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Preview: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Champions Liverpool will be looking to maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table when they host struggling West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Sunday.

The Reds are four points clear at the summit following last weekend's 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace, but in Sam Allardyce they face the last visiting manager to come away with a league victory at Anfield.


Match preview

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on December 19, 2020© Reuters

April 23, 2017 was the last time Liverpool lost a league game at home; 1,344 days - three years and eight months - and 66 matches have passed since then, and on Sunday Allardyce will look to repeat the achievement.

Allardyce was in charge of Crystal Palace that day but finds himself with a much bigger task bringing West Brom to Anfield off the back of a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa in his first match at the helm.

Liverpool know better than anyone how dangerous Villa can be when they click, but the Reds finally wiped out the impact of their infamous 7-2 defeat earlier in the season with a 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace last time out.

The win was Liverpool's biggest ever top-flight victory away from home and saw seven different players assist a goal for a team in a single match for the first time in Premier League history.

It also saw Jurgen Klopp pick up his 127th Premier League win as Liverpool boss - surpassing Rafael Benitez for most in the club's history - and he will be confident of quickly chalking up number 128 on Sunday.

Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring for Liverpool against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on December 19, 2020© Reuters

Perhaps the most ominous aspect of this match for the Baggies is that Liverpool have been much better at home than they have on the road this term; the overall length of their 66-game unbeaten Anfield run is remarkable, but arguably more impressive is the fact that they have won 32 of the last 33, picking up 97 points from a possible 99 in the process.

Against promoted teams specifically Liverpool have won all 14 home games under Klopp by an aggregate score of 41-7, while they have only lost one of their last 52 such matches, and that was back in 2010-11.

The champions are unbeaten in their last 10 games since their scarcely-believable defeat at Aston Villa and, despite a crippling injury crisis, now sit four points clear at the top of the table with the best attacking record and goal difference in the division.

Worryingly for the rest of the league, Liverpool's injury problems are showing signs of relenting heading into the New Year too, and Sunday's match appears to be a very kind fixture for them to make it three league wins on the bounce for the first time since their opening three games of the season.

West Brom have the second-worst goal difference of any club in England's top four tiers - ahead of only Southend United, who occupy spot number 92 of 92 in the pyramid - having only scored 10 goals so far this season while shipping 29.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce pictured on December 20, 2020© Reuters

The appointment of Allardyce was no doubt done with one eye on the latter figure, although his side were comfortably swept aside by Aston Villa in the West Midlands derby last weekend and so fans may not be too optimistic for this trip to Anfield.

West Brom have lost 29 of their last 34 top-flight matches against the reigning champions, winning only two, and have also only won one of their previous 17 games against a team starting the day at the top of the table.

The defeat to Villa leaves the Baggies 19th in the standings and now five points from safety, with only one win to their name from their opening 14 games - only the third time they have ever recorded one win or fewer at this stage of a season.

That said, there are glimmers of hope for West Brom; Allardyce is unbeaten on his last three Premier League visits to Anfield, and Liverpool have surprisingly only won four of their last 13 Premier League meetings with the Baggies.

West Brom also held Manchester City to a draw in their last away game and, while that came under Slaven Bilic in what proved to be his final match in charge, it could perhaps offer Allardyce a blueprint of how to set up at Anfield.

Liverpool Premier League form: WDWDWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWDDWW

West Bromwich Albion Premier League form: LWLLDL


Team News

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara after the full-time whistle against Everton on October 17.© Reuters

Liverpool have been handed a festive boost by Thiago Alcantara, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri all returning to training earlier this week.

Sunday's match will still come too soon for Thiago, while Milner and Shaqiri may not yet be ready to be thrown straight back into the starting lineup, but an end to their respective recoveries is now in sight and they could be in contention at some stage over the upcoming busy period.

The champions are still without long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas, but they will have had eight days between games ahead of this one so elsewhere there should be relatively fresh legs.

Mohamed Salah will be pushing for a return to the starting XI after being reduced to a cameo off the bench against Palace, although he did still help himself to two goals and an assist.

The Egyptian winger has been directly involved in 15 goals in 10 Premier League home appearances against newly-promoted teams, including netting a hat-trick against Leeds United on the opening day of this season.

Roberto Firmino will also be hopeful of retaining his place having now scored three goals and created another in his last two league outings - as many goal contributions as in his opening 12 games this term.

West Brom have Matheus Pereira back from suspension for this match, but Jake Livermore is now out for the next three games following his red card against Aston Villa.

Conor Townsend, Hal Robson-Kanu and Kyle Bartley are all closing in on returns from injury, but this match is likely to come too soon.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O'Shea, Gibbs; Sawyers; Phillips, Pereira, Gallagher, Diangana; Grant


SM words green background

We say: Liverpool 4-0 West Bromwich Albion

Everything points towards only one result in this match, and that is a comfortable home win. The Reds have not lost at home since April 2017, whereas West Brom have not won an away top-flight game since April 2018, and even a draw for the visitors would be a significant shock.

The Baggies' recent stalemate at Man City, and the fact that Allardyce was the last visiting manager to win here in the league, should give West Brom some hope, but it looks like being a huge ask for them to simply keep the score down, yet alone get a point or more.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data



Video prediction

Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:


ID:427858:cQx:QQ:

How you voted: Liverpool vs West Brom

Liverpool
87.2%
Draw
5.1%
West Bromwich Albion
7.7%
117
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West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic pictured in November 2020
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Slaven Bilic believes West Brom can shock Manchester City
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City26195252163662
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd25147453322149
3Leicester CityLeicester25154644271749
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham2613674031945
5Chelsea25127641251643
6Liverpool25117745341140
7Everton2412483733440
8Aston Villa24123938261239
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs24106837271036
10Leeds UnitedLeeds26112134344-135
11Arsenal25104113126534
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2697102733-634
13Crystal Palace2595112943-1432
14Southampton2586113143-1230
15Burnley2577111830-1228
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton26511102633-726
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2675142744-1726
18Fulham25410112132-1122
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2638152055-3517
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2532201541-2611

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