Ahead of Liverpool’s clash with West Brom Albion on Saturday evening at Anfield, I am indulging in my starting 11 for the game. Who needs to start? Who’ll get dropped?
Who needs to be dropped
Daniel Sturridge. He had a difficult time trying to penetrate United’s back six with limited gaps to work in; he struggled to make penetrating runs nor made any meaningul contribution to the game. A response to his performance on social media stirred a debate on Twitter whether he would be sold by boss Jürgen Klöpp in the forthcoming transfer window. It’s clear that he is not a Jurgen Klopp player; he has seemed to have struggled since the German walked into the club – not willing to put the workrate required to adapt to the Gegenpressing regime. Attitude needs to change.
Emre Can. He was only given a start on Monday due to Georginio Wijnaldum’s absence through injury. However, as the Dutchman was seen training during the week, Can is an almost certaintly to drop out of the squad; having looked rusty in the game against United.
What is needed?
West Brom are a very well drilled side defensively; no doubt will Tony Pulis’ side be content with a point. As Pulis is known for his defensive acumen, it’s almost certainly the visitors will be ready with a gameplan.
Therefore, what Liverpool will need is creativity and firepower. They seemed to lack any spark against Manchester United, which was what the dull duel needed as José Mourinho’s side were clearly set up to defend against a Liverpool side who were big favourites for the contest.
Spot the difference pic.twitter.com/URbTTne6UI
— Kris (@JustFirmino) October 18, 2016
The team had the players to do that, but they just couldn’t find a way past the Red Devils’ bus frustatingly. They’ll face the same challenge against the Baggies here, which is why they’ll need the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino & Philippe Coutinho in their usual positions. Injury problems meant there had to be some reverting from original positions which is arguably why they lacked effectiveness.
Liverpool will also need physicality for the clash. West Brom are known for their threat at set-pieces – it was worryingly easy when they managed to somehow score so easily from set pieces in the previous fixture at Anfield last season; but let’s not forget that it wasn’t his side Klopp was taking over. Players such as Salomon Rondon can be a problem in the box, they are the type of players to look out for.
With Jöel Matip available though, it may give more reassurance for the centre-backs: his height will also be beneficial for the home side! The 6ft 5 Cameroonian can hopefully even bag a goal from a set-piece himself! But worryingly, the midfield does leave you slightly concerned about lack of physical ability in the team with potential starts like Adam Lallana & Jordan Henderson.
How Liverpool should line up:
Loris Karius should start between the sticks, despite fans recently creating unbelievable prophecies on scapegoating the German. It’s time to remember he’s a young keeper who needs time to develop at the club. He’s no Manuel Neuer. He’s been looking slightly unconvincing and nervous of late, though.
The backline to stay unchanged, with James Milner continuing at left-back, Dejan Lovren & Joel Matip coming in as partnering CBs, and finally, last but not least, Nathaniel Clyne will maintain his consistent role at RB.
The midfield has a more rosier feel to it. Jordan Henderson continues in his deeper midfield role. Georginio Wijnaldum, who was declared not quite fit for the visit of Manchester United on Monday returns to the squad, having trained with the team earlier this week.
The three-man midfield is completed as Adam Lallana, who just missed out on a starting place on Monday 17th, came on as a substitute and galvanised the game. He joined Wijnaldum in training back with the squad this week – this time he’s expected to be making a start.
The front three will be led by Roberto Firmino, who was summoned to Philippe Coutinho’s left-wing role against Man United. Coutinho does regain his place on the flanks, and Sadio Mané, despite proving ineffective & stifled on Red Monday, is expected to be started again.
It’s never easy to tip Liverpool as the favourites for any game. Usually, for a team like the Reds, the pressure can buckle; it showed as the team were frustrated by José Mourinho’s defensive tactics at the start of the week. However, Liverpool have been on a good run of form since their defeat to Burnley on August 20 (when they were ridiculed heavily) – but they’ll need to find a strategy to combat the teams that come to Liverpool to defend (e.g Manchester United, now possibly WBA?) – that is key to finishing in the top 4 and having a good season.
The result comes first, then the performance comes last. You need to be able to win ugly in the league to catch up, whether that’s a deflected strike, or a scrappy goal/defensive/goalkeeping error; I think they’ll just have enough to win against West Brom. The problem is, with West Brom, they seem to play well against the big teams, but struggle against the smaller teams in the divison. As Liverpool can be easily perceived as a “big team”, they’ll take the game to us, but, if we’re clincal, the Merseysiders will win easily.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 West Brom
Written by @SteLindellLFC