Weblog: The football punter

Slick Liverpool could leave Albion feeling sick

FA Cup fourth round
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Saturday

Illness has swept through the West Brom camp this week and an FA Cup fourth-round trip to Anfield is unlikely to aid their recovery as Liverpool look to respond quickly from their Swansea shock.

The Reds were beaten 1-0 on Monday  and that may well deter many from going in again at short prices, although Liverpool still created enough chances to have escaped the Liberty Stadium with maximum points and the FA Cup seems to be a priority for the trophy-hunting Jurgen Klopp.

A strong side was selected in the last round - a 2-1 Merseyside derby triumph over Everton - and a game with goals could be the best way of supporting Liverpool once more.

Klopp's side have won 19 times in all competitions this term and 18 of those finished with at least three goals, so if Liverpool are to progress through to round five it would seem logical to expect a high-scoring tie.

Danny Ings is being tipped to start which means one member of the front three could be benched but as long as two of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are involved there should be enough firepower in the ranks to leave the Baggies dizzy.

Despite not scoring at Swansea Liverpool's expected goals was around the two mark, a respectable figure, although admittedly one that would have been pushed up as the Reds were made to press forwards and the hosts defended for their lives.

They are full of attacking intent and Albion may lack the defensive discipline to shut them out as successfully as Alan Pardew's men managed in a 0-0 draw at Anfield last month.

"The pressure is off us to maybe open up the game a little bit," said Pardew in reference to West Brom's main battle for the season, which is to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

A replay would be better than elimination but not by enough to employ similar tactics, particularly as Pardew has been keen to make West Brom a more positive team since replacing Tony Pulis.

Albion have scored in seven of their eight games since the Anfield stalemate and forced 37 shots on target.

Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez are being used closer together which is helping to sustain attacks and from set-piece situations West Brom still possess the kind of height so loved by Pulis that could take advantage of any vulnerability in the home defence.

However, the last three visiting teams to Anfield all scored and still lost. The most recent of those, Manchester City, were 4-1 down before a couple of late goals brought some respectability to the defeat.

Liverpool to win & over 2.5 goals

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Match in Focus

11:35 Th 22Mar BBC1

China v Wales

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • China failed to win both of their 2017 China Cup games
Expert verdict
Ryan Giggs takes charge for the first time as Wales manager when they face the hosts in the China Cup and the Manchester United legend will be delighted to have the services of talisman Gareth Bale. His presence is a huge boost for Giggs in his bid to get off to a winning start and his team should be able to secure a victory.