West Brom v Liverpool – Match Preview

Liverpool will be eager to get one over on former boss Roy Hodgson as they travel to the Midlands to face West Brom desperate to avenge the 2-1 defeat suffered at the Hawthorns in April.

Hodgson endured a nightmare six months at Anfield after replacing Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2010 before being shoved out by new owner John W. Henry in favour of Reds god Kenny Dalglish. His time at the Hawthorns hasn’t been as eventful as his spell on Merseyside although despite providing the inspiration and experience in helping them pull away from relegation the current campaign has been disappointing. A disappointing start saw fears creep in about another relegation battle but two consecutive wins have raised the levels of optimism in supporters minds. Beating Midlands rivals Aston Villa in their own backyard certainly allayed fans fears of another flirtation with the dreaded drop as they stretched their unbeaten run to four games. If they beat Liverpool on Saturday it will be their longest winning run in the top flight since 2002 when Gary Megson guided them to three victories on the trot. They’ll have to do it without Shane Long who was ruled out for six weeks after suffering an ankle injury last week. With only three goals going in at the Hawthorns this season the onus on Peter Odemwingie and the likes of Chris Brunt and James Morrison to find the back of the net in what will be their 100th Premier League game at home. Their record against Liverpool isn’t the best and Hodgson will need to provide some telling words to inspire his team to victory.

Dalglish’s men have an admirable record at the Hawthorns having remained unbeaten in 12 of the last 13 meetings against the Baggies until April’s defeat. Their mid-week Carling Cup victory over Stoke will have sapped energy levels but don’t expect the Reds to slack off as they continue their hunt for a top four place. Luis Suarez’s goal took him to seven for the season and his tenacious approach up front will surely give the West Brom defenders nightmares prior to the game. His partnership with record signing Andy Carroll is slowly starting to blossom and if the pair strike the right chord on Saturday then the home side could be in for a world of hurt. Dalglish has worked hard to get the Geordie striker up to speed following a slow start to his Anfield career but recent performances seem to indicate he is getting back to his bulldozing best. The return of Steven Gerrard has also provided a boost with the captain looking fitter and more motivated than he has done in the last 18 months. A win this week is imperative for Merseyside’s though after drawing the last two at home to Manchester United and Norwich.

Key Players

Chris Brunt – Albion skipper Brunt has finally started to show the form that made him one of the most feared left footed wingers in the Premier League. A loss of form coupled with injury had seen the Northern Ireland international man’s performances drop but he now looks back to his best but will be off penalty duty after his embarrassing miss at Villa last week.

Luis Suarez – Seven goals already this season with more certain to come. The Uruguayan has been a revelation since signing from Ajax with Liverpool’s system designed to get the best out of him. It’s certainly worked as Suarez has terrorised defences all season with his pace and determined approach up front.

Prediction: 1-3

  • West Brom covered 110.005km in that game, with goal scorer Paul Scharner covering the most ground in that game with 11.104km
  • Jonas Olsson scored his first Barclays Premier League goal of the season against Villa, but the  Swedish defender has been using his power in the air for more defensive duties so far this season, having made more clearances than any other player (25)
  • Luis Suarez saw the post and an inspired performance from Norwich ‘keeper John Ruddy prevent him from getting on the score sheet against Norwich
  • The Uruguayan striker is surely due a change in fortunes, as he has now had 36 attempts returning just 4 goals. Suarez has got 67% of those attempts on target, and is second only to Robin van Persie in both overall attempts and efforts on target.