Christmas 2020 is here and Liverpool have two games to play. We predict how we think each will go as the Reds top the Premier League table.
Liverpool v West Brom
This one comes on Sunday and, really, we all expect a comfortable win. Maybe not ‘7-0’ comfortable but routine nonetheless.
West Brom aren’t having a good season, sitting 19th in the table. They have just one win from their 14 games, adding four draws.
Their away form is worse. From seven games, West Brom have two points. They’ve scored five in that time, conceding 14.
It’s difficult to see this as anything other than a simple Liverpool win. They’ve won every home game, after all.
Yes, Sam Allardyce is now in charge there. Yes, he’s the last manager to win at Anfield. But we can’t see Allardyce having such a big impact that he makes West Brom competitive here.
There is a ‘but’, however. Liverpool are huge favourites but we don’t expect the strongest team.
They play Newcastle three days later and resting players against West Brom creates an 11-day rest for certain stars. So while Liverpool will hardly put out the kids, they may use this as a rotation game.
Adding to that is the return to training of James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Thiago. This is an ideal game to give them all minutes, from the start or the bench.
Our prediction for this, then – a comfortable 3-0 win and a much-needed runout for certain players.
Newcastle United v Liverpool
This one is a little tougher to judge and that’s why we expect Liverpool to go quite strong.
Newcastle have a home record that actually matches Liverpool’s away record – both have 10 points from seven games.
Now, Liverpool have been unfortunate not to win more. They should have picked up wins against Everton and Brighton, certainly.
But that poor showing against Fulham worries us. It was effectively the opposite of the Crystal Palace display that followed two games later.
So we’ll bank on Jurgen Klopp going strong and making sure Liverpool compete at their best here. Will it be enough for Thiago to start? It depends on his fitness as we hope the Reds prioritise a later game for the Spaniard.
Still, Liverpool will surely go very strong at St. James’s and that should secure a win.
Our prediction for this one? A 3-1 away win.
What Klopp really wants
We don’t think the six points are the real desire here – they should be a near-given.
What Klopp will really want is a nice rotation of players who all come out of it in good shape. January will be a huge month, after all, with the start of the FA Cup and huge games against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The returning players offer a huge boost for all of that and getting them back fit as quickly as possible is the true priority for the Christmas 2020 games.
Fortunately, West Brom and Newcastle offer good opponents to do just that.