Liverpool are rapidly closing in on a top-four finish and a potential Champions League return although it is as much through other sides’ shortcomings than their own efforts.
Jurgen Klopp stated this week that his side must finish in the top four in order for the season to be deemed any kind of success and, at odds of 20/23, they are expected to take another step along that path with victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns on Sunday.
Liverpool have taken 11 points from the previous 15 on offer, with a run of three wins and two draws from five games.
The troubles of their would-be top-four rivals means that run has actually strengthened Liverpool’s claims. Manchester City (six points), Manchester United (nine) and Arsenal (four) have all conceded ground to Liverpool over the last five games.
Sunday’s trip to the Midlands might see more generosity for the Reds. Last weekend’s home defeat against Southampton was an effort not routinely associated with a Tony Pulis-led team. Albion simply had the look of a team already in ‘summer holiday’ mode.
Their Premier League safety is secured and they have lost four times in six games, with the only win in that run coming against Arsenal in mid-March.
Pulis will take some solace in the fact that four of the last six Premier League meetings between these sides have ended in stalemate. The draw on Sunday is priced at 13/5.
That stat doesn’t mask the fact that his side were bang out of form a week ago and they have failed to score in five of their last six games.
If West Brom play at a similar level to their first-half showing against Southampton last time out then Liverpool ought to win this game comfortably, making the visitors a tempting proposition at 7/4 to lead at half-time and win the game.
Philippe Coutinho will surely be restored to Liverpool’s starting side. The Brazilian was benched at Stoke last week as the Reds laboured and found themselves behind at the break.
The mercurial playmaker, who came on and scored, is likely to see plenty of possession against West Brom.
In all probability the home side will be eager to frustrate Liverpool so Coutinho’s long-range shooting ability could prove invaluable in breaking the deadlock and he seems decent value at 23/4 to score the first goal.
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