October 02, 2014

Liverpool hired Jurgen Klopp in the hopes that he could restore prestige to the struggling club.

For now they will settle for goals.

The Reds try to avoid being shut out for a third straight game for the first time in six years Sunday when they face West Bromwich Albion at Anfield.

Liverpool (6-5-4) have yet to win the Premier League, but they feel their chances of eventually ending that drought improved upon the hiring of Klopp two months ago.

He did little wrong during a 7-0-1 stretch across all competitions, beating Chelsea and Manchester City on the road in league play, and thrashing Southampton 6-1 in the League Cup on Dec. 2.

The results only added to the hype surrounding the already popular manager, who had a cult following at Borussia Dortmund.

The Reds, however, followed that impressive run with a 2-0 loss at relegation-threatened Newcastle last Sunday before settling for a scoreless draw at FC Sion in the Europa League on Thursday. They did finish atop their group and advanced to the round of 32, which will take place in February.

While the match in Switzerland was plagued by a frozen pitch, Klopp has been hampered by Liverpool's poor offensive play. They have three shots on target over the last two games, showing little innovation as they face the possibility of suffering a clean sheet for three straight matches for the first time since Sept. 29-Oct. 17, 2009.

Klopp, though, isn't too concerned, citing the frozen pitch and his team's effort.

"It was not the football we all know, our best football, but we also know that although it's an outdoor sport, frozen ground is for other sports usually," Klopp told the club's official website Thursday.

"The first thing to do (Thursday) was to show character and show that you're prepared for a game like this. That's what my team did, so I'm really satisfied. Nobody is injured."

Liverpool could get a boost offensively if Philippe Coutinho is in the first team. The midfielder was used as a second-half substitute in Switzerland after missing four games with a hamstring injury. Prior to getting hurt, he had four goals in three games and seemed to be adjusting to Klopp's tactics.

The same can't be said of Roberto Firmino, who has one goal in 18 matches as he struggles to live up to the 29-million pound transfer from Hoffenheim. He had 34 goals over the last two seasons there.

First-choice striker Daniel Sturridge is again sidelined, this time with a hamstring injury likely to keep him out of action for at least two weeks.

Liverpool has outscored West Brom 6-2 while winning the last two meetings at Anfield, getting goals from Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson in a 2-1 win Oct. 4, 2014.

The Baggies (5-4-6) enter this visit unbeaten in three straight matches (1-2-0), playing Tottenham to a 1-all draw last weekend. The spirited effort also added to the their growing confidence.

"We showed a lot of belief in the way that we played and I think it was one of the best performances we have had in a while," defender Gareth McAuley told the team's official website. "We had a few decent chances and we could have won it."

Scoring has been an issue for the Baggies, who have just 14 goals in 17 games across all competitions while playing the rigid style set forth by manager Tony Pulis.

The Baggies' scoring is also hurt by Saido Berahino's desire to leave on a transfer to Spurs. He has three goals in 11 matches but has been an unused substitute in the last two.

"We don't want him just for Christmas, we want him back in the fold," Pulis said Friday. "He was a top player for us last year."

The forward recently liked comments on Twitter claiming he was being held hostage by West Brom chairman Jeremy Pearce, who rejected two transfer offers from Tottenham at the summer transfer window deadline.

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