That sense of dread you feel is normal. Liverpool are set to play West Brom tomorrow afternoon/morning/middle of the night, and to the casual observer, it's not necessarily a cause for much other than a passive, "oh." We know better, however. We know that, unlike fixtures against Manchester United or Chelsea or Tottenham or etc., it's these matches that are the most dangerous, and these matches that lend themselves most to Liverpool getting dominated.
There's also the fact that West Brom have won their last three against Liverpool in league, doing the double last season and winning their last two at Anfield. The League Cup win at the Hawthorns last season means little for Liverpool, partly because it was the League Cup, and partly because Liverpool will have only three players--Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, and Brad Jones--available from that day. Simply put, West Brom should arrive feeling plenty confident, with strong displays over the last few weeks adding to their belief that a result is entirely possible.
Those displays have included wins at home to Sunderland and away to Manchester United, with the latter coming via an impressive second-half display. Steve Clarke's approach is no surprise at this point--wait, wait, wait more, and then break on the counter at the opportune moment, be it early in the match or late on when the opposition's tired themselves out. Last season's win at Anfield was as good an example as any of what they'll try to do tomorrow.
Clarke won't have Romelu Lukaku, of course, be he still has Shane Long and has added Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe to his attacking contingent. It's likely only one will start, with Stephane Sessegnon set to play off the striker and Jordan Amalfitano and Saido Barahino--in place of the injured Scott Sincliar--added support from the wide areas. Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob will continue their impressive partnership deeper in the midfield, and Boaz Myhill will be in goal behind a likely back line of Billy Jones, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, and Liam Ridgewell.
Toure Sakho Agger
Johnson Lucas Gerrard Cissokho
Henderson Sakho Agger Johnson
Allen Lucas Gerrard
Two elevens--one likely, the next wishful thinking. Not too terribly different, but the latter at least pretends to have a midfield and includes a number of players that are more focused on possession, distribution, and limiting the number of opportunities for the opposition to break. Against a side that's focused on counter-attacking football, that might be a nice thing. Doesn't mean it'll happen, but a girl can dream.
Anyhow, the injury news is again half-decent, with Philippe Coutinho confirmed to be in contention next weekend at Arsenal and Jose Enrique edging closer to a return after his surgery over the international break. Sebastian Coates continues to miss out long-term, but otherwise the squad should be at full strength.
With Enrique still out, Brendan Rodgers has two options--stick with Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho as his fullbacks/wingbacks, or slide Johnson over to the left and have Jordan Henderson deputize on the right. I'd much prefer the latter, along with a switch to four across the back rather than three. Mamadou Sakho will start for sure, and I think it's about time that Daniel Agger resurface whether it's two or three. Martin Skrtel would be the one to drop out, I'd guess, though it could always be Kolo Toure. But seriously, Kolo's not going anywhere with three at the back.
The midfield will be a major area of contention, with the most pressing question being whether or not it actually exists. If it's Lucas and Steven Gerrard, hopefully their partnership is aided by the inclusion of Luis Alberto; there is no reason for Rodgers to persist with Victor Moses in any formation that demands he play a central role, and Alberto's impressed enough to warrant a start. That's no slight to Moses, who absolutely should start if the manager is going to push him wide. The number ten, if Rodgers opts for one, needs to be Luis Alberto, whose skill on the ball and in distribution could prove critical. Bonus points if Henderson covers at fullback and Joe Allen makes his return because why not.
The pointy end is going to stay the same until it isn't, with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge leading the line. Interesting comments from Suarez regarding the goalscoring load, however, as he's cognizant of the fact that Sturridge is now the man in front of goal. This hopefully frees the Uruguayan up to buzz around more, and that ideally wreaks havoc against the West Brom back line. Also, there's nobody to back them up, which is not a good thing.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM BST/10:00AM EST, with NBC Sports Live Extra set to air the match live in the US. Reminder of the unquestionably awesome Premier League Extra Time for stateside viewers as well, which means you can watch the match on TV rather than computer/mobile device. EPL Talk has a helpful breakdown of where the matches can be found. We'll have matchday and overnight coverage as usual, with the team sheets included an hour before the match gets going. Hope you'll be around to join us.