West Brom v Liverpool (League Cup) Preview

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West Bromich Albion vs Liverpool
League Cup (Capitol One Cup) Third Round
Wednesday, 26th September 2012 (8pm kick off)

After the club’s worst League start statistically for over a decade, pressure is on for the next League game at Norwich – a team that has had an indifferent start to the campaign as well. Therefore, nothing less than a win is required on Saturday. Confidence breeds success, we all know this, and confidence can only come from a win, that’s why the game against Norwich is definitely the focal point of this week. It has to be.

That’s why I for one expect a team starting on Wednesday with mostly youngsters, who did well when called upon against Young Boys, and definitely rewarded their selection. The team I expect to start against WBA would be close to the one that started at Berne last week, with maybe one or two senior players included, like for instance Reina in place of Jones. The travel distance isn’t too high, contrarily to last Thursday, so it means we could also see several senior players on the bench for this one.

The team I would like to see on Wednesday is:

Reina; Wisdom, Coates, Skrtel, Enrique; Sahin, Henderson, Suso; Pacheco, Morgan, Assaidi.

While the forward line will inevitably be one of youngsters and hopefuls, especially after Borini’s injury, and the midfield picks itself (same as against YB), the most difficult spot is the defence. With Agger and Kelly out, Johnson will likely play on the right against Norwich, while Coates will hopefully replace Agger.

Central defenders can play every three days, especially early in the season, so I’d throw a solid partnership in, with Coates and Skrtel. This game will allow them to build up some understanding before the all-important game three days later.

While Enrique seems to be off-form, he surely needs playing time to regain it. As for Wisdom, his performance against YB deserves a further chance.

I’d also play Reina instead of Jones, who wasn’t very convincing at Berne.

The opposition:

West Brom have a very capable gaffer in Steve Clarke, whom we happen to know very well. He’s proving how good he is with the Baggies. Jose Mourinho couldn’t laud him enough when he was his assistant at Chelsea, so did Kenny, and I still struggle to understand why, if Kenny really had to be sacked, FSG didn’t consider replacing him from the inside, with this extremely capable man and tactician.

As expected, he has managed to immediately shore up WBA’s defence to one of the best in the league thus far, especially at home – where they are yet to concede. Their run since the beginning of the season has been the following:

3-0 win against us on the opening day
1-1 draw at Tottenham
2-0 win against Everton at home
0-3 loss at Fulham
1-0 win against Reading at home

As a result of this they find themselves in fourth spot, with ten points from five games. As they have had a good start, and certainly have some expectation for this cup competition, I expect them to come out with a near full-force team on Wednesday.

Key man to watch:

It’s not easy to find one stand-out performer in this team. As could be expected, Clarke is all about team-work and good tactical organisation, and that’s what you get from WBA. Six of the seven goals scored so far have all been scored by different players, which underlines this point.

However, if I had to chose one, I’d go for Youssuf Mulumbu, their 25-years old defensive midfielder, who has been the pillar of their midfield since a couple of seasons now (named club’s and fans’ player of the season at the end of the 2011/12 season). He’s the one who makes the midfield tick, and works hard in front of the defence.

Another one to watch is Romelu Lukaku (19), currently on loan from Chelsea, who is a powerfull, aggressive striker with much pace and seems to have a great future in football. He scored two goals already for WBA, and will be a dangerous threat on Wednesday. Due to his pace and power (when combined with Morrison) makes me think that Carragher must not be selected for this fixture.

Key head-to-head:

Key confrontation on a tactical level will surely be in midfield. If Suso is played ahead of Sahin and Henderson, like against YB, it will be interesting to see how he copes with Mulumbu’s hassling and physical presence, and how he still can create something.

Prediction:

I hate to make predictions, as I’m utterly bad at this exercise. I’m currently not inclined to much optimism regarding issues related with LFC, so it may influence how I see this pan out, but here we go: due to what has been said above, I expect us to lose this game 2-0, goals from Morrison and Odemwingie.

Obviously hoping that I’ve got it completely wrong (as said, there are big chances that I indeed am!). Any positive result from this one would be a big plus for the club, one we could all be delighted with. But the key focus has to be on next Saturday.

Words: Hope in Your Heart

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