West Bromwich Albion 0
Not a performance to send shock waves through footballing world which perhaps could be put down to a tough weak and a very obstinate opposition who refused to do the expected thing and lie down and let us walk all over them!
And why should they? West Brom set us a test which in all fairness we had to work very hard to pass. Perhaps they were galvanised by the 6-0 drubbing they experienced on their last away game at Stamford Bridge? Whatever the case it was an unmemorable game to mark our 2000th win in league football.
Torres and Gerrard returned to the line up after being rested for the midweek Europa Cup game. The back four was the same as it was for the visit to Manchester City although presumably this will change as the signing of Paul Koncheski gets nearer, he was at the match today. With Mascherano gone Poulsen and Lucas filled in the holding role(s). Again will this change as we have signed Raul Meireles and there new rumours today about Lucas leaving before the window closes?
It was inauspicious start. True Torres looked lively and tested ex red Scott Carson in the West Brom goal with a fierce cross shot from the left. However West Brom had clearly come to give it a go with an effort from Fortune that tested Reina. Earlier James Morrison had failed to “Break On Through” with a long range effort. We were then lucky not to concede a penalty after Skrtel manhandled Olsen as we trying to deal with one of their free kicks. He same “offence was committed at the other end on Torres and again the referee was unimpressed when perhaps others might have pointed to the spot? West Brom continued to play positively when Morrison again had a chance however “The End” product was not enough to light West Brom’s fire.
Not an especially memorable half. We had enough possession but only had the Torres chance to show for it partly due to lack of creativity on our part but also a very stubborn defensive performance from the visitors. The second half didn’t really see much in the way of improvement. Unless you count Olsen’s back pass, which Carson wasn’t expecting and was grateful to see go it wide, we only had a Skrtel effort which just cleared the angle of cross bar and post to talk about.
Prior to this much had been made of our impotency in front of goal or perhaps it should be lack chances created? This game seemed to underline it all. Perhaps we needed a bit more width there were no real options and everything seemed to go through Gerrard or Torres. West Brom were quickly wise to the obviousness of it and were energetic and committed enough to get bodies in the way? However, it requires great application and concentration to pull this trick off for the full ninety minutes and finally, after over an hour of laboured and dogged persistence, the deadlock was broken.
Reina’s long throw was picked up by Kuyt who exchanged a one two with Torres. The Dutchmen advanced and then cut it back to Torres again on the edge of the area. His shot was hard and into the ground, it bounced twice before it crossed the line. So relief for us and for the Spaniard who has had an indifferent summer. Torres must be buoyed by this tangible sign that he making progress back to something akin to the player we want to him to be?
All that was left was for the referee to turn down appeals for a very convincing penalty after Jara had handled Torres’ shot. However he then capped an usually lenient performance by pulling aside James Morrison for his late tackle on Torres. Red was shown so West Brom player knew “When The Music’s Over”.
So not the greatest performance, West Brom made it hard and we also made it difficult for ourselves. However, perhaps at this stage the win was the most important thing? We are off up and running and when the everyone returns from international duty, hopefully injury free, HRH will know what and who he has at his disposal until January. After all the preseason upheaval that must be a calming and reassuring thought?
Onwards and upwards but on todays evidence it could take some time?
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Lucas, Poulsen, Torres (Babel 89), Jovanovic (Maxi 59), Kuyt Substitutes: Jones, Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Maxi, Spearing, Pacheco, Babel
West Brom: Carson, Olsson, Shorey, Tamas, Jara, Morrison, Brunt, Dorrans (Tchoyi 75), Mulumbu, Odemwingie, Fortune (Wood 82) Substitutes: Myhill, Pablo, Tchoyi, Barnes, Reid, Wood, Cox