After the disappointing 1-1 draw against local rivals, Everton at the weekend, Liverpool will be looking to bounce back tonight. With other top four rivals dropping points, the Reds missed an opportunity to jump up to third and a big result against West Brom is needed to ensure the season doesn’t begin to lose its way. The Baggies are struggling and sit in 17th position, with just goal difference separating them from the drop-zone and tonight’s match won’t be easy for them. Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 home league games and I can’t see that changing tonight.
Liverpool Team News
I don’t expect to see any changes to the back five from the Merseyside Derby. Simon Mignolet will retain his spot as Liverpool’s number one PL ‘keeper and will see tonight as an excellent opportunity to pick up another clean sheet. In front of him, Alberto Moreno is set to miss out again with an ankle injury and Jurgen Klopp has admitted it may be up to six weeks before we see the Spaniard again. Andrew Robertson had a decent outing against Everton but looked a little rusty considering the amount of time he’d spent out of the team. Klopp also confirmed that Joel Matip has not returned to first team training and will have to wait until 2018 before he participates in league football. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan will line up as the centre-backs, with the ever-consistent, Joe Gomez to the right of them.
The news on Adam Lallana is that, while he is playing a full role in training, he will be slowly nursed back into regular first team football. The Englishman has made just one substitute appearance this season having injured his thigh in the summer. The backroom staff have decided that his worth during the hectic festive period is incredibly valuable, so he will not be rushed back for the fear that the injury may be aggravated. Instead, Philippe Coutinho will start in midfield after his surprise exclusion at the weekend. The Brazilian has stated that he can still improve in his new central-midfield role under Jurgen Klopp. Fans will be delighted to hear his desire to push his development on, and perhaps receive a hint that he is not going anywhere in January. There are no more injury concerns for our midfielders, so any two out of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum could start.
Dominic Solanke started as the main striker on Sunday and proved to be largely ineffective. With Daniel Sturridge potentially sidelined with a minor hamstring strain, the stage is set for Roberto Firmino to return to action. Fresh off the back of winning the BBC’s African Player of the Year award, Mohamed Salah will be raring to go down the right wing. One of his beaten competitors, Sadio Mane will be opposite him on the left and the two will attempt to exploit the Albion defence with their express pace. It won’t be an easy feat though, as Albion boast a stubborn back line, despite their lowly league position.
Predicted Line Up: Mignolet; Robertson, Lovren, Klavan, Gomez; Coutinho, Milner, Can; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
West Brom Team News
West Brom haven’t won any of their last 14 league matches and they won’t be helped by injuries tonight. Alan Pardew is expecting none of his current injured players to be ready for a run out at Anfield. This means the likes of James Morrison, Craig Dawson, Nacer Chadli, Gareth Barry, Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips will be watching the action from the warmth and comfort of their own homes.
The long list of main absentees means that Pardew will have his starting XI all but picked for him. There should be very few changes from the team that lost 1-0 to Swansea at the weekend, except for maybe a change in formation to try and keep Liverpool’s attackers under wraps. James McClean could come in to help the Baggies could line up in a slightly more defensive 4-4-2 formation. Surprise summer signing, Grzegorz Krychowiak should replace youngster, Sam Field in order to offer a bit more stability in the centre of midfield.
Predicted Line Up: Foster; Gibbs, Evans, Hegazi, Nyom; McClean, Livermore, Krychowiak, Rodriguez; Rondon, Robson-Kanu.
This fixture may not be as straightforward as it first appears for Liverpool. West Brom will come with a very tight, defensive unit, but Pardew did confess that they will need to find some attacking force if they are going to have any chance to take anything from this match. With such a short turn-around since the last match, I fear the home side may not be up to full force, despite resting several key players on Sunday. It looks to be a tight game, with Liverpool having a considerable amount of possession, as usual, and they should come away with the three points, courtesy of a 2-0 win.