time since 2011.

Key Facts

  1. At 91.4%, Mamadou Sakho currently has the highest pass percentage among all Liverpool players this season.
  2. Liverpool have failed to defeat West Brom in the last three Premier League meetings between the two clubs.
  3. West Brom have been undefeated in 5 Premier League games, including the 2-1 victory over champions Manchester United.

Prediction

Liverpool 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

This could be a game where the 3-4-1-2 formation works for Liverpool; however, the effectiveness of the midfield and forward players could be limited by the Baggies’ midfield duo of Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob. Expect the Reds to be on the front foot, but caught by West Brom on the counter at some point in the game.

Blast from the Past