Liverpool will continue their push toward a European spot against West Bromwich Albion on Monday. The first Premier League meeting of the season between the clubs resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Baggies, a defeat the Reds are hoping to avenge.
The Reds are coming off back-to-back road draws with Arsenal and Manchester City, which should provide them with a boost of confidence as they return to Anfield. They have rebounded nicely after a shaky start under manager Brendan Rodgers.
West Brom's story is the complete opposite. They were one of the league's most surprising teams in the early going, but have faded recently. The Baggies' last win came in late December against QPR. They are winless in their last eight matches overall.
Liverpool hopes to stretch that streak to nine on Monday. Here's a look at all the important information for the EPL clash, followed by some players to watch and a prediction.
Where: Anfield in Liverpool, England
When: Monday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Liverpool Player to Watch: Steven Gerrard
One of the main issues for Liverpool in the early portion of the season was a lack of attacking depth. Luis Suarez was scoring at his usual elite pace, but the rest of the Reds failed to support him. Gerrard has stepped up to fill that void.
The longtime Liverpool midfielder has tallied five goals and seven assists in his last 10 league matches. When you pair his vastly improved production with the arrival of Daniel Sturridge it's easy to see why the Reds' offense is trending in a positive direction.
Liverpool have scored nine goals over their last three matches. They will need to maintain that type of former down the stretch in order to make a run toward a European, and potential Champions League, spot. They don't have much margin for error.
It starts with Gerrard gaining possession in the midfield and controlling the pace of the match. In doing so, he's proving how important he remains to the Reds.
West Brom Player to Watch: Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku failed to impress in his first season with Chelsea. In turn, the club decided to send him out on loan to West Brom, and it appears he's found his Premier League footing. The 19-year-old striker leads the Baggies with nine league goals.
The Belgium international certainly has the talent to succeed at the EPL level, but he never seemed to settle in with the Blues. Whether it was the pressure of the high-profile move or his limited role, he failed to standout.
Chelsea have to be impressed with what they've seen this season, though. Lukaku is playing with a lot more confidence while helping lead an otherwise lackluster West Brom attack. It's exactly the type of form the Blues were hoping for after acquiring him.
Lukaku must continue to play at a high level if he wants to make a major impact with Chelsea down the line. West Brom definitely need him to produce against the suddenly dangerous Reds.
Matchup to Watch: Luis Suarez vs. West Brom back line
Suarez didn't score in Liverpool's draw with Manchester City, bringing a three-match goal streak to an end for the dynamic striker. In all, he's scored nine goals in his last 10 appearances, maintaining the top form he's been in all season.
While the aforementioned Gerrard and Sturridge are both taking pressure of Suarez with strong play, the Reds' attack still revolves around him. If he were to go into an extended slump, the club would undoubtedly follow suit.
Fortunately for Liverpool, he's been able to avoid that so far. That means the Baggies' back line will have their hands full on Monday. The club's best chance of escaping Anfield with at least a point is shutting him down and hoping other Reds don't fill the scoring void.
That said, Liverpool should have enough firepower to pick up the victory. These are the matches where they can't afford to drop points.
Liverpool 2, West Brom 0