Liverpool ended a three game winless run of Premier League matches with a hard-fought 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers responded to Liverpool’s poor early form this season by dropping Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic to the bench. Albion came into this game on the back of three successive victories; a stark contrast to their opponents who lost four of their last nine games in all competitions.
Once again though Liverpool failed to reproduce the fluid attacking play they displayed last season. Rickie Lambert was let down by this first touch far too often and failed to bring mobility to the Liverpool attack. There was a significant lack of movement beyond the West Brom backline while Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling were kept getting caught in possession. Saido Berarinho forced a saved from Simon Mignolet after a turnover in possession in the middle of the park while he should have atleast tested the Liverpool goalkeeper with a free header three minutes later. However, Liverpool unexpectedly (not undeservingly) took the lead on the stroke of half-time after a neat exchange of passes between Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson resulted in an opening inside the West Brom box which was expertly slotted in by Lallana for his first goal this season. West Brom restored parity in the second half thanks to a rather controversial penalty which was converted by Saido Berarinho. But Liverpool made sure of the three points in the 61st minute when man of the match Jordan Henderson rounded off a fine move with a side foot finish in the bottom left corner of Ben Foster’s goal.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers felt that the positional shift of Henderson paid dividends in this game. He explained in the post-match press conference, “”We flipped the midfield triangle about and played with Stevie controlling and Jordan just in advance of that,It gave him more licence to go into the corridor.”
“He’s the one player in the country that can really dominate a game without the ball due to his running capacity. He has great physicality in the game and today was about trying to get him forward that bit more and encouraging him to go [forward]. That forward run allows him to offer the combination with Adam for the first goal, and for the second goal he arrived in the box and finished really, really well.It was a big performance from him today.”
Rodgers hinted that Henderson might be asked to play further forward in the upcoming games as well.”His confidence level is very good,” the manager continued. “He is a player who has wonderful physical capacity to run. His size surprises a lot of people, he’s got great running ability. He’s got lovely technique on the ball.He’s playing in a part of the team’s structure where he understands his lines of pass and his role within the team. He knows his role is to create goals and score goals.”
“He’s a wonderful young man to work with and I was delighted for him because it’s something we’ve been encouraging him to do – to arrive into the box more. He did that for the two goals, combining on the edge of the box for the first and then getting his finish for the second.”
Rodgers had words of praise for Adam Lallana who capped off a fine display with his first goal for Liverpool in the first half.”It was a wonderful goal. I thought he was very, very good today and his intensity and work rate in the team was exceptional. He showed his quality. You saw the supporters’ reaction to him, I think they really appreciate what he is trying to give the team.”
“I’m delighted for him. He’s a wonderful, technically-gifted player and works very, very hard. He scored a wonderful goal, which is what we needed.”
Rodgers also had encouraging words for Rickie Lambert who went close on numerous occasions but could not find the back of the net.”Rickie is desperate to score for Liverpool,” said the Northern Irishman. “He’ll probably be disappointed with one or two of the opportunities he had today.But I know with Rickie that I have a real honest professional who wants to die for Liverpool. He wants to give everything he has for the club and there will be times this year when we’ll need that.”
“Rickie’s been working really well in training and he deserves his opportunity to play.”
Rodgers acknowledged the importance of the win but felt the overall performance was not satisfactory and expects an improvement over the coming weeks.”Performance-wise we’ve still got a way to go,” said Rodgers. “The speed of our game, the movement and the intensity in our game still needs developing and improving. But I’d rather have that now and then do what we’ve done over the last two seasons – get better and better as the season goes on. But whilst you’re searching for that, it’s important you find a way to win.
“There’s a lot of young players here and new players who have come in who are still finding out about working at a big club.What you have to do is find a way to win and today we did that. That was against a team who came to here with big confidence having won 4-0 comfortably last week and winning 1-0 in their last away game at Tottenham.”
“This group is very honest and these players are full of character. That’s what gives me hope as a manager – even though we’re in a moment where we’re not at our footballing best yet, but I know the character and depth of honesty in this team. As we work more together, the quality in our game and the performance will improve.”
This victory was Liverpool’s first in the Premier League since their 3-0 away win at the White Hart Lane in late August.