While several teams lost their games this weekend in the Premier League, two teams especially had a bad weekend in terms of their own results and the results of their peers. For Liverpool, everything had worked out – Chelsea had lost, Arsenal had drawn and eventually Manchester United had also lost. But they themselves failed to grab the initiative resulting in a draw against Everton. Similarly, West Brom needed to win or at least draw to keep some distance from the relegation spots. But the Baggies also conceded a late goal, which left them level on 13 points with the 18th placed West Ham. This Wednesday, these two teams – frustrated from their last result – will take on each other at Anfield.
Although the way the Merseyside derby ended in a draw despite Liverpool dominating the game all the way through must rankle the players, the manager and the fans, Liverpool still are in a good position, going into these next set of games. Sitting in fourth position with 30 points, with just 2 points below Chelsea and a point above the 5th placed Arsenal. The Reds have also been given a kind draw in the Champions League round of last 16 in the form of FC Porto. These net positives should see Liverpool shed the frustration that was very evident after Sunday’s game and come at West Brom with full attacking force. If Liverpool keep winning points against the bottom-half teams, then a few dropped points against the top seven teams will not hurt them as much. This makes Wednesday’s game a must-win for Liverpool.
After an impressive season last time around, West Brom have not been able to match those performance levels this season. The Baggies have not won in last fifteen matches in all competitions, going back to August. After winning the first two league matches, they have drawn seven and lost seven. A change of manager has not brought much luck as they continue to struggle to score and keep the goals out of their own net. They have two extremely tough fixtures coming up in the form of Liverpool and then Manchester United and Pardew will be thankful if they are still out of the relegation zone by the time both those games have been played out.
- In 148 matches between the two sides throughout history, Liverpool have won 68, drawn 42 and lost38. In the Premier League era, the record for Liverpool stands at 14 wins 4 draws and 4 losses.
- West Brom have not beaten Liverpool since November 2013 when they beat the Reds at Anfield by two goals to nil. Since that game, the two sides have met eight times in the Premier League, with the Reds winning four and drawing four.
- West Brom are in terrible form and their recently appointed new manager – Alan Pardew also has not been able to turn their fortunes around by too much. The Baggies are winless in 14 Premier League matches since August.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 14 matches in all competition at home. They have won 8 and drawn 6 of these 14 games.
Although the attacking riches available to Jurgen Klopp are numerous and enviable, but along with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino has been a key player up front for Liverpool. While a return of 5 goals scored and 2 assists provided in the league in 1111 minutes does not seem exceptional, in all competitions, the Brazilian has scored 11 and assisted 5 in 1580 minutes – i.e. a goal contribution every 99 minutes. An xG value of 0.38 per 90 minutes of play and expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes of 0.29 assists, means that Firmino has a 67% chance of scoring or assisting if he plays the entire 90 minutes.
In comparison with the Reds, West Brom have lesser attacking resources but among the strikers Pardew has at his disposal Salomon Rondon is the most likely to trouble the under-pressure Liverpool backline. The Venezuelan has scored 3 goals in all competition for West Brom this season. xG per 90 minutes of 0.19 and xA per 90 minutes of 0.02 mean that Rondon has a 21% chance of contributing a goal in 90 minutes of gameplay.
Jurgen Klopp made bold selection choices in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, which meant that both Roberto Firmino and Phil Coutinho were able to gather a few minutes’ rest. Both of them are expected to feature against West Brom. Jordon Henderson had another poor game on Sunday and could be replaced by Emre Can, while James Milner could make way for Gini Wijnaldum. Klopp might also try to play Trent Alexander Arnold on the right-back
Alan Pardew will be hoping to have both Gareth Barry as well as Matt Phillips available for the trip to Anfield. However, James Morrison, Craig Dawson, and Nacer Chadli all remain sidelined due to their respective injuries. Sam Field was subbed off at half-time during the defeat to Swansea and he might also miss out on a start at Anfield.
If anything, the derby draw on Sunday reinforced the need for more ruthlessness among Liverpool players. The Reds can ill-afford to drop points at this juncture and that will be precisely the message that Klopp sends his team out with. Alan Pardew will be hoping to get his side their first win in several months but it is likely that he will have to wait a bit more as beating a determined Liverpool at Anfield is going to be a tough ask for this West Brom team. It might not be a cakewalk of a victory but it should be a win nevertheless for the Reds.
Liverpool 3 – 1 West Bromwich Albion