Kickoff: 12:30pm EST, 5:30 BST
TV: FSC (and for us DirectTV viewers, perhaps our last chance
to watch Liverpool on our couch outside of ESPN 2)
Sometimes the themes are too obvious to ignore, no matter how easy and tired they may be.
Liverpool travel to the Hawthorns, and we can expect a broadcast full of descriptions of Roy Hodgson trying to get another one over on the club and support that mistreated him so. There will be tons of comparisons between his and Dalglish's record, you can be sure. There will be stories and theories as to why it didn't work, and comments connecting whatever action takes place on the pitch to whatever it can loosely connected to from the Hodgson Era.
Quite frankly, I don't care, and I don't think most Liverpool supporters do either. Maybe last April when these teams last filled each other's dance card we wanted to show Roy how far we'd come after his departure, and maybe that loss stung a bit more than a loss to WBA normally would (it did). But now? It's over, long in the past, and the concerns are where the club is now and where it's headed. And neither of those have anything to do with Old Woy. Sadly, there will be some in the press who will continue on with the theme we've tried our best to leave behind.
Anyway, to the match itself. A couple of injury concerns for The Pool, as both Jamie Carragher and Luis Suarez hobbled out of the Stoke match on Wednesday. One is obviously more worrying than the other. Considering the pace that Peter Odemwingie comes with, I'd rather see a starting defense of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger anyway, not to unfairly disparage our vice-captain or anything, but it's simple logic. Dalglish didn't seem to think that Suarez's injury was all that serious, and considering Liverpool need a win away from home, if Suarez can stand up for six consecutive seconds and remember his name, he's probably going to start.
And there's the main rub. This season, Liverpool haven't been startling away from home in the league. The record might not look awful, P4 2W 2L, but the only genuine performance was one of the losses, at Stoke. The wins came over a battered Arsenal side and a misfit Everton, with both performances being spotty. It would be a boon for everyone if Pool could finally manage to impose their will and other things on a team in their ground.
As for the rest of the lineup, pretty certain that Enrique, Johnson, and Gerrard all return. Charlie Adam most likely does as well. And Stewart Downing. I kind of hope Andy Carroll's somewhat bright performance at Stoke gives him another shot, but that's no guarantee. Perhaps the best guess is the trusted 4-2-2-2 with Lucas and Adam behind Gerrard and Downing. If Suarez can't go, it probably shifts to a 4-2-3-1 with Henderson or Bellamy or Kuyt coming in wide.
Sadly, this is not the best-picked opponent to try and get three points away from home against. WBA haven't lost in four, with two wins over neighbors Wolves and Villa, so the confidence is up. Shane Long, their leading scorer, is out through injury but the man who tore Liverpool apart last time, Odemwingie, is healthy. That beast Mulumbu, who basically bent our midfield over the coffee table in April, is also an ever-present, but hopefully the troika of Gerrard, Lucas, and Adam can do better.
After last week's draw with Norwich, a win here is basically mandatory. I'll have a gamethread up right before kickoff, and I'll also be tweeting during the game. Join us for both.