While he has not been able to prevent West Brom’s relegation, Mbaye Diagne has been a big addition to the Baggies since signing from Galatasaray in January.
Liverpool face a trip to The Hawthorns today as they chase a top-four place. On paper, it should be an easy three points for the Reds.
But we all know how this season has gone, and nothing is guaranteed these days.
Jurgen Klopp looks set to stick with the central defensive partnership of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams. The pair would have not seen this coming at the start of the season, but here we are.
Again, they should be more than capable of dealing with an already-relegated side. Especially one with the third-worst attack in the league by goals scored.
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But Sam Allardyce’s men do pose a threat. Considering the attributes of Liverpool’s centre-backs, Diagne should be the biggest one.
Diagne will try to keep away from Phillips
Before we begin, Rhys Williams has done a remarkable job for Liverpool, all things considered. For a centre-back that has only recently turned 20, he is pretty decent.
But there is no denying that he has struggled physically at times this season.
We saw that against Manchester United in the FA Cup when he came up against Edinson Cavani. He fared better in the recent league game, but Liverpool still conceded two goals.
Williams still hasn’t grown into his body. He is incredibly tall but is yet to fill out. This means that he is, simply put, fairly slow and not the strongest physically.
That is why a game against the 6-foot-3-inch, near-14-stone Mbaye Diagne (per FBRef) will be a huge (literally and metaphorically) challenge to him.
Diagne managed to give Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof a torrid time of things when he played Manchester United. He will probably be licking his lips coming up against a 20-year-old inexperienced centre-half.
You can be sure that Big Sam will tell him to pull onto Williams and avoid Nat Phillips at all costs. Contrary to his teammate, Phillips loves the physical side of the game and he will relish the chance to mark a big target man.
Especially with the in-form Matheus Pereira breaking off of him, Williams will have his work cut out coping with the big Senegal striker.
Let’s hope that he uses his head and doesn’t engage in a physical duel that he will not win, similar to what Dejan Lovren did with Troy Deeney last season.
If Williams holds his own, Liverpool should win the game.