West Brom vs Liverpool: Match Preview

Coming off the back of a wonderful victory against bitter rivals Manchester United, Liverpool will need to be at their best once again against a relegated West Bromwich Albion side in their hunt for Champions League football.
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Nothing is sweeter than beating Manchester United, especially given the fact The Red Devils could have prevented Liverpool from achieving Champions League football next season.

Goals from the starting front three saw Jurgen Klopp's men march to an emphatic 4-2 win in Manchester. Liverpool's XI were in fine form and there were some standout performances from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara and Rhys Williams in particular.

The squad seems to have built momentum at the right time and Liverpool are the in-form team in the league right now and unbeaten in their last eight games.

Liverpool Can Still Secure A Top Four Spot

Rhys Williams, Alisson Becker and Nathaniel Phillips celebrate for Liverpool. 

Rhys Williams, Alisson Becker and Nathaniel Phillips celebrate for Liverpool. 

There is no doubt that Liverpool still have it all to do in their quest for football's elite competition, but at least it is now in their own hands. A win at the Hawthorns will put pressure on Chelsea and Leicester City, who play each other in the league on Tuesday night.

Liverpool, if they win all of their games, will achieve Champions League football, so long as they also (if needed) have a better goal difference than Leicester.

For Leicester and Chelsea it is now impossible to both get more than 69 points, which is Liverpool's maximum potential tally. Leicester have the advantage by one goal in the goal difference column, Chelsea have two, but hopefully it won't come down to that.

Liverpool Vs West Brom

On then, to West Brom away; yet a team with nothing to play for, is sometimes more dangerous than a team with something to lose. Big Sam and his parked bus awaits.

"West Brom will be completely free of pressure, which can do strange things, Burnley with supporters is a tough one and we will see what we have to do against Crystal Palace."

Jurgen Klopp on the final three games

Roberto Firmino Celebrates after scoring against Manchester United

Roberto Firmino Celebrates after scoring against Manchester United

Liverpool Team News

Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are all unavailable for selection for the remainder of the season.

The fitness over Ozan Kabak, Naby Keita and James Milner is currently questionable but with the recent form of Rhys Williams as the centre-back pairing with Nathaniel Phillips, Kabak's absence may not have been as bad as first feared.

The young English duo had an assured and confidence boosting game on Thursday night: Phillips registered an assist after atoning for his error in the Bruno Fernandes opening goal whilst Rhys Williams looked calm and composed far beyond his 20 years. 

Williams will surely be trusted to hold down that centre-back position again should Kabak be unavailable, allowing the defensive wall of Fabinho to play in his much preferred position just ahead of them. The controversial experiment of Fabinho filling in at centre-back worked to a degree, but the Brazilian's influence was missed in midfield and Liverpool do look better with Fab in the fold.

Thiago Alcantara has steadily shown why Liverpool brought the world-class midfielder to Merseyside over the past few months. With every game since the turn of the year the Spanish sensation grows. Thiago looked worlds apart from the Manchester United saviour Bruno Fernandes, who most of Thursday night, as Roy Keane put it 'spent half of the time crying on the pitch.'

Thiago and Fabinho are quietly forming a formidable partnership in that midfield; Liverpool fans must be salivating to see their captain Jordan Henderson be the third man in that tantalising trio.

Fabinho Thiago Salah

Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah celebrate for Liverpool. 

Question marks remain over Sadio Mane: the Senegalese superman has seemingly lost his superpowers this season. Mane was not named in the starting XI against United and left Jurgen Klopp's attempt at a high-five hanging. 

Klopp insisted after the game, "It was because yesterday I changed things pretty late in training," suggesting that he opted to put Diogo Jota in the team in place of Mane at the last minute. Klopp has gone on to say there is no problem between the player and manager.

An angry Mane may very well be a dangerous Mane; his frustrations could very well be taken out of Sam Allardyce's team on Sunday, here's to hoping at least.

Mohamed Salah scored his 30th goal of the season against Manchester United and his 21st in the league, tying him with Harry Kane for the golden boot. The Egyptian King will be laser focused on seizing his third golden boot award and could very well add a few more goals in his last three games.

"We are all responsible to make it happen. He is a goalscoring machine. He is an outstanding signing but the way he has developed, the training and game preperation is exceptional. He is a role model."

Jurgen Klopp on Mo Salah's time at Liverpool FC.

On Sunday, Liverpool could indeed opt to play the front four, knowing that West Brom will no doubt look to play their famous low-block, bus parked, ten men behind the ball tactic to halt the Liverpool bombardment. Big Sam wouldn't have it any other way.

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane Could be the key to undoing West Brom 

West Brom Team News

The Baggies have a relatively injury-free squad to choose from: Branislav Ivanovic and Robert Snodgrass are the only known injuries within the squad.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is back again after he was unable to face his parent club Arsenal and will be much needed in the West Brom starting XI.

West Brom's 3-1 defeat last time out at the hands of Arsenal confirmed their relegation; The Baggies sit in 19th position in the league but can go 18th with a win and gain some credibility on their final finishing position. 

It is the first time Sam Allardyce has been relegated from the Premier League and he will no doubt want to take a big scalp in Liverpool with him on his way down to the Championship.

His team put in a good defensive performance in the reverse of this fixture, securing a 1-1 draw at Anfield. A draw this weekend will be enough to hurt Liverpool again.

West Brom are winless in their last four games in the league and have also conceded nine goals in that time. But alas, they are also the team who humbled Champions League finalists Chelsea too, slamming five goals past Tuchel's team.

One man who has shown great promise this season for The Baggies is the dangerous, exhilarating and exciting Matheus Pereira. The Brazilian has registered 31 appearances and notched 10 goals this season, along with five assists. 

Pereira is being rumoured with a move away from Birmingham this summer and he will be keen to perform to his highest standards to encourage those teams linked with him (Leipzig, Leeds and Leicester) to bring him back to a top division within European football.

Andy Robertson will have to keep a close eye on the right midfielder, should he play in his primary role. The 25-year-old can also play in the attacking midfield role should he be deployed there instead.

West Brom's remaining games will be all about saving face; they will have no bigger motivation and inspiration than this game, knowing that they could cost last years Champions the chance to qualify for European royalty.

Match Facts

  • Liverpool have earned only 17 points from 13 matches against the bottom-eight: fewer than Newcastle (19), Fulham (18) and every other side except West Brom (15) and Sheffield United (11).
  • The Reds have tasted victory on only two occasions in ten (W2-D5-L3) when taking on the bottom-six strugglers, with both wins coming against the bottom of the table team Sheffield United.
  • Jurgen Klopp has faced Sam Allardyce on seven occasions, winning two, drawing four and losing one.
Jurgen Klopp Madrid

Jurgen Klopp looks on during Liverpool's match. 

Summary

It is Liverpool's second cup final in four days. Win here and it will put The Reds right amongst the race for the top four. Anything less than that, and it's Europa League next season.

Jurgen Klopp knows that although these upcoming fixtures look favourable on paper, they are far from that. West Brom will prove to be disciplined and stubborn; it will be up to The Reds to take the game to The Baggies and break down the Allardyce playbook.

The bookies make The Reds heavy favourites for a reason, the quality within Klopp's squad should brush off the threat of WBA. Everything points to a Liverpool win, but then again, this is 2021. The incalculable starts when logic ends.

There is little doubt that WBA carry threats of their own with the aforementioned Pereira, but Callum Robinson (six goals) and Mbaye Diagne (three goals) will want to register a few more Premier League goals before their departure to The Championship too.

The man who hurt Liverpool back in December, Semi Ajayi, has proven a threat from set-pieces this season, scoring three goals himself from the centre-back position.  Phillips vs Ajayi could very well be a key battle at either ends of the pitch when facing each other on set-pieces.

However, Liverpool themselves carry one of the best front lines in Europe. If Salah, Jota, Mane and Firmino are firing, you would expect Liverpool to come through this difficult and potential banana skin unharmed and with three much needed points.

If not, clear those Thursday nights in your diaries.