As was the case two years ago, Liverpool's run-in is now about pride and creating some sort of momentum to carry across the summer, with any chance at silverware gone and chances of a top four finish reliant solely on Manchester City continuing their poor form since the start of the new year. Having witnessed some excellent performances during that "meaningless" final month in 2013, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Liverpool to focus on what they can control rather than lamenting what could or should have been this season.
Which tomorrow means focusing on a West Brom side that should prove a challenge at home, especially under Tony Pulis. After beating Swansea, West Ham, Southampton, and Stoke City through February and March, however, they've dropped their last two at home, with losses to Leicester City and QPR on consecutive weekends to open the month of April. They rebounded well last time out, getting two goals away to Pulis' most recent former employer, Crystal Palace, in a 2-0 win.
Pulis will again be without first-choice goalkeeper Ben Foster and Craig Dawson, who came off injured against Palace and was replaced by Andre Wisdom. The Liverpool loanee will be ruled out tomorrow and is likely looking forward to the end of his loan spell, having found minutes few and far between since Pulis' arrival. At Selhurst Park, Pulis went with Boaz Myhill in goal, Dawson, Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley, and Chris Brunt across the back, Claudio Yacob, Darren Fletcher, James Morrison, and Craig Gardner in midfield, and Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino up top, with Jonas Olsson and Chris Baird featuring off the bench.
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno
Ibe Coutinho Sterling
Good news for Adam Lallana, who will be fit to make the squad for the first time since leaving at halftime of the 2-1 loss against Manchester United, but yesterday Brendan Rodgers ruled out each of Lucas, Mamadou Sakho, and Daniel Sturridge. The trio are the only confirmed absences heading into tomorrow's visit to the West Midlands, though one would expect the likes of Jon Flanagan and Jose Enrique to continue to miss out on the matchday squad as their rehab work continues.
It would be nice to see Rodgers continue to work on the team's shape while integrating something resembling a longer-term vision. With Lucas absent it's tempting to bring Steven Gerrard into the starting eleven, and the manager may very well do so, but if he's truly committed to building momentum toward next season, he will ensure that the captain's role is limited. Such a move might not be particularly pleasant, but the futures of Gerrard and Liverpool are no longer intertwined, and if Rodgers is invested in keeping his job, he needs to finish this campaign strong and start to prepare for next season. Steven Gerrard provides little in either regard.
A switch to four at the back with Javier Manquillo included would be a drastic measure, especially considering that the Atletico Madrid loanee hasn't featured in a match since the second leg of the Besiktas tie. But like Gerrard, there's no place for Glen Johnson in Liverpool's present or future, and it would be nice to see Manquillo feature on the opposite side from Alberto Moreno. Without Sakho, it will be one of Kolo Toure or Dejan Lovren alongside Martin Skrtel, unless Rodgers goes with three at the back and brings back Emre Can.
Right now seems to be the time to give Can minutes in the midfield, either in a deeper-lying role or further forward as a box-to-box threat. He appears to be more prepared for the latter than the former and the present time, and a midfield trio of Can, Joe Allen, and Jordan Henderson would promise plenty of energy, solidity, and urgency going forward.
With Raheem Sterling positioned centrally to little effect against Aston Villa, Rodgers could revert to Philippe Coutinho in the false nine role and Sterling running the channels from the wide areas. With Jordon Ibe, Lazar Markovic, and Adam Lallana available on the opposite flank, that would give Liverpool a pacy, powerful front six, and one that, at least in theory, represent a departure from last weekend's insipid display.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM BST/10:00AM EST on Saturday, with NBC Sports Premier League Extra Time airing the match in the US. Our coverage will continue with any breaking team news, team sheets when they’re released, and live coverage tomorrow including full viewing options and post-match reactions. If you haven’t already, sign up for an SB Nation account and join us for it.