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Match Preview: Liverpool v. West Bromwich Albion, 08.29.10

Along with a flurry of other news ahead of tomorrow's match.

Even with the hard-fought win at Trabzon on Thursday, the week ended on a relatively discouraging note.

Raul Meireles Set for Liverpool?

Javier Mascherano's exit wasn't the smoothest affair, and there's been plenty of consternation about Liverpool's lack of activity with the transfer window quickly closing. The club clearly need depth in more than a few areas, but there hasn't been any sort of news on signings to address those needs.

We've known about the Paul Konchesky deal---who, incidentally, has been left out of the Fulham squad to face Blackpool amidst rumors that he's set for an Anfield medical in the coming hours or days---but aside from him, there's been no links of note for the club just four days ahead of the window's closing.

So you'll have to excuse the collective shock when the news about the potential of signing Raul Meireles broke late last night. Going from the loss of Mascherano to a link with one of the better central midfielders in Europe and a standout performer in the World Cup is not the way we've seen Liverpool in the past few years---it was quick, it was out of nothing, and, most of all, it makes a world of sense.

I'm going to try to hold off on the gushing praise of the move until it's actually confirmed by the official site. Wait, what, is has been?

Liverpool complete £10.7m deal for Porto's Raul Meireles - Liverpool FC_1283004171785

Fantastic stuff! Now if...oh, nevermind, this story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

The deal may indeed go through, but come on official site, at least stick to rumors that don't proclaim an actual signing has occurred.

Carling Cup Third-Round Draw

The draw for the third round of the League Cup was earlier today, and Liverpool will host Northampton in a match set for the week of September 20th. The League Two side progressed via a win in the second round over Reading, the club that sent Liverpool out of the FA Cup in disgrace in January.

The match against Reading was plenty noteworthy---the Cobblers were trailing late in extra time after Matt Mills notched his second of the day in the 113th minute. In the 120th, though, Mills deflected a free kick into his own goal, and Northampton eventually won in a penalty shootout 4-2.

In terms of their status in English football, this will be the easiest competition Liverpool have faced in the Carling Cup in what seems like years. It's by no means a cake-walk, though, as the Reds have had a difficult time progressing in any competition recently. I fully expect this competition to again serve as a run-out for the reserves, and given the squad's lack of depth and injury concerns that's the right move. But progressing isn't the worst thing in the world, either.

Baggies visit Anfield

Winners of two straight in all competitions, West Brom will head to Anfield hoping to do a bit better than their last Premier Leauge road trip, which ended in a 6-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. The newly-promoted side are one of the consensus picks to go straight back down to the Championship, but they looked solid in the win against Sunderland and at Leyton Orient midweek, and they're more than able to cause some problems for Liverpool.

Roberto Di Matteo has the Midlands side playing a solid brand of football, and he's managed to assemble a squad with plenty of quality---Scott Carson, for all his troubles in the national side, is still a good goalkeeper, Graham Dorrens has been terrific in the past few seasons in the midfield, and the newly arrived Peter Odemwingie got the winner against Sunderland last Saturday. They've also re-signed Marc-Antoine Fortune, and he'll provide depth and experience up top.

For Liverpool, we'll stick to the basics:

1. Who will start for Liverpool?
2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?
3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

As usual, chime in below.

1. Who will start for Liverpool?

Johnson Carragher Skrtel Agger
Gerrard Poulsen
Pacheco Kuyt Jovanovic

---The injuries that kept Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard, and Fernando Torres out of the squad that traveled to Trabzon were never going to be enough to keep them out of this weekend's match, so I fully expect to see all three return tomorrow.

---Milan Jovanovic will likely be back in the squad---I never read anything about an injury to him, but he had featured in every match of the season until Thursday, and that had to factor into the decision to leave him out.

---A midfield of Lucas and Christian Poulsen isn't needed against West Brom, who will likely try to make it difficult for Liverpool to break through. They won't be Stoke City, but I can't imagine they're going to play a completely wide-open style. Gerrard to drop back, slide Kuyt in off Torres, and put Pacheco on the wing.

2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?

Scoring goals. Two has been the ceiling for Liverpool this season---they notched two in each match of the Rabotnicki tie, one against Arsenal, one at Anfield against Trabzonspor, none at the Eastlands, and two in Trabzon. That's not terrible, but it's not going to overwhelm anyone, either.

Liverpool will likely have a chance to pour in a few tomorrow, and they'll have to take their chances when they're presented. This would be a fantastic day for Torres to get up and running---he's got pace and power that nobody in the West Brom back line can match, and if the service is there we'll surely see him get on the board.

3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

Typically I'm reserved with the predictions, but I'm going to say 3-0 Liverpool. I have to believe that they're going to be impressive at some point, and tomorrow's just as good a time as any.

Matchday thread up tomorrow morning---those of us stateside will be watching streams, as the match isn't show live on either Fox Soccer Channel. I'm sure we'll find a way.

Have a nice Saturday everyone.

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