8:30am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (h) 11.08.08
2-0 Liverpool (a) 04.01.06
1-0 Liverpool (h) 12.31.05
5-0 Liverpool (a) 12.26.04
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 West Ham (a); 3-0 Newcastle (h); 3-1 Hull (a)
West Brom: 3-1 Wigan (h); 0-1 Spurs (a); 3-0 Sunderland (h)
Liverpool: Gerrard 15; Torres 13; Kuyt 11; Benayoun 7; Alonso 4; Babel, Riera 3; Aurelio, Ngog 2; Agger, Arbeloa, Carragher, Dossena, Hyypia, Lucas 1
West Brom: Brunt 8; Bednar 6; Fortune 4; Miller, Morrison 3; Greening, Koren, Olsson 2; Beattle, Menseguez, Moore, Simpson 1
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Insua
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
Yes, yes. Manchester United probably "sealed” the title with the late win (surprise of surprises) at Wigan on Wednesday. Chances are they’ll take at least a point from Hull or Arsenal. And we’ll know by the time this match kicks off, with United hosting Arsenal at early Saturday morning.
But I doubt it’ll have much impact on the team selection. Maybe the bench, as it’d be nice to see some youngsters get a chance, but there’s still a race for second, at the least. Even if (when) the worst comes true, Liverpool need every point possible – the higher the total this season, the higher the confidence next season. Liverpool’s best haul under Benitez was 82 points in 2005-06.
Benitez says Alonso will be available, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start. Whether it’s Alonso or Lucas is the only real question I have over the line-up (although it could be Benayoun or Riera on the left, as well as Agger or Skrtel in defense). Although, as has been seen when Xabi’s been missing in previous games, his passing could be the difference against a packed defense.
And make no mistake – West Brom will have a packed defense. Mowbray’s been acclaimed because Albion have tried to play aesthetically pleasing football more often than not, and criticized because that open style sees them on the foot of the table. But West Brom will simply hope for a point from Sunday. With Boro and the Baggies both on 31 points, and Hull and Newcastle three points ahead, any point will do. In theory you’d think (hope?) they’d play for the win, but it’s more likely they’ll go for damage limitation here and hope for a win against Blackburn the following week.
West Brom have played well of late, with wins over Wigan and Sunderland giving them a slim shot at avoiding the drop. They’ve scored six in their last two home games, which is something like a sixth of all their goals during the campaign. ‘On paper’ means nothing; this will not be an easy match. Struggling against relegation, there will be fight in the opposition. But there’s been a fair bit of fight in Liverpool as well.