Liverpool will be hoping to reclaim third spot when they visit the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion.
Jurgen Klopp will rally his troops and march to the Hawthorns as he is hoping to guide his Liverpool side into the UEFA Champions League for the first time under his tutelage. The Reds had a dismal season last year, and the German will be hoping that this will be an improvement.
Following Manchester City’s 3-0 thumping of Southampton on Saturday, Liverpool have fallen a place and now sit 4th on the table with 63 points. Despite having played the same number of games as the Manchester club, they will be giving themselves every bit of an impetus to make it into the top three.
They will face a West Brom side who don’t have any realistic targets for the remainder of the season. After reaching the 40-points milestone, Tony Pulis sides usually breathe easy, which could come as good news for the Reds.
That being said, the Baggies are unlikely to lift their foot off the pedal and allow Liverpool to dictate terms. They will be a composed and resolute unit and will make it hard for the opposition to break them down.
Team News and Tactics
Jurgen Klopp fielded a relatively weakened side last week and it almost cost him the game. However, he did bring on Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino at half time, and that shaped the outcome of the game.
He did opt for a back three, and given his injuries in midfield, he is likely to go with the same system against West Brom. Joel Matip will play at the heart of the defence, with Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan on either sides of him.
James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne will operate as wing backs, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can playing in central midfield. Due to the absence of Sadio Mane, Divock Origi is expected to play as the number nine with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino on either side.
Liverpool Probable XI: Mignolet; Lovren, Matip, Klavan; Clyne, Can, Wijnaldum, Milner; Firmino, Origi, Coutinho.
The hosts have a clean bill of health in their roster so Tony Pulis is unlikely to bring about too many major changes. He is expected to set up a contained eleven, and will make it as difficult as he can for Liverpool.
English goalkeeper Ben Foster will start in goal, with a back four of Michael Dawson, Johnny Evans, Gareth McAuely and Allan Nyom ahead of him. With a 4-2-3-1 formation, West Brom’s holding midfielders are expected to play deep, shielding the back four.
Jake Livermore is expected to come in and play alongside the ever-present Darren Fletcher. Ahead of them, a trio of Christ Brunt, James McClean and Matt Phillips is likely to be deployed with Salomon Rondon leading the line.
West Brom Probable XI: Foster; Dawson, Evans, McAuely, Nyom; Fletcher, Livermore; Brunt, McClean, Phillips; Rondon.
- Three of West Brom’s four goals against Liverpool under Tony Pulis have been scored by defenders (Craig Dawson, Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley).
- After keeping 10 clean sheets in their first 11 Premier League games against West Brom, Liverpool have since kept just one in 10 league meetings since then.
- Philippe Coutinho has now scored in three successive Premier League appearances but he’s never netted in four appearances in a row in the competition.
- Since Jurgen Klopp first took charge in October 2015, Liverpool’s Premier League matches have produced the most goals (203) and have seen the highest average of goals per game (3.3).
- Since Steve Clarke led West Brom to a Premier League double over Liverpool in 2012-13, the Baggies have not won any of their following seven games against them (D4 L3).
Player to watch out for
Due to the absence of Sadio Mane, the ball is now in Coutinho’s court to carry the team on his shoulders over the finish line until the end of the season. The Brazilian has scored in his last three matches for the Reds, and will be hoping to find the back of the net for the fourth straight time.
He is the most innovative of the trio likely to start on Sunday, and Firmino and Origi will rely on him to bring them into the game while also finding openings for himself. He has already earned the manager’s undying support and it is now time to take his game to the next level.
West Brom 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool matches guarantee entertainment in the form of goals, and this game could follow suit. The Reds have been in tatters defensively all season, but have been threatening in the offensive third. Also, with West Brom exceptional at set pieces, and Liverpool equally weak at defending them, the hosts are likely to score from a corner or a free kick. However, Liverpool’s quality in attack may just prove to be enough to see them over the line.