Venue: Anfield, 15:00
Referee: Jon Moss
Positions: Liverpool – 3rd, West Bromwich Alboin – 12th
Current Form: Liverpool – DLWWD, West Bromwich Albion – DWWDD
Managers: Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers, West Bromwich Albion – Steve Clarke
Both teams will be without several key men for this weekend’s three o’clock kick off. Starting with the home team, Brendan Rodgers will still be without chief creative talent Philippe Coutinho but believes the Brazilian should be back for next weekend’s clash with table toppers Arsenal – the little playmaker has been back in full training this week and should be chomping at the bit to return. Another continuing absentee is expected to come in the form of left back José Enrique – the Spaniard missed last weekend’s draw with his former team Newcastle United with a long standing knee problem which seems to crop up every few weeks. Aly Cissokho is widely expected to continue in the left back slot despite his mistake leading to Newcastle’s second goal last Saturday. Rodgers could finally be able to call upon Joe Allen as he has fully recovered from his hamstring injury sustained in the League Cup victory over Notts County earlier this season – the Welshman was an unused substitute at St. James’ Park. It will still be some time before Rodgers can call upon Sebastian Coates (knee) – he remains out for the rest of the season.
Steve Clarke will sadly be without the talents of on-loan winger Scott Sinclair who is currently struggling with a hamstring injury. Zoltan Gera and George Thorne are both struggling with niggles but could be included in the travelling Baggies squad. Perhaps the most annoying injury Clarke has to contend with is the long term injury to number one goalkeeper Ben Foster who is out with a serious foot injury – Foster would have been hoping for an England call-up to the recent World Cup qualifiers but failed to do so, with John Ruddy and Fraser Forster taking his place.
Liverpool will have to do better in this fixture than they did last year if they hope to go top again this weekend – West Brom earned a fantastic 2-0 victory at Anfield last season, defending stoutly and hitting Liverpool with two very late goals, coutesy of Gareth McAuley and Romelu Lukaku. For obvious reasons, the in-form Lukaku will not be available for Steve Clarke this weekend – the Belgian forward returned to his parent club, Chelsea, in the summer and was immediately re-loaned to Everton for the course of the 2013/2014 season. However, the Lukaku sized hole in their squad shouldn’t put West Brom off, they did the double over Liverpool last season and have already beaten defending champions Manchester United at Old Trafford – as well as holding league leaders Arsenal to a 1-1 draw earlier this month. West Brom are also the in-form team from this fixture, boasting nine points from thier last five league games compared to Liverpool’s eight in the same sequence.
However, Liverpool are boosted by the return of Lucas Leiva – he missed last week’s game due to compassionate leave as his wife was giving birth to their second child. Liverpool could go top with a win over the Baggies but their goal difference is inferior to both Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s. If West Brom’s attacking talents of Berahino, Anelka and Sessègnon all turn up then they could go eighth with a victory – placing them above Manchester United (temporarily at least).
Expect Rodgers to ditch the three man defence for a more favourable four man system. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Škrtel, Sakho, Cissokho – Gerrard, Lucas – Henderson, Moses, Suárez – Sturridge
Expect West Brom to remain unchanged and to stick with one up top. Formation: 4-2-3-1.
West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell – Yacob, Mulumbu – Amalfitano, Sessègnon, Berahino – Anichebe
I think I’m going to go for a tight Liverpool victory, probably by a single goal. I’m going for 2-1 to the home side. Sturridge to get on the scoresheet.