West Brom host Liverpool at the Hawthorns for the first of just two Premier League games being played today. The game is set to get underway at 12:30pm. West Brom are bottom of the table, while Liverpool are third.
West Brom haven’t actually been relegated yet, but they’ve been gone for quite some time now. Mathematically, it’s still possible for them to stay up, as they’re nine points from safety with four games to go, but there’s no way they’re going to go and win all of their games and stay up. They’re planning for next season now, and are really just playing for pride at this stage. They could actually be relegated this weekend if they’re beaten and Swansea take anything from their game with Man City tomorrow. But they’ll likely hang on for one more week.
They have been shocking all season, and there’s no way anybody could make a case for them staying up. They just have to hope they can bounce straight back up from the Championship next season, but that’s going to be incredibly hard for them to do as the Championship is such a difficult league. They’ll also likely lose a few of their players, while it will be hard to attract top quality players now as well. When you’re a Championship side, you usually buy Championship quality players (unless you’re Wolves, of course). They’ll hope to hang onto a couple of players, but there’s probably a few they’ll be happy to see the back of anyway as they haven’t been too bothered this season.
It’ll be sad to see them go after quite a few years in the Premier League, but we’ll see if they can manage to turn things around. They’ve had two of the most disliked managers in football this season in Pulis and Pardew, and things haven’t worked out at all. But Darren Moore seems to be really liked and respected, and he rallied his players last week as they went to Old Trafford and beat Man Utd.
Darren Moore told West Brom’s official website: “It’s been great and I’ve received support from everyone here at the football club. It fills me with great joy that everyone has pulled together to move forward and they continue to do that.
“With regards to the role and the job, somebody has to sit in this seat, it happens to be me. I’ll always continue to take it one game at a time – that is what the club has asked me to do.
“I know people will continue to ask and I know you have to keep asking the questions but I really will, from the bottom of my heart, only be focusing on one game at a time – it really is just that.
“All my energy is on the next game. All I want us to do as a club is continue to support each other and work hard for each other. We need to keep that togetherness.
“By Saturday afternoon we’ll know how the game has gone. It’s important we put all our energy and efforts into the game, all those ‘what ifs?’ and everything else we can’t determine now.
“It will be a tough game as Liverpool are a good team. We know that we will have to be at our very best to get a result because they are an excellent team.”
Daniel Sturridge is ineligible against his parent club, but Jonny Evans and Hal Robson-Kanu are available.
It’s all about Champions League preparation now for Liverpool. They play Roma at Anfield on Tuesday, and surely Klopp will have more than one eye on that. He’ll know he can rotate and his side should still have far too much for the Baggies today. They should win this one comfortably, even if he does leave the likes of Salah and Firmino out. These players need game time as well though, as you don’t want them being rusty for Tuesday.
Salah will also want to play the game as he attempts to finish ahead of Harry Kane in the goalscoring charts and win the Golden Boot. I think you could give him 20 minutes at the end though, and let him try to nick a goal. As a tired defender, the last thing you want is Mo Salah running at you, and that may just be the best option. We’ll wait and see what happens though, he may start and come off with 20 minutes to go instead. They haven’t played since last week anyway, so it’s not like they’ve had a midweek game and would be knackered from that.
Liverpool are attempting to finish above Man Utd as well, and a win today would move them to within one point of their biggest rivals. They will have played a game more than United then though, with them not being in Premier League action this weekend as they play Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final. The difference between finishing second and third isn’t that big anyway, and it doesn’t really matter, but you always want to finish up as high as you can and above your rivals. They have the top four wrapped up anyway, as they’re seven points clear of Chelsea with just four games to play.
Jurgen Klopp said: “West Brom want to show that they believe in that little last chance, and we need to be at our best.
“We lost [to West Brom] in the FA Cup, I don’t have to remind anyone of that! Then, after the game, we think about Rome.”
Liverpool will be without Joel Matip, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Nathaniel Clyne. Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren have trained though, so could be involved.
I think Liverpool should win this one comfortably, but these sides have met twice already this season and the Reds are without a win. They drew 0-0 at Anfield in their Premier League tie, while the Baggies knocked them out of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win, also at Anfield. I think that could change today though, and Liverpool will get the win. We’ll see how it goes though, and maybe Darren Moore will be able to get the best out of his players again and they’ll manage another win.
I would usually say the team news will be up here at 11:30am and you can follow the game with me on Twitter and all that stuff, but some of that won’t be possible today. I’m off to the vet with my dog now, as he had a sore on his leg, and I’ll have to see how that goes before anything else. I may be watching the game, but I’m not really sure.
Anyway, enjoy it if you’re watching.