Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Stoke City was an important victory for many reasons. It consolidated our grip on a Champions League place – we’re six points clear of Manchester United now, ended that ‘bottom half hoodoo’ which governs that the Reds tend to struggle against so-called weaker opposition, and it was a game that also got a reaction from Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Both Brazilians were left on the bench in the Potteries as Jurgen Klopp handed starts to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn. The logic behind the decision will remain a secret to Klopp, and Jonathan Walters’ opener for Stoke kind of compounded the confusion behind the decision.
Half time came and on came Firmino and Coutinho, and whether they were dropped, rested or otherwise Klopp got exactly the reaction he was after. Coutinho fired the Reds level after 70 minutes, before Firmino hammered how a fantastic second just two minutes later. That was enough to claim the spoils and a sense of the ‘get out of jail’ on the way home up the M6.
The resolve of the Liverpool players will be tested once again at the Hawthorns on Easter Sunday against a West Brom side that will not lack in effort what they do lack in goal threat. The Baggies have failed to find the net in five of their last six league outings, and that will be blessed relief for this Reds defence that has yielded at least one goal in 12 of their last 13 outings.
But this game represents a fantastic opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to claim an invaluable three points as the Premier League campaign reaches its business end.
Liverpool Team News
You sense that this Liverpool side is limping towards the finishing line and a well-deserved holiday. We know that Sadio Mane is out for the season with his knee injury, while Adam Lallana’s thigh injury could keep him sidelined for another fortnight yet.
There’s no good news regarding Jordan Henderson either unfortunately, with Klopp revealing this week that he too will be out for two more games with his long-standing foot complaint.
So it will be a patched-up Reds that makes the trip south. It will likely be the same eleven that ended the game at Stoke, with Divock Origi retaining his place instead of Daniel Sturridge.
West Brom Form
West Brom have scored in just one of their last six Premier League games, and therein lies the problems regarding their form.
Four defeats in six, a goalless draw at Old Trafford and a 3-1 win over Arsenal is the sum total of their last half-dozen, and even beating the Gunners these days is less of a badge of honour and more a matter of fact.
So, four defeats in six with a goal difference of -6, it is fair to say that Tony Pulis’ side have lost a bit of their spark that led them to the Premier League’s top eight earlier in the campaign. Are they, psychologically at least, on their summer holidays already?
West Brom vs Liverpool Betting Tips
The fact that the Baggies have been so goal-shy of late offers up plenty of evidence to support our claim that Liverpool should, and should is the operative word here, win this game. They are in better form than their opponents and they have more to play for.
Generally though West Brom are decent at the Hawthorns (W9 D2 L5), and it is as if they draw strength from playing in front of their own supporters. That in itself poses challenges for the Reds.
Playing away from home was something of an Achilles heel for Liverpool earlier in the campaign, and the hope is that the win over Stoke has exorcised some of those demons.
When it comes to placing our bets, can we rely on Liverpool to keep a clean sheet? The stats suggest not: remember, they have shut out just opponent in their last 13 games. So even accounting for West Brom’s fallow period in front of goal, we have to suspect the Baggies will find the net.
But then Liverpool’s goalscoring run – netting in 20 of 21, 13 of those being two or more – dictates that we must back them to do likewise.
You have to go back to December 17, or seven games ago, to find the last time West Brom conceded two or more at the Hawthorns, and with Mane and Lallana missing naturally the Reds’ goal-power is greatly reduced.
So all things considered, a 1-1 draw could well be the best bet here if the statistics are to be believed. That can be backed at 7/1, with the draw by any score at 14/5.
For the more risk averse, Both Teams to Score is available at 11/13 and given the evidence presented we simply have to get involved at that mark.