In-form Liverpool now travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday February 2, 2014 (5:30 AM Pacific, 13:30 GMT), in a match which both sides will probably be looking to gain all three points from.
Compared to last season’s successful campaign, West Bromwich Albion have endured a difficult season so far. The Baggies hierarchy dispensed with the services of Steve Clark a few months ago and the new man at the helm at the Hawthorns, Pepe Mel, certainly has an uphill battle if he is to preserve West Brom’s Premier League status.
Mel saw his side lose out to Aston Villa in midweek, in a thrilling 4-3 encounter, and the Spanish manager would certainly have been less than pleased with the result, having registered a 2-0 lead at one point of the match. Currently on a four match winless streak, Mel will be desperate for a victory, but will be well aware that it will not be easy against a Liverpool team full of confidence. However, the Baggies did hammer the Reds when they last paid a visit and Mel will be hoping for a similar result on Sunday.
In what was supposed to be a close encounter, Liverpool blew rivals Everton out of the park with a fine team performance in the Merseyside Derby in midweek. The Reds have been gathering momentum in their charge for a Champions League spot and manager Brendan Rodgers will certainly expect no less than three points when they pay West Brom a visit this weekend.
Rodgers faced bit of a disappointment on transfer deadline day after failing to secure the services of Yevhen Konoplyanka but the Northern Irishman later reiterated his faith in the current crop of players at his disposal and given the Reds’ brilliant displays this season, there certainly is no need for Rodgers to doubt the capabilities of his side.
West Bromwich Albion
Veteran striker Nicolas Anelka is ruled out of the clash due to a leg injury suffered against Villa, while Stéphane Sessegnon also looks set to miss out with a groin problem.
Mel made a host of changes to his side in the defeat against Villa and may once again be tempted to shuffle things around this weekend. Diego Lugano and Steven Reid started for the Baggies in defence against Villa but after seeing his side concede four, the Spanish manager could recall Billy Jones and Gareth McAuley to the starting lineup instead of the duo with Jonas Olsson and Liam Ridgewell completing back four.
The midfield trio of Claudio Yacob, Youssouf Mulumbu and James Morrison should retain their place in the starting lineup while Morgan Amalfitano looks set to replace the injured Anelka. Victor Anichebe will most probably be leading the line again for the Baggies but Saido Berahino and Matej Vydra will be pushing for a start as well. New signing Thievy Bifouma will also be in contention.
Brendan Rodgers will most probably go with an unchanged lineup to the one which hammered Everton in midweek. The likes of Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique are all out with injuries, which means that the back four of Aly Cissokho, Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Jon Flanagan will keep their place in the starting lineup, in front of Simon Mignolet, who will start in goal.
The absence of Lucas and Joe Allen will once again see Steven Gerrard start in a deeper position with Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho playing as the advanced midfield players. Luis Suarez will be leading the line for the Reds and he will be supported by the deadly duo of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
West Bromwich Albion (Probable XI): Foster; Ridgewell, Olsson, McAuley, Jones; Brunt, Morrison, Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano; Anichebe
Liverpool (Probable XI): Mignolet; Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan; Sturridge, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling; Suarez
West Bromwich Albion: W L L D W
Liverpool: W W D W W
26/10/2013 Liverpool 4 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
12/02/2013 Liverpool 0 – 2 West Bromwich Albion
27/09/2012 West Bromwich Albion 1 – 2 Liverpool (League Cup 2012/13)
18/08/2012 West Bromwich Albion 3 – 0 Liverpool
West Brom vs Liverpool Prediction
According to the form book, West Bromwich Albion are enduring a torrid time at home, while Liverpool have been in free-scoring mood in their travels, which suggests the Reds are favourites going into the game.
However, Liverpool to have a tendency to leak goals away from home as well and West Brom will certainly be looking to exploit the Reds’ fragile backline.
The Baggies will have to perform out of their skins to keep the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling quiet, but they do posses a physical defense and will certainly not make it easy for the rampaging trio to play their natural game. Liverpool, on the other hand, have to be wary of West Brom’s threat from the counter.
West Brom are looking to find their identity under new manager Pepe Mel, while Liverpool look a set unit and are certainly the better side. Liverpool will have to work hard but they should come away with all three points. West Bromwich Albion 1 – 2 Liverpool
West Brom vs Liverpool Television
The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network (USA), and BBC One (UK)