By Scott Taylor
Neil Critchley’s Liverpool U18s will be hoping to make it five wins in a row when they travel to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow. After a slow start to the season, which saw them pick up three points from their opening three games, the Reds have recovered by winning four out of their last five games. However, West Brom will head into the game with some confidence restored, after their 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Liverpool are currently fifth in the U18 Premier League and a win tomorrow will see Critchley’s side rise as high as second, behind leaders Manchester City. They will face a West Brom team who have had an indifferent start to the season. After a win and a draw from the opening two games, the Baggies then struggled, picking up just one point from their next five matches. They sit in ninth, and a win for them could see them move up to sixth.
One of their problems this season is that Aaron Danks’ side have consistently conceded goals. In their opening eight games, they have conceded 15 goals and have kept a clean sheet just once this season. The Baggies do have a good record in front of goal however. Although they average just one goal a game, they have scored in seven of their eight games. The only time they have scored more than once, was in Saturday’s win at Blackburn. Rahis Nabi and Joanthan Leko are the club’s top scorers this season with two goals apiece.
West Brom will be without centre-back Danny Barbir for the game. The USA youth international will be in Chile ahead of the U17 World Cup, which starts on Saturday 17 October. Liverpool will be without three of their players due to the World Cup. Midfielders Jake Brimmer and Herbie Kane will be representing Australia and England respectively, whilst captain Trent Alexander-Arnold will also represent the Three Lions.
Alexander-Arnold will be a huge blow to Liverpool. The midfielder, who made his first team debut in August, is the U18s’ top scorer with five goals this season, including four goals in his last two games. With his absence, and the fact that Liam Coyle sent off in the 1-0 win against Stoke on Saturday, it gives an opportunity for the younger players such as Adam Lewis to thrive.
The dangerman for Liverpool tomorrow will be Ben Woodburn. The forward, 15, is the captain of the Wales U17 side and has provided six assists in his last three games. With Liverpool scoring 16 goals and West Brom conceding 15, it looks likely that the Reds will make it five wins in a row tomorrow.