Mane’s return after 66-hour turnaround? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. West Brom

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Liverpool will have enjoyed less than a 66-hour break following on from their win at Old Trafford and Jurgen Klopp could be tempted to make a tweak or two.

It’s a busy and pressurised finish to the season for the Reds with top-four now back on the cards after two back-to-back wins and results elsewhere falling in Liverpool’s favour.

Ending the 2,615-day wait for victory on Man United‘s home soil will act as a welcome boost and ensure any lingering aches and pains will not be felt as deeply.

The phrase “three finals” has readily been uttered by Reds in recent days and the first of those comes against a Sam Allardyce side already having sealed their relegation fate.

For Klopp, however, that means the Baggies will have “good feelings to express yourself and just play football” and it is something Liverpool will need to be wary of.

They were stung in the reverse fixture and Liverpool can ill afford another setback, and here’s how Klopp could set up his side in pursuit of all three points.

 

Team News

There are few changes from Thursday in respect of team news, with Ozan Kabak, James Milner and Naby Keita all remaining unavailable for the fixture.

It leaves few options to make a handful of changes, but Curtis Jones will be putting his hand up for selection after appearances off the bench in the last three.

And Sadio Mane will similarly be hoping to force Klopp’s hand despite giving the manager a cold shoulder after being benched at Old Trafford, which has since repeatedly been played down.

Regarding options off the bench, the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi are to be available once more while Ben Woodburn could be named in the matchday squad for the third game in succession.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. West Brom

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson (left), Rhys Williams (centre) and Nathaniel Phillips celebrate after the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Thursday May 13, 2021.

After sticking with the Phillips-Williams combination at Old Trafford against a pacey United outfit, it appears the duo have Klopp’s vote of confidence in the absence of Kabak.

With the pair settled in central defence for the third game running, it means Fabinho will continue to pull the strings in midfield in what could very well be an unchanged XI.

The timing between games may prove worrisome, but with Klopp having repeatedly stressed the need for rhythm and consistency, the good feeling can certainly be rolled into the Hawthorns.

It would see Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum hold onto their spots in the middle of the park, while Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will all be rewarded after finding the net.

Why change a winning formula that looks like this:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, R. Williams, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah, Jota, Firmino


In saying that, with another game at Burnley to follow three days after the trip to West Brom, there is certainly scope for two changes across two departments.

With the manager having shown a keen desire to keep his defence stable, the new faces would come in midfield and attack.

It would first see Jones handed his first start since the defeat to Chelsea at the start of March, where Wijnaldum would drop out to see the 20-year-old sit next to Fabinho and Thiago.

The second and final change would then see Mane make his return to the XI in place of Jota with the manager insisting he is “completely relaxed” about the post-match reaction from his No. 10:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, R. Williams, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Jones; Salah, Mane Firmino


There could also be a temptation to start all four forwards with a double-pivot in midfield, but with options limited off the bench the manager may hold off.

On paper, Liverpool should be too strong for the Baggies but this season they’ve been anything but convincing against teams at the bottom of the table. But that has to change against West Brom and the next two games to follow.

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