Liverpool: Iago Aspas, Sebastian Coates & Jose Enrique - Out; Philippe Coutinho - Doubtful
West Bromwich Albion: Ben Foster, Zoltan Gera, Scott Sinclair & George Thorne - Out
West Bromwich Albion: None
West Bromwich Albion: DWWDD
These two teams come into the game with almost identical form - however whilst Liverpool have slowly chucked away vital points, West Brom have made massive waves by beating Man Utd and gaining a draw against Arsenal - they have dispelled their early season woes and I predict they will give Liverpool an almighty battle at Anfield.
If Liverpool's previous four league encounters with West Brom are anything to go by, then despite having home advantage, it is West Brom not Liverpool who go into this match as favourites. I concur with this logic, although I am normally not one for such journalistic platitudes, their previous four encounters all which were all won by West Brom holds significant value.
In those four games Liverpool completely dominated the matches, only to be undone by their own poor finishing and comical defending. This year only one out of those three variables serves to be true: Liverpool have been unable to dictate the proceedings of a match, despite this their brilliant finishing has bailed them out, although their terrible defending from set-plays continues to hound them.
Despite the stipulations being different compared to previous contests between the two sides, I believe the current stipulations still spells trouble for Liverpool. As Liverpool cannot control a game, how do they expect to feed SAS? I am aware it has not been a problem in most matches except one, the most telling one: Southampton. West Brom's midfield duo of Claudio Yacob and Youssof Mulumbu is just a ferocious as Southampton's.
Against Southampton, Liverpool were subjected to being tackled 38 times - a figure Yacob (with 34 tackles this season, 4.3 per game) and Mulumbu (who has made a total of 23 interceptions, 2.9 per game) are capable of helping West Brom achieve. Add into the mix West Brom's organised defence which has seen Gareth McAuley catch 10 players offside this season (1.8 per game) you get the feeling will need to be near their A-game to defeat their bogey-team.
Unless they change to 4-3-3 to combat their lack of suaveness with more defensive cover, Liverpool will yet again find themselves overrun. If there is any consultation it comes in the form of West Brom's attack. Yes, they may be organised but they cannot score. Nicolas Anelka is finished and if he starts alone (highly unlikely) against Liverpool, the back three they will have him for dinner. Shane Long is a hard worker and has decent touches but the highest he has to his name in the Premier League is 8 goals. Finally there is Victor Anichebe but what applies to Long also applies to him.
Again, I am aware this has not stopped West Brom from beating Liverpool four times in a row, but Liverpool's defence is far stronger than it has previously been. The only way I can see West Brom scoring from is a set-piece - Liverpool are good at defending on the deck, but in the air they are poor at organising themselves for set-pieces.
Offensively, I will always back one of the SAS to score and cause drama in a match. Although I expect the middle to be cancelled out, Glen Johnson could prove a match winner (not saying he will score but make a difference). Left back Liam Ridgewell is not the greatest and if Liverpool can attack down the right (like they normally do) with vigor, it may be enough.
My cop out: it could easily go either way.
Liverpool 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored