WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Sunday 13th December, 2015, 16:00 GMT
Liverpool FC fans are probably ready for some excitement after the snooze-fest that was their midweek game against FC Sion. They’ll be hoping for a win too, after having lost their last Premier League game against a Newcastle United side that has been very poor this season.
Much like Jurgen Klopp, Tony Pulis also has a certain style of football that’s associated with him. Pulis sets up defensively solid, and disciplined sides, and Klopp’s Liverpool would find it difficult to break them down.
Team news and tactics
The supremely unlucky Daniel Sturridge is injured again, and Mamadou Sakho is still atleast a week away from return. Jordon Ibe missed the Sion game due to illness, but has recovered and should be in the squad, if not the starting XI.
Despite the definite improvements under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC continue to find it difficult to break down visiting teams at Anfield, mostly because they tend to sit back more and don’t give enough opportunities for counter-attacks. Klopp’s record at Anfield in the Premier League is 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss out of 3 games, with the team not having scored more than one goal in any of those occasions. The solitary win happened to be against Swansea City, and the only goal in the game was a James Milner penalty.
Roberto Firmino is yet to put in a run of good performances, with a every good outing generally sandwiched by games where he’s mostly invisible. The good news is that Philippe Coutinho is fit again; the fellow Brazilian is the only player with whom Firmino seems to share some kind of mental frequency. Against a compact and disciplined West Brom, Klopp will need as much creativity on the field as possible. Throwing the two Brazilians behind either Christian Benteke or Divock Origi is the likely approach, with Adam Lallana ready to come off the bench when needed.
Klopp would ideally like to throw on Ibe as well, being the only real wide player in the side. But since his fitness situation isn’t clear, there is a chance the 19-year-old could start the game on the bench, with either Lallana or Milner starting instead of him. Lucas Leiva is likely to start alongside Emre Can, though Jordan Henderson is going to be working hard in training to show why Klopp should start him instead.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Mignolet(Gk); Moreno, Lovren, Skrtel, Clyne; Can, Lucas; Coutinho, Firmino, Ibe; Benteke
Tony Pulis’ only injury concerns are Stephane Sessegnon, who is out with a hamstring injury, and long-term absentee Ben Foster.
Pulis would have studied his opponents’ home game woes, and will try to follow the same approach Crystal Palace did in beating Liverpool FC at Anfield. Anyone underestimating Pulis’ West Brom should remember that in two of their last three, they’ve drawn 1-1 against Tottenham and won 2-1 over Arsenal.
A 4-5-1 line-up is the most likely approach, one which Pulis has favored in most away fixtures. On the counter, Salomon Rondon could prove quite a handful, with Saido Berahino a great option to have on the bench. Liverpool FC will find it tough to get past the central midfield trio of Claudio Yacob, Darren Fletcher and James Morrison.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-5-1): Myhill(Gk); Brunt, McAuley, Evans, Dawson; McClean, Morrison, Yacob, Fletcher, Gardner; Rondon
- In his last 3 League outings, Philippe Coutinho has scored 4 goals.
- West Brom have conceded the fewest away goals in the Premier League (5).
Player to watch out for
Since Joe Gomez’s injury, Liverpool’s Spanish left-back has had his place nailed down in the first team. In mid-week, he would have seen the first semblance of competition for his spot, with 21-year old Brad Smith the best performer against FC Sion.
The crosses he launches from the left-flank are exactly the kind of balls Liverpool fans have been dying to see from Moreno, with the Spaniard mostly choosing to go for grounded balls.
With Christian Benteke often looking starved of (aerial) service in most games, Moreno should take every opportunity he has to make sure he doesn’t lose his spot to the young Australian. An improved form from him could prove vital to the fortunes of Liverpool, not in the least because they don’t have any winger to man the flank in front of Moreno, and so rely heavily on him to provide width on that side.
Liverpool 1-0 West Brom
This is likely to be a tight game, with Liverpool hogging the possession, but having to regularly scamper backwards when West Brom counter attack. Klopp’s side have enough attacking talent to score at least one goal, as they have done regularly at home. West Brom would have loved to have Stephane Sessegnon present for this one, as they lose some of their creativity and bite in his absence. Klopp’s men should be able to edge out Tony Pulis’ side in the end.