28 October 2011

Liverpool at West Brom 10.29.11

12:30pm ET, live in the US on FSC

Last four head-to-head:
1-2 West Brom (a) 04.02.11
1-0 Liverpool (h) 08.29.10
2-0 Liverpool (a) 05.17.09
3-0 Liverpool (h) 11.08.08

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Stoke (a); 1-1 Norwich (h); 1-1 United (h)
West Brom: 2-1 Villa (a); 2-0 Wolves (h); 2-2 Sunderland (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 4; Adam, Bellamy, Carroll, Gerrard, Henderson, Skrtel 1
West Brom: Long 3; Odemwingie 2; Brunt, Morrison, Olsson, Scharner 1

Referee: Lee Mason

Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Carragher Agger Enrique
Henderson Gerrard Lucas Downing
Carroll Suarez

How much of Wednesday's line-up will Liverpool replicate? And have you heard that Roy Hodgson manages West Brom?

There are doubts over both Carragher and Suarez, the former going off at half-time against Stoke with a calf injury, the latter picking up a first-half knock and limping off with five minutes to play. Both have fairly readymade replacements: Skrtel (or, less likely, Coates) for Carragher and Bellamy (or, less likely, Kuyt) for Suarez. Not that anyone can truly replace Suarez or anything, who admittedly looks as if he could use a rest. Still, given how both are ever-presents if remotely fit, chances are they'll start.

With Gerrard, Adam, and Lucas all available, and after Spearing's excellent game against Stoke, Dalglish has a few choices to make in midfield. It's somewhat unfair on Spearing, but the other three are higher up the depth chart, and one of them will probably miss out as well if Dalglish continues with the 4-2-2-2. Adam has started every league match so far, but both Gerrard and Lucas are in better form and more important to Liverpool's fortunes. With all the permutations available, Liverpool still haven't used Gerrard and Lucas in a two-man pairing since beating United 3-1 in March, mainly thanks to the captain's long-standing injury. If Suarez doesn't play, there also a chance Liverpool will line up similarly to that against United, a 4-3-3/4-5-1 with all three involved.

After an inauspicious start for Uncle Roy, winning just one of the first five games, scoring three goals through the first six, West Brom are unbeaten in four, coming off wins over Wolves and Villa. That last win was on the road and after going down 1-0, both exceptionally unfamiliar for a Hodgson-led side. It's seen the Baggies rise up the table to 12th. Which is admittedly more familiar. Still, just four points behind Liverpool and only four worse on goal difference.

West Brom's main injury concern is to starting striker and record signing Shane Long, out for six weeks after chipping a bone in his knee. Somen Tchoyi or Simon Cox will partner Odemwingie if Hodgson sticks with his preferred 4-4-2. If Cox starts, it could be the same front six as featured against Liverpool in April: Reid, Scharner, Mulumbu, and Thomas remain West Brom's first-choice midfield. And I barely need mention that Hodgson's sides are always, always, always better at home and that Liverpool are still recovering from the effects of his away day tactics, both of which were evident when the two sides met in April.

Liverpool are quietly unbeaten in six, with more focus on the goal-shy disappointments of Norwich and United rather than recent positives. Which is an apt demonstration of Liverpool's potential and promise; we should be disappointed Liverpool aren't higher up the league table. It's a sign that the we're all – fans, players, staff – getting over the traumas of the last two seasons. Expectations are rightfully high.

Of course, that might all change if West Brom manages to pull one over on Liverpool for the second-straight meeting.

No comments :