Liverpool ready to bounce back against Baggies
The mood at Liverpool is an optimistic one despite the frustration of Monday’s goalless draw at home to Manchester United, as Jurgen Klopp’s injury list shortens.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s influence was missed against United as he recovered from a hip injury sustained on World Cup duty with the Netherlands, but the midfielder is back in training and ready to play against West Brom at Anfield on Saturday.
Fellow midfielder Adam Lallana, who played half-an-hour as a substitute on Monday, has fully recovered from a groin problem and should be able to play a fuller part this weekend.
Liverpool had won five successive matches in all competitions before the draw against Jose Mourinho’s side, remain well-placed going into the weekend, sitting fourth in the Premier League, two points behind faltering leaders Manchester City.
The return of Wijnaldum and Lallana, who have both made impressive starts to the season, has given Liverpool a significant lift.
“He’s a very good footballer, very important for us,” said Liverpool manager Klopp of Lallana. “Since I’ve been here, he’s on a constant high level.
“When he was very young, he was already captain of Southampton, so that says a lot about him. He’s a smart boy and now at an age where experience helps you more and more if you are smart enough. That’s what he uses. He’s a real Liverpool player, loves this club.
“Obviously Southampton still miss him. A lot of players left Southampton in the last few years but with Adam they are still not happy that he is not there any more.
“That says a lot about his quality and influence he had already at Southampton. Now he’s here and I am really happy about this fact.”
The German also insisted he was happy with his goalkeeper, despite criticism of Loris Karius since he displaced the inconsistent Simon Mignolet.
Karius had one nervous moment on Monday when he got into a mix-up with team-mate Dejan Lovren, but did come out of the match with his first Premier League clean sheet at the third attempt.
“He has made a very good start, that’s how it is,” said Klopp. “We watched him for a long time and especially in the last two years in the Bundesliga, he was outstanding. But he is still a young boy, for a goalkeeper especially.
“So, of course, he has to improve and can improve, but with the start I feel quite comfortable and everything is good.”
For West Brom, Saido Berahino is again the centre of attention despite having not played for the club since September 10.
The young striker appears certain to be a substitute at best at Anfield after it emerged he has been placed on a personal fitness programme.
Berahino, who was adjudged to be overweight by West Brom boss Tony Pulis, has lost his place as the club’s leading striker to Salomon Rondon, who has formed an impressive partnership with pre-season signing and new ‘No.10’ Nacer Chadli.
“I can’t sing his praises enough, he’s a top player,” said West Brom winger Matt Phillips. “If you provide him with service, he’s going to score. I didn’t realise how good he was until I came here.”