Liverpool welcome 10th placed West Bromwich Albion to Anfield today where a win would move Brendan Rodgers’ side potentially up to sixth or seventh depending on other results to put them back in the mix and in contention for the top places.
Liverpool will want to go into the break on a positive note. Having said that The Baggies have a good record at Anfield and boss Alan Irvine will be looking to extend the run of two wins out of the last three visits. It’s almost certain the defensive minded Scott will bring the team bus into the ground so this will be a tough one for the hosts.
Team wise, The usual back four is expected to start, with Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo either side of Martin Skrtel and Dejan Loren. Captain Steven Gerrard should start just ahead of them. Mamadou Sakho is apparently “injured” but given recent events, that’s probably the club’s euphemism for “a pain in the arse so we dropped him!” . With the continued absence of Joe Allen, the rest of the midfield will probably consist of Jordan Henderson, and Philippe Coutinho behind an attacking trio of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli. Balotelli needs to start producing the goods for the side now. Following some (arguably harsh) criticism in midweek, really needs to start justifying his price tag. No matter how relatively “small” it was. Of course Simon Mignolet keeping goal in the absence of a decent alternative.
The match takes on great significance for Rodgers and Liverpool. A loss for the hosts would almost certainly kiss goodbye to their top-four intentions this yearand make for a bumpy next few weeks for the boss. In fairness to the Northern Irishman, he’s been hit with injuries to three important players in Daniel Sturridge, Allen and Jon Flanagan. Most sides would struggle without players of their quality. However in contrast, his selection policy and priorities have to be questioned at times. Raheem Sterling is clearly showing signs of fatigue and perhaps should have been rested by now regardless of the opposition. The Premier League race is not for the swift but for those who can endure until the end. There’s a long way to go yet.
Hopefully we won’t see a start for Marković. Possibly Liverpool’s worst signing for years. He’ll go the same way as Iago Aspas I fear. I’d love to be wrong, but I cant see it. The question is, who else is there in the squad? Jordan Ibe has been loaned out, which I think was a bad move. His development would have been better served staying at the club seeing as the side is competing in four competitions this year. Another questionable decision for the management.
Right now, it’s fair to say Rodgers is under greater scrutiny because of the poor run of results and quite rightly so. Last season was good, absolutely first class but that’s gone now. It’s the present that matters. I think he’s generally a good tactician but his selection policy is questionable at times such as now when, there isn’t a world class match-winner in the side and there’s a need to get points. Rodgers will be judged by his results as all managers are and by his activity in the transfer market. It’s 60% at best. All said and done, I’m a fan of his and I do believe he’ll turn things round. He needs to.
Elsewhere – Chelsea take on Arsenal at Stamford Bridge tomorrow and Southampton travel to White Hart Lane for a reunion with their former boss Mauricio Pochettino so both sides will have a point to prove there.
Another intriguing weekend of footy awaits us. Liverpool fans all know the team needs to do better. Rodgers knows. Gerrard knows. Do the rest of the team? Come five o’clock this afternoon, we’ll all know.
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