West Brom – Liverpool Preview: Pepe Mel seeking maiden win against in-form Reds

Pepe Mel goes in search of his first win as West Brom head coach when his side host in-form Liverpool on Sunday.

The Spaniard has overseen a 1-1 home draw with Everton and a disappointing 4-3 defeat at neighbours Aston Villa since being appointed as Steve Clarke’s successor on January 10.

Wednesday’s loss at Villa Park came despite West Brom racing into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

And any repeat of such fragile defending is likely to be punished by Liverpool, who are the Premier League’s second-top scorers with 57 goals from 23 games so far this season.

Four of those goals came as Brendan Rodgers’ side recorded a convincing 4-0 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton on Tuesday, which gave them a three-point cushion over Tottenham in the race for fourth place.

Luis Suarez was again on target in that game, scoring his 23rd goal in just his 18th Premier League appearance of the season, while Daniel Sturridge notched twice to take his tally to five in four matches since returning from an ankle injury.

Suarez and Sturridge have established themselves as the Premier League’s most prolific strikeforce this season, accounting for 36 of Liverpool’s 57 strikes.

And West Brom will need to contain the pair better than they did at Anfield in October if they are to take anything from Sunday’s match, with Suarez’s hat-trick and a sublime Sturridge lob inspiring Liverpool to a 4-1 win on that occasion.

Rodgers’ team head to The Hawthorns with five wins and a draw from their six games in all competitions in 2014 – form that is in stark contrast to West Brom, who are winless in four after their 1-0 victory over Newcastle United on New Year’s Day.

Injury-hit Liverpool are set to be boosted by the return of Joe Allen from an abductor problem, although Glen Johnson (various injuries), Mamadou Sakho (hamstring), Daniel Agger (calf), as well as Lucas Leiva and Jose Enrique (both knee), remain sidelined.

West Brom, meanwhile, will be without former Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka, who suffered a gashed knee at Villa, and Stephane Sessegnon (groin). They did, however, sign Espanyol’s France Under-21 striker Thievy Bifouma on loan until the end of the season on Friday.

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