12 December 2017

Liverpool v West Brom 12.13.17

3pm ET, live in the US on NBC Sports Gold

Last four head-to-head:
1-0 Liverpool (a) 04.16.17
2-1 Liverpool (h) 10.22.16
1-1 (a) 05.15.16
2-2 (h) 12.13.15

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Everton (h); 7-0 Spartak (h); 5-1 Brighton (a)
West Brom: 0-1 Swansea (a); 0-0 Palace (h); 2-2 Newcastle (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 13; Firmino 5; Coutinho, Mané 4; Sturridge 2; Alex O-C, Can, Henderson, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
West Brom: Robson-Kanu, Rodriguez, Rondon 2; Chadli, Evans, Field, Hegazi, Morrison, Phillips 1

Referee: Paul Tierney (LFC History) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Lovren Klavan Milner
Wijnaldum Henderson Can
Mané Firmino Coutinho

Sunday was the Sam Allardyce Redemption Match, and now we get Alan Pardew as a second act. Fantastic. The magical manager tour is coming to take us away.

It shouldn't matter. And Liverpool should have been up for this match regardless, but now they've extra motivation after Sunday's miscarriage of justice.

Maybe we'll get the first choice front four, but I suspect rotation and rest will continue and this time it's Salah's turn. But even if that's the case, your guess remains as good as mine who will start and how they'll line up. As per usual of late.

Maybe the above. Maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain on the flank with Coutinho in midfield. Maybe 4-4-2, with Sturridge, Solanke, or even Ings joining Firmino up top and one of Henderson, Can, and Wijnaldum left out. Moreno and Matip remain absent, but Adam Lallana returns to contention. Given it's his first game back in the squad after a short absence after a long absence, I suspect he'll be used as a substitute at most.

Whomever starts, in whichever formation, I expect a reaction to Sunday's disappointment. I expect blood and thunder, hellfire and brimstone. I expect – nay, demand – goals. Lots of them.

Especially since Liverpool's opponent is winless since August.

You live by Pulisball, you eventually die by Pulisball. And that's exactly what happened. West Brom finished 13th in 2014-15 after Pulis took over midway through the season, 14th in 2015-16, and 10th in 2016-17. It was exactly as expected: good enough and organized enough to stay up, but not a whole lot more, and a whole lot of ugly football. And then West Brom won its first three matches this season: 1-0 against Bournemouth and Burnley, 3-1 in the League Cup.

And then West Brom fell off a cliff. They'd draw four and lose seven in the next 11 games and Pulis would be fired with West Brom in 17th, just a point outside the relegation zone.

And now West Brom's contracted a severe case of Pardew-mania.

Pardew's played all three of West Brom's strikers in the front three of a 4-3-3 in his two matches in charge, but Klopp doesn't think that'll be the case tomorrow. McClean, Brunt, and Burke are all more orthodox wingers, as are Chadli, Phillips, and Brunt if they're available. Incidentally, West Brom are yet to score since Pardew became manager despite playing three strikers in a front three.

My guess at tomorrow's XI is still pretty close to the side we've seen from Pardew's two games. Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs; Livermore, Yacob, Field; McClean, Rondon, Rodriguez. Morrison, Barry, and Dawson are absent through injury, while Chadli, Phillips, and Brunt are doubtful. If any of the doubtful three are available, they'd be definite possibilities on the flanks. Krychowiak could also start in midfield in place of Field.

Pardew doesn't have the same history of frustrating Liverpool that Allardyce has, but we've had our moments. His first meeting with Klopp's Liverpool saw Palace win 2-1. His record for Newcastle and Palace against Rodgers' Liverpool was 2W-2D-3L. He is one of that tribe of perpetual Premier League managers whose career goal seems to be to take charge of every single club outside the top six.

And Pardew's style is more attacking than Allardyce, but it won't be that much more attacking. The remnants of Pulisball still linger. West Brom remain tough to beat: 0-4 v Chelsea – Pulis' last match – and 0-2 at Arsenal are West Brom's only losses by more than one goal. Only Chelsea and City have scored more than twice against West Brom. West Brom haven't scored in Pardew's two matches, but they've only conceded once: Swansea's late winner from a fortuitous corner scramble on Saturday.

Hegazi's big like West Brom's center-backs are always big, but can actually play a little. Jonny Evans was supposedly wanted by Manchester City last summer. Barry and Yacob can ugly up a game in midfield, Rondon and Rodriguez are handfuls on both counter-attacks and set plays.

But if Liverpool can do Liverpool – the Liverpool we saw in seven wins while scoring three goals over the last ten matches, not the Liverpool which fumbles and frustrates and concedes from a late stupid mistake, mind you – it won't matter. It shouldn't matter.

1 comment :

Gabe said...

Die NBC Sports Gold, die.