20 April 2018

Liverpool at West Brom 04.21.18

7:30am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
2-3 West Brom (h; FA Cup) 01.27.18
0-0 (h) 12.13.17
1-0 Liverpool (a) 04.16.17
2-1 Liverpool (h) 10.22.16

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 Bournemouth (h); 2-1 City (a); 0-0 Everton (a)
West Brom: 1-0 United (a); 1-1 Swansea (h); 1-2 Burnley (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 30; Firmino 15; Mané 10; Coutinho 7; Can, Oxlade-Chamberlain 3; Sturridge 2; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
West Brom: Rodriguez 7; Rondon 6; Dawson, Evans, Hegazi, Robson-Kanu 2; Barry, Chadli, Field, McClean, Morrison, Phillips 1

Referee: Stuart Attwell (LFCHistory) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Alex O-C Henderson Milner
Salah Firmino Mané

You may have heard that Liverpool have a Champions League semi-final against Roma on Tuesday.

You may also have some idea what that's going to do to tomorrow's XI. I do not.

My suspicion is that it changes nothing.

Maybe Klavan comes in for Lovren, just back from injury. Maybe Gomez, now back from injury, comes in for Alexander-Arnold. It's still three from four in midfield, and Wijnaldum could easily replace any of the above. But I don't see wholesale rest or rotation.

I understand the desire to leave out key players. Liverpool are heavily reliant on that front three for goals, Liverpool only have four available central midfielders. That defense has finally gotten pretty good with those four players involved, and one's injury prone and two are still pretty young. And while tomorrow's match is still necessary in the top-four race, Tuesday's match is one of the most important this club's seen in a decade. But Klopp et al have been planning this season's training and fitness schedule to peak right now. But Klopp et al will not want to take the foot off the gas prior to that semifinal, and with the fight for next season's Champions League places still somewhat in the balance.

Klopp et al will want Liverpool to keep doing Liverpool. They've done a fairly good job of that over the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, West Brom. They might not be bad anymore? Sure, they're still bottom the table, by a good bit. They're almost certain to be relegated. But they also just beat Manchester United at Manchester United to hand City the title when City couldn't do it themselves a week before, winning 1-0 thanks to a scrambled corner in the 73rd minute.

And that win at United looked a lot like West Brom's draw at Anfield in December,aside from Rodriguez's winner. West Brom were deep. United were slow. And West Brom sucked all the energy and all the life out of the opposition, holding them at bay far too easily for United's liking.

Not to mention that there's also Liverpool's loss to West Brom in the FA Cup two months ago. Self-inflicted nonsense despite going a goal up within five minutes, with an added helping of VAR fun. That was arguably the last time that Liverpool have been bad defensively.

But West Brom were very much helped by Liverpool in that last meeting. West Brom were very much helped in that United match by United's style of play. By United's pace of play. Liverpool – when Liverpool actually do Liverpool – do not play at that tempo.

I suspect we'll still see the same XI as against United. Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Phillips, Livermore, Brunt, McClean; Rondon, Rodriguez. Maybe Krychowiak or Yacob come into midfield in pace of Brunt. Or maybe Field at left-back. Morrison is out; Evans, Robson-Kanu, and Barry are doubtful; Sturridge – who's healthy again! – is ineligible.

West Brom will play two up top, and those will be the only two players in Liverpool's half for the majority of the game. There will be a lot of long balls, mainly from Foster and the center-backs, to those two strikers. West Brom will have two speedy wingers on the flanks in the hopes of counter-attacking when Liverpool throw bodies forward. West Brom will have those long balls, those counters, and maybe some set plays, and they'll hope for the best on at least one of them, but their main goal will be keeping Liverpool out.

While West Brom aren't mathematically relegated, West Brom are already relegated. Making up at least nine points in four games almost certainly isn't happening. But if last week's any indication, they're not going out without a fight. "A fight" is all they have left, and Darren Moore's only job for the rest of the season is to make sure they continue to fight. For places in next season's Championship side or for transfers to other clubs.

West Brom have already given Liverpool a fight twice this season, ensuring that at least one relegated side will take points off of Liverpool for the fourth consecutive season, and for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons.

I demand vengeance for those previous two meetings. I demand vengeance for 15 of those last 16 seasons. I demand a head on a spike, in full view of a Roma side paying attention to what Liverpool's up to this weekend. A Roma side who will rest a lot more players than Liverpool rest, regardless of Liverpool's XI. I demand that Liverpool do Liverpool, for the first time this season against this opposition.

1 comment :

criynwa said...

WBA is a pretty good warm up for the Roma match. Big man up top with pacey sidekicks and good defending. Hmmm.