Liverpool will be aiming to return to winning ways on Sunday as they take on a West Bromwich Albion side who will undoubtedly be intent on making it difficult for them.
After playing Chelsea and Manchester City off the park and then scoring six at Southampton in the Capital One Cup, there was quite a furore around Jurgen Klopp’s team amid talk of a potential title bid. But the game away to Newcastle United last weekend was a reminder that such talk is somewhat fanciful as they turned in an abysmal performance and deservedly found themselves on the receiving end of a two-goal defeat, and thus failed to close the six-point gap to the top four.
There was just no fluency from the Reds on Tyneside, with almost every pass in the final third seeming to go astray. Roberto Firmino looked a shadow of the player who had shone so brightly in previous weeks, the midfield duo of Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva were so wasteful in possession, while Klopp’s decision to leave Adam Lallana out of the starting line-up was misguided. The former Borussia Dortmund boss will be demanding a huge improvement here.
They may have to be patient in their attempts to find a breakthrough, as West Brom are now massively experienced in going away to the so-called bigger clubs and sitting back, putting men behind the ball and retaining their shape, so a lot may depend on the level of quality the hosts are able to produce in wide areas. With the protection of Darren Fletcher and Claudio Yacob, the centre-backs will be given the strongest available protection.
The Baggies had to show spirit last time out at home to in-form Tottenham as they fell behind fairly early on, but James McClean was able to level things up and earn his team a creditable point. The Irish winger may be something of a divisive figure, but he seems to have found favour under Tony Pulis and so his battle for supremacy with Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne could also have a say in deciding the outcome here. A goal-fest does not look to be on the cards.
Daniel Sturridge has picked up his umpteenth injury and is out again for Liverpool, but they are boosted by the return of Philippe Coutinho after three weeks on the sidelines.
West Brom have Yacob back after he served a one-match ban, but Stephane Sessegnon is absent after he picked up a hamstring problem against Tottenham.
Played for both – Scott Carson: When Liverpool signed Carson in January 2005, he was tipped to be their No.1 goalkeeper for the future, but it did not turn out that way as he made just four Premier League appearances for the club over three and-a-half years before moving to West Brom. He was the first choice between the posts for three years at the Hawthorns, playing his part in helping the club return to the top-flight after relegation in 2009.