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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Liverpool's defence are in for a difficult ride

Set-piece specialists Albion pose a huge threat

West Brom's Gareth McAuley
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports 1, 1.30pm

Analysis of bare statistics suggest Liverpool are looking good to book a place in next season's Champions League as a run of one defeat in their last eight games has put them right in the heart of the chase.

They have proved a match for anyone this season, as seven wins and five draws in their 12 games against the other members of the Premier League's top seven demonstrates.

However, there is no room for complacency - Manchester United are six points behind the Anfield outfit with two games in hand - and their trip to West Brom represents a potential stumbling block.

While results have been good, they have come at a price for Jurgen Klopp and his team will be depleted for their visit to the Hawthorns.

Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana, who could consider themselves to have been unlucky not to be included in the shortlist for the PFA player-of-the-year award, are missing through injury.

Skipper Jordan Henderson is also sidelined and while Klopp has the resources to fill the gaps, the Reds should be weakened by that trio's absence.

Despite Liverpool's fine recent record, their away results have not been great as the season heads towards its final month.

Their win at Stoke last week was their first success in six matches on their travels and while substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino scored the crucial goals, they would not have held on to the points without two point-blank saves from Simon Mignolet.

The Reds have kept just three clean sheets on the road in the league this season and this is a game where their defensive abilities could be heavily tested.

There are no relegation worries for the Baggies this year and they should be able to get the upper hand on Liverpool physically.

They will be a huge threat at set-pieces where Craig Dawson, Johnny Evans and Gareth McAuley will all require close attention and there should have been plenty of time spent on defending free kicks and corners at Liverpool's Melwood training ground this week.

Failure in that area could cost Liverpool points and with confidence gained from their recent 3-1 home win over Arsenal, West Brom can outbattle the Reds and land another notable scalp.

West Brom
1pt 18-5 Betfair

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Team news
West Brom
Albion should be at full strength although manager Tony Pulis hinted that some unnamed players are nursing bumps and bruises.

Midfielders Jordan Henderson (foot) and Adam Lallana (thigh) are not available. Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are expected to return to the starting line-up after coming on as half-time substitutes in last week's 2-1 win at Stoke. Sadio Mane is out for the rest of the campaign.

Key stat
West Brom have won eight of their last 11 Premier League home matches.

The Reds have kept just three clean sheets on the road in the league this season and their defensive abilities could be heavily tested
E.W. Terms
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