In between the moments of unadulterated magic, the 2017/18 campaign has been littered with periods of abject frustration for Liverpool fans, and Monday’s 0-1 defeat to Swansea was the perfect case in point.
You haven’t got enough fingers to count up the number of occasions in which we’ve dominated the game, created sack-loads of chances but been unable to run up a winning goal tally. Then, our opponents, with one of a couple of shots on target, nick an undeserved winner.
That’s exactly what happened in Wales, and while we can offer Swansea some credit for disrupting our attacking flow, it was still a tough defeat to take given that, probably 95 times out of 100, we’d have won that match.
Still, there’s no point crying over spilt milk, as an older generation might say, and the reality is that we’re now six points behind Manchester United in second.
There’s a brief hiatus from Premier League action this week; that’s until next Tuesday, anyway, when we travel to take on Huddersfield. Instead, we’re hosting West Brom in a Saturday night FA Cup tie.
It should be a brilliant atmosphere at Anfield for a very rare Saturday night game, but the creeping doubt is that Jurgen Klopp will name a much-changed side as has been his want in this competition these past few years. The fact we’ve never progressed beyond the fourth round under the German’s stewardship is rather telling.
The Baggies aren’t going to come up to Merseyside and roll over, so it is a potential banana-skin for us to overcome. Let’s hope that Klopp picks a starting eleven capable of doing just that.
Liverpool Team News
There’s no doubt that Klopp will use this match as a way of getting some game-time into the legs of those who need it, especially with a league game following just 72 hours later. The good news is that doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno could come in after injury, and you suspect that Virgil van Dijk will be given a run-out as he acclimatises to life in a red shirt. There could also be starts for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Adam Lallana and James Milner, so while this will have the feel of a second string Liverpool starting eleven, it won’t be the mix of kids and reserves that struggled so badly in this competition last season.
You would also expect Dominic Solanke to come in, and there may even be rare starts for Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge if they are fit enough.
West Brom Form
West Brom progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a routine 2-0 victory over Exeter last time out curtesy of goals from Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez.
That follows a general pattern under Alan Pardew, who while not transforming the Baggies into world beaters has certainly made them harder to beat: they’ve lost just one of their last five in the league, and held us to a 0-0 draw at Anfield back in December you may recall.
But one solitary win since August in the league tells its own tale, and while they are a stubborn and well-drilled outfit it has to be said that West Brom are there to be beaten.
Liverpool vs West Brom Betting Tips
A possibly much-changed Liverpool starting eleven would ultimately mean a less free-flowing style than we might associate with messrs Firmino, Salah and Mane linking up. Factor in a resilient West Brom side who will defend for their lives and you have a recipe for a low scoring slow-burner.
Seven of the Baggies’ last ten games have witnessed two goals or fewer, and while we know of our own exploits in front of goal the parameters are rather different here: assuming Klopp makes wholesale changes to the starting eleven, that is.
If our suggested eleven is correct then the goal threat is severely diminished. Solanke looks to have a bright future, Ings is a fine talent if he can return to his very best after a couple of debilitating injuries, and Sturridge, well, nobody needs convincing about what he can do.
It’s a front three that doesn’t exactly cry out for goals though, and West Brom’s best route to finding the net is set pieces – if Liverpool can eradicate any silly fouls in dangerous areas, the Baggies will lack any significant threat.
So yes, we’re predicting a low scoring game here. The bookmakers haven’t accounted for a rotated Liverpool side – they are priced at 1/4 on – which gives punters an opportunity to support West Brom in the handicaps market.
So back the Baggies with a +1.50 Asian Handicap start at 11/10, and while you’re at it don’t forget to take the Under 2.5 Goals mark at a generous 11/8.