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Liverpool v West Brom Preview: Clarke Attack

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Liverpool look to put a disappointing draw to Newcastle behind them as they welcome Steve Clarke and the Baggies back to Anfield.

Michael Regan

US: NBC EPL Extra Channels (491 on DirecTv)

UK: Looks like it is not televised

Last season West Brom did the double on Liverpool, winning by a combined 5-0. Steve Clarke seemed more than happy to punish his former club for not keeping him around and did so quite well. However, this is a new year and a new(er) Liverpool that is clicking in a way we never quite saw last year (until last week). With the international break hangover surely a lingering memory (much like those days when you say, "I'll never drink again") Liverpool should be up for the challenge.

West Brom have had the start we would have all expected, sitting mid table looking neither great nor bad unlike last year where they were the Southampton of the league at this time. This game sees them coming off the back of draws to Arsenal and Stoke. Before that, they did beat United at Old Trafford (even though that isn't much of a feat this year) so there is cause for concern. They do have some injuries which might hamper them. Scott Sinclair is coming off a hamstring injury and will likely be questionable for a return. Zoltan Gera also is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool are finally getting back to full health. Coutinho doesn't appear to be ready for this match, but should be getting close. Enrique is likely still out having undergone treatment on a lingering knee problem. This will leave Rodgers with another dilemma. Without a proper wingback on the left, it might be wise to put the 3-5-2 to rest for this game considering the number of defensive reinforcements that he now has at his disposal.

These kinds of bitter ex-employee matches (as Clarke has stated he would have been happy to stay under Rodgers) always make me nervous. Given the lack of chemistry last match a draw would not be surprising at all. However, SAS will have had a week of training to get back on the same page. Lucas will likely hold down the midfield which should allow Henderson to push forward and have much more influence on the match than he did at Newcastle. Overall though, this has a draw written all over it. Three points will be important and these are the games at home that Liverpool should be winning. With the Arsenal match looming large next week, keeping pace and pressure on them is very important.

Pre-match thoughts from the crew:

-Toure has looked capable as a wingback (although not ideal). If Rodgers sticks with the 3-5-2 it wouldn't be surprising to see Johnson down the left as he did a couple times last year. (Adam)

-I think if we see the 3-5-2 we'll have Johnson left and, with Lucas coming back into the team, Hendo on the right. (Matt)

-That said, I'm jonesing for a four man back line. Liverpool are out for revenge against a mediocre team that took 6 points from us last year. Press from the front, control the game, and kick some tail. (Matt)

-I will NOT miss Romelu Lukaku in these fixtures. On the other side, Phil Coutinho's continued absence pains my soul. (Matt)

-Does Moses start or will Luis Alberto get his first league nod after an impressive substitute appearance against Newcastle? (loyal2reds)

-This is a chance for Liverpool to prove that Anfield is becoming an impenetrable fortress once again. These games at home need to be taken care of. (loyal2reds)

-I'd like to see Moses on the wing again and maybe give Hendo a rest. He wasn't at his best at the Newcie Brown Ale's and it maybe a reminder that he's still only young. So maybe you'd give Alberto a chance after a couple of successful short cameo's in the middle of the park. (John)

-What we need to be afraid of from West Brom though is the counter. They did it well against the Scum and Arsenal, and they'll also be mindful of our pass and move play, as Clarke was here when Kenny started implementing the scheme back when he was boss. This might be more of a tricky game than we imagine.. (John)