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Premier League

  • 18 August 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 26039
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West Brom - Liverpool Preview: Clarke welcomes former club on opening day

West Brom - Liverpool Preview: Clarke welcomes former club on opening day

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Both sides head into the season under new management, with former Reds' assistant Steve Clarke now in charge at the Hawthorns, while Brendan Rodgers is at the Reds helm

  PROBABLE LINEUPS


WEST BROM


Foster
Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell
Mulumbu, Jacub
Odemwingie, Dorrans, Brunt

Lukaku

LIVERPOOL

Reina
Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
Gerrard, Lucas, Allen
Suarez,
Borini, Downing


After joining West Brom on a permanent basis Ben Foster should start the match in goal, while summer loan signings Lukaku and Yassine El Ghanassy could both feature with the former in line to start up front. Another summer signing Claudio Jacub could slot in along side Youssouf Mulumbu in defensive midfield, leaving James Morrison and Graham Dorrans to compete for the central attacking midfield role.

The Baggies also signed Markus Rosenberg on a free transfer but he probably won't be thrown in to the fray from the off with Lukaku the more attractive option as a loan striker. Peter Odemwingie may play wide right, with caption Chris Brunt on the left, leaving Steve Clarke with Shane Long and Marc-Antoine Fortune other forward possibilities.

With no major outgoings likely to occur, as well as no injury problems, Clarke has a full-strength squad to chose from and will be looking to settle into a regular line-up.

Liverpool, also starting the new Premier League season with a different manager to last term, Brendan Rodgers, are again likely to field their new faces. With Alberto Aquilani having left the club for Fiorentina, Joe Allen, signed from the new manager's former club Swansea, could play with Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva, who returns from long-term injury that kept him out of most of last season, in midfield. However the Welshman may be left on the bench after his Olympic exertions and Jonjo Shelvey, who impressed in pre-season, may be given the nod.

Elsewhere new striker Fabio Borini is likely to lead the line after it emerged Andy Carroll has fallen out of favour with the boss, and may yet leave Merseyside. Joe Cole, who will stay at the club after a loan spell in France with Lille last season, could play as part of a three-pronged attack if he recovers from a hamstring injury in time, with Luis Suarez manning the other flank, otherwise Stewart Downing should feature.

The Northern Irishman is rumoured to still be interested in adding to his squad, with Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin heavily linked, as well as Fulham's Clint Dempsey, but it seems if deals are done, they'll have to wait before making their debuts in red. One transfer that is close to completion is that for Heerenveen winger Oussama Assaidi, though he still may not be registered in time to play on Saturday.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • West Brom manager Steve Clarke was appointed as Liverpool's first-team coach by Kenny Dalglish when he took charge of the club in January 2011, days after former Baggies manager Roy Hodgson was sacked as Reds' boss. Clarke left his post when Dalglish was dismissed in May 2012.
  • The Midlands outfit lost their first three pre-season friendlies 1-0, but didn't lose in the six after, winning four, drawing two and scoring 13 goals
  • The Hawthorns played host to more goals scored in the first 15 minutes of matches than any other Premier League stadium last season (11).
  • The Baggies gave away the joint-highest number of penalties in the 2011-12 league season (9). While opposition forward Luis Suarez (pictured) won more spot-kicks than any other player (4).
  • Liverpool go into the game having won their last three fixtures, including two Europa League qualifiers against Gomel and their final pre-season game with Bayer Leverkusen.
  • However, in their three friendlies before that they failed to record a victory, drawing to Tottenham and Toronto while losing to Roma.
  • Rodger's side had the worst chance conversion rate of any teams last term, scoring from only 9% of attempts. However, they could be deemed unlucky as they also hit the woodwork 33 times, more than any team in the Premier League era analysed by Opta.
  • In last season's two Premier League meetings between the sides, Liverpool recorded a 2-0 victory at the Hawthorns in October, before West Brom won 1-0 at Anfield in April.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Ben FosterGoalkeeper
12Steven ReidDefender
3Jonas OlssonDefender
6Liam RidgewellDefender
23Gareth McAuleyDefender
5Claudio YacobMidfielder
7James MorrisonMidfielder
21Youssouf MulumbuMidfielder
22Zoltán GeraMidfielder
24Shane LongStriker
9Peter OdemwingieStriker
13B. MyhillGoalkeeper
36Gonzalo JaraDefender
25Craig DawsonDefender
11Chris BruntMidfielder
11Yassine El GhanassyStriker
17Romelu LukakuStriker
28Marc-Antoine FortuneStriker
25Pepe ReinaGoalkeeper
2Glen JohnsonDefender
5Daniel AggerDefender
34Martin KellyDefender
37Martin SkrtelDefender
8Steven GerrardMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
21Lucas LeivaMidfielder
24Joe AllenMidfielder
7Luis SuárezStriker
29Fabio BoriniStriker
1Bradley JonesGoalkeeper
23Jamie CarragherDefender
10Joe ColeMidfielder
14Jordan HendersonMidfielder
16Charlie AdamMidfielder
8Jonjo ShelveyMidfielder
9Andy CarrollStriker
Players to Watch
Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 17
Games Goals YC RC
2 0 0 0
The 19-year-old became increasingly frustrated with life at Chelsea last season after a lack of first-team chances, even refusing to accept a Champions League winners' medal because he didn't think he deserved it. Therefore, this season the Belgium international has a lot to prove, and after being granted a loan move to West Brom, has a platform to showcase his skills.

The big forward showed the strength, as well as skill, needed to succeed in the Premier League, at times looking like a similar player to that of Didier Drogba, when he did feature for the Blues last term. A good return this campaign with the Baggies and Lukaku could well find himself doing a Daniel Sturridge and slotting into the Chelsea first-team on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
At one stage in the summer it looked as if Liverpool's star man from last season may have left Anfield, but instead the Uruguayan signed a long-term deal and will be looking to treat the red half of Merseyside to more glittering displays over the next 38 Premier League games.

The Reds heavily depended on the 25-year-old last year, but under Rodgers the forward may well have a slightly different role. With Carroll seemingly out of the former Swansea manager's plans, Liverpool are likely to adopt the Northern Irishman's fluid style, which if anything should be a blessing for the tricky attacker.
Prediction
Liverpool fans should be treated to some pretty football under Rodgers this season, but the real issue is whether it will bring results. West Brom have enjoyed a good pre-season and have a number of players capable of upsetting Rodgers' men. However, as long as the Reds stay solid at the back, they should dominate possession and have too much attacking quality for the Baggies.
Editor's Prediction

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