LIVERPOOL host West Brom on Sunday afternoon. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Liverpool vs West Brom | Sunday 27th December 2020, 16:30 | Sky Sports
Quick trivia question before we get underway…
Who was the last visiting manager to leave Anfield with three Premier League points? That would be Sam Allardyce some 66 games ago back in 2017 when in charge of Crystal Palace! A side who coincidentally, after a 7-0 home mauling, were the latest victims of Jurgen Klopp's side who moved four points clear at the top of the table as a result of their largest victory in the top tier.
It would be some upset if Big Sam could repeat the trick in his second game as the Baggies boss, as his new side are yet to taste victory on their travels this season whereas the Reds have won every single home league game this season.
The aforementioned run of 66 games has seen an astonishing 55 wins (D11, L0), scoring 175 goals (2.65 per game) while conceding just 43 (0.65 per game) so an average winning margin of exactly two, however that rises to 2.54 when winning all of their last 13 Anfield encounters with newly promoted sides.
I like the look of the hosts winning and covering that handicap of –2.5 again in this one despite West Brom being competitive in all bar one of their seven, even though a 1-1 draw in Slavan Bilic’s last game in charge at Manchester City should provide a confidence shot, a visit to the league leaders clearly in goalscoring form is a different task. Playing the Asian Handicap for slightly better odds of 19/17 (as opposed to 11/10) with SBK.
One thing we should definitely expect from the visitors is to be well drilled, competitive and aggressive. West Brom have seen three players dismissed so far this season with two red cards in the last four games including one for Jake Livermore in Allardyce’s first game in charge last week.
In his absence I expect more reliance on the tough tackling of Conor Gallagher in an attempt to close off the supply line to Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and co. The 20-year-old has impressed in his Premier League breakthrough season amassing 32 tackles from 10 appearances, 17 of which have been in away games.
We should see him overworked in this one with his side averaging 43.3% of the ball on road trips with the hosts only behind Manchester City with a home average of 60.4% – in that aforementioned 1-1 draw Pep Guardiola’s side had 77% possession and it is safe to assume a similar pattern to the game here at Anfield.
The Epsom-born midfielder has committed 17 fouls across those 10 league appearances which isn't a particularly high amount but has received four cautions including in that game at The Etihad where he only gave up one foul – so we don’t need to see constant infringements from him to get in the referee’s notebook.
In fact, three of those four yellow cards were for his only foul in games at City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United – the other coming at Fulham where he conceded five fouls.
Referee Kevin Friend isn't the most card happy official, we certainly could have had better appointments, with just 17 yellow and two red cards from his seven EPL appearances so far this season but given the trend in Gallagher’s bookings and from a low foul count hinting that the man in charge was left with little option than to take his name I am prepared to take a chance on him being shown a card in this clash.
Best odds are with Sporting Index at a tasty looking 15/4 – for those wanting extra spice/a long shot Gallagher is 50/1 with Sky Bet or William Hill to be shown the first red card of his career – it’s as low as 22/1 elsewhere.
Liverpool vs West Brom – Liverpool –2.5 Asian Handicap (19/17 SBK)
Liverpool vs West Brom – Conor Gallagher to be shown a card (15/4 Sporting Index)