Liverpool come up against West Brom after an interesting dress rehearsal on Monday. Perhaps Manchester United would have been expected to come out and play, like The Warriors. Instead, Jose Mourinho was unashamedly cautious. This was simply the smart tactical move and, no matter how hard you jab the possession statistics for emphasis, United didn’t play that bad.
The Red Devils were satisfied with an Anfield point. The Baggies would be happy with one. So we can expect a super defensive performance from West Brom on Saturday. It’s how they play their game. It doesn’t make sense to play attacking football at Anfield if the opposition is better at that game then your team. What they will be dangerous from is (you guessed it) set-pieces.
Loris Karius wasn’t properly tested by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company but there was still moments when he looked a little jittery. Putting him under pressure (i.e. throwing yourself at him during a free kick or corner) will put him to the test. Not that the top objective will necessarily be scoring. Primarily, Tony Pulis will want his side to nullify the Reds and keep a clean sheet.
They’ve only conceded eight goals in eight games this season and the Baggies held Liverpool twice last season. You might remember the much-maligned Liverpool celebrations at the end of a 2-2 home draw. The same thing won’t happen on this occasion. If Klopp sees his side grab a draw at the death, he’ll be less disappointed than he would have been if they had lost. That’s it.
With no European commitments and a good squad, Liverpool have a huge opportunity to do something special this season. If they don’t win against West Brom then it will be a huge loss of momentum and could be a sign of the extent of their capabilities. That’s how the media will read it.
Neither team has any major injury concerns going into this fixture with Wijnaldum and Milner expected to be fit enough to make the Liverpool squad.
Predicted Liverpool team: Karius, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Can, Henderson, Coutinho, Mane, Firmino, Lallana
Predicted West Brom team: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Fletcher, Yacob, Phillips, Chadli, McClean, Rondon.