Liverpool vs West Brom: Match preview & predicted XIs

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Just one point separates Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion heading into this fixture, and it seems that it is a must win for the home side.

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In recent years, the Baggies haven't done badly when travelling up the M6 to Anfield. The Birmingham-based club have took three points in two of their last three visits on Merseyside in both 2012 and 2013.

Last season however, they felt the wrath of the 'SAS' as Luis Suarez struck a hat-trick and partner Daniel Sturridge bagged himself a goal. In the return trip at the Hawthornes, the game finished a stale-mate at 1-1; Sturridge was on target again early in the game however Victor Anichebe pounced on Kolo Toure's mistake to earn his side a point.

Team News

West Brom will not have to worry about the threat of the 'SAS' this fixture. With Luis Suarez now playing his football at Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge still nursing a thigh injury he picked up on international duty, the Reds will again rely on Mario Balotelli to lead the front line.

Midfield problems remain at Anfield too - both Emre Can (ankle) and Joe Allen (knee) are still forced to watch from the stands after picking up injuries when representing their countries, like Strurridge.

The back four aren't much better off either; Glen Johnson (thigh) limbed off against Manchester City in Liverpool's second Premier League game and has not recovered, likewise Jon Flanagan (knee) and Mamodou Sakho has picked up a thigh strain in training and will not be included in Brendan Rodgers' 16 man squad.

As for the away side, they have problems up top. Former Everton forward Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye are in the sick-room as is winger Silvestre Varela.

They will also be without Andre Wisdom, who will be ineligible as he is on loan from Liverpool

Recent Form

It has been a gloomy season for Liverpool, thus far. They sit 14th in the top flight division, picking up just seven points in six games, nine points behind leaders, Chelsea.

They drew 1-1 with rivals Everton in their last game, which saw an improved performance. The Reds controlled the game for large parts and played more threatening football.

Adam Lallana was a real spark for the home side and he created lots of chances early on in the game and £16 million summer signing Mario Balotelli also had a solid game, holding the ball up well and winning the free-kick that lead to Steven Gerrard's opening goal.

Defensive problems  also remained this season yet against the Toffess both Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel seems a lot more confident together and communicated much more throughout the game.

Unfortunately, all that progess was thrown down the drain on Wednesday night - the Reds travelled the FC Basel in the Champions League and suffered a 1-0 defeat in what was a dismal display.

Mario Balotelli has a shocking game, not moving off the ball in support of his team-mates and had a negative effect on both Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, who were both poor.

Again, defensive problems occurred from a set-piece when the Reds failed to deal with a corner. Martin Skrtel was caught wrestling with his man instead of eying the ball and that is not the first time that has happened to him this season.

West Brom haven't done all that badly so far this campaign and enter the fixture looking for a third straight victory in the Premier League.

After a slow start, The Baggies saw off Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane due to a classy James Morrison strike and followed that up with a 4-0 demolishing of Burnley.

I was very impressed by Alan Irvine's men's performance - they past the ball around quickly, and were always threatening when in front of goal.

Match Preview

This tie could go either way given how the two club's are playing.

Brendan Rodger's keeps saying how his side are still gelling, however Liverpool fans are getting extremely impatient to see this happen.

Mario Balotelli has netted just once in seven appearances for his side and this is not good enough. Although he is playing a lone striker and will benefit when Sturridge returns, he has to do more for his side. The Italian must give his fellow attackers an option when going forward and create space. There may be times when the 24-year-old may find himself in positions that he may not be able to score from, however his team-mates will.

I see Adam Lallana coming back into the Liverpool side after being rested mid-week and this will be a massive bonus. The £25 million signing has been very impressive thus far at Anfield as he is a handful for the opposition.

He also has an excellent understanding with Raheem Sterling and I expect the youngster to bounce back after a difficult night in Switzerland.

Lazar Markovic has been during his last two games and will likely drop to the bench and be replaced by Fabio Borini. The Italian wasn't wanted at the club this season, however with his boss having so little options going forward he will be forced to play the former Roma striker.

Playing a strike-partner will aid Balotelli as it will allow one to drop deeper and another to partner him when on the attack,

Alberto Moreno will also likely reappear at left-back after Jose Enrique put in a below-par performance against Basel and that will add a lot of width going forward. Moreno bombs down the left-wing to aid his side when attacking and when Sterling picks the ball up outside the box, he will know he can either drive at the defence or give it simple out wide.

If Saido Berahino has a strike-partner with him up top, I would suspect he would cause an awful lot of problems. However, we saw how Lovren and Skrtel dealt with Romelu Lukaku last week and the youngster is a similar player to the Belgian.

West Brom may have slammed Burnley last week, but the Lancashire club look in real trouble already after just six games.

Liverpool know how badly they need a victory and I think that, that should be enough for them to win this game.


Liverpool 2-1 West Brom

Likely line-ups


Mignolet; Manquillo, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana; Sterling, Borini, Balotelli

West Brom

Foster; Gamboa, Lescott, Dawson, Pocognoli; Sessegnon, Gardener, Brunt, Dorrans, Morrison; Berahino

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West Bromwich Albion
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