Back on the right track

Preview, Match report and player-by-player analysis by Robbie Amins at talklfc

The last time these two teams met, the away side went on a rampage. Six goals to nil - to be exact. And all six scored by the then strikeforce of Milan Baros and a player who's departed for sunny Spain.

Liverpool fans will be hoping for a repeat of that performance especially after the defeat at the Reebok two weeks ago.

Baros has scored three goals in two appearances against West Brom. And he will want to add to his record against the Baggies tomorrow. Djibril Cisse is expected to partner his Czech mate despite only arriving back from the Faroe Islands on Friday afternoon.

Xabi Alonso will be working hard to forget the error he made in mid-week on international duty. It will be his and Luis Garcia's home debut and the duo are desperate to show what they are made of to the home crowd.

Garcia tried some tricks and flicks and his goal against Bolton was wrongly disallowed as Alonso displayed his passing ability and vision. Positive points to be taken out of the defeat surely.

Didi Hamann is expected to be on the bench as Alonso and Gerrard are likely to be paired in the middle of the park by Rafa Benitez.

Harry Kewell will return to the starting line-up at the expense of his able deputy Stephen Warnock after recovering from a calf injury.

The Anfield outfit's defence will have to nullify the threat of WBA's new signing Robert Earnshaw, the in-form Kanu and Zoltan Gera.

Earnshaw is regarded as one of the best strikers outside the top flight and he is tipped to start alongside Kanu who has brought Arsenal's flair with him to the Albion side. Hungary skipper Gera has adapted well to the Premiership and looks a very good player.

Reds' Injury update:-

Chris Kirkland - The match may have come too early for him.
Vladimir Smicer - Long-term absentee.
Antonio Nunez - Doing running work and may feature in a Reserves match next week.
Jamie Carragher - Doubtful for the match with a foot injury but is expected to pass a late fitness test.

Probable Line-up:-

------------ Dudek -------------

Josemi - Carra - Hyypia - Riise

Garcia - Gerrard Alonso - Kewell

-------- Baros -- Cisse ---------

Match Report

There will be smiles on the faces of the Liverpool fans today after they returned to winning ways and beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at Anfield yesterday. It was a win done in style with quick passing on the ground and great movement off the ball.

Maybe...just maybe the only unhappy Liverpool fans would be those who had Xabi Alonso and Milan Baros in their fantasy football league teams. Rafa Benitez sprung a selection surprise as nobody expected Alonso to be on the bench and many thought if a striker was not going to be in the first XI, it would have been Cisse after his late return to England. The surprise element was complete when Ireland international Steve Finnan returned to the right wing.

Propelled by Steven Gerrard, the Reds left West Brom still searching for their first victory of the season and secured their second home win of the campaign. Gerrard scored the opening goal and sent Luis Garcia on his way for the third before leaving the pitch to a thunderous ovation after 65 minutes.

It was indeed a very good goal for Liverpool and for Steven Gerrard. Good passing led to Stevie G receiving the ball about 35-40 yards away from goal. He spotted and found Luis Garcia lurking outside the penalty box, continued his run and got the ball back from the little Spaniard. He seemed to have lost control of the ball at the final moment but he stretched and swung his left foot to score his 4th goal of the season.

The lead could have been doubled twice within a minute shortly afterwards. First Neil Clement's misjudged header forced Jonathan Greening to clear from the line, and from the resulting corner (again from Gerrard) Sami Hyypia, unmarked in the box, headed straight at a relieved Russell Hoult.

With Baros only a substitute, Garcia was pushed forward to play just behind Cisse, and his movement encouraged Liverpool to shift the ball around quickly and accurately.

The second goal that was on the cards arrived three minutes before the interval when Steve Finnan controlled a long ball from John-Arne Riise, wentpast one defender, fooled a second and finished off the move cooly like an accomplished striker.

Garcia headed embarassingly wide when Gerrard found him alone in the six-yard box but he did not let the miss get to him. If anything, it might have spurred him to try harder to score.

Yet another incisive pass from Gerrard invited Garcia to cut in from the left. At an angle which was almost impossible to score from, the former Barca ace unleashed a venomous shot. Hoult stopped the shot, but the little Spaniard was alert enough to fire the rebound firmly below the goalkeeper's body and into the net.

Job well done...Champions League action up next.

Match details:-

Liverpool: Dudek, Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Finnan, Hamann, Gerrard (Alonso 65), Kewell (Baros 68), Cisse, Luis Garcia (Traore 74).
Subs Not Used: Diao, Luzi.

Goals: Gerrard 16, Finnan 42, Luis Garcia 60.

West Brom: Hoult, Scimeca, Purse, Albrechtsen, Robinson, Haas (Gera 66), Koumas, Clement, Greening, Horsfield (Earnshaw 53), Kanu.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Dobie, Contra.

Att: 42,947
Ref: Steve Dunn (Gloucestershire).


Player-by-player analysis

Liverpool got themselves back on the right track in the Premiership race with a comfortable 3-0 victory over West Brom at Anfield.

They were always in control and sealed their second home victory of the season with goals from Stevie Gerrard, Steve Finnan and Luis Garcia.

The defeat leaves Albion still searching for their first Premiership victory following promotion last season to increase the pressure on their manager Gary Megson.

Jerzy Dudek
Jason Koumas and Neil Clement's attempts on goal from distance were probably West Brom's only threat on the Liverpool goal. Dudek had a pretty easy afternoon but he did well when called into action. He was sometimes guilty of lapping it up for the cameras. When maybe a simple parry would suffice, he launched himself into a flying save. But who cares about that if he keeps a clean sheet everytime?

Jose Miguel Rey
Josemi again showed why he has adapted to the Premiership like a fish to water. His natural agression, commitment, hard-tackling and good positiong will ensure that he will be one of the fan's favourites for many years to come. Those wearing black and white and entered his territory were never given time to settle on the ball by the Spaniard.

Jamie Carragher
Carra as usual carried out his duties without fuss. Many of Kanu's attempts at flicks and tricks didn't come off and credit has to be given to Liverpool's current longest serving player.

Sami Hyypia
He really should have scored in the first half when from a superb outswinging corner from Steven Gerrard, he headed straight to the goalkeeper Russell Hoult. But his priority is to make sure that Liverpool defended well and the vice-skipper certainly contributed to the cleansheet.

John Arne-Riise
Riise played as a left winger in the final stages of the match and he saw a fierce drive thud into the side-netting from from 20 yards. The Norwegian has been in fine form so far this season. He has improved on the defensive side of his game and he is always a threat when on the overlap or when he is given a sight of goal. It was a superb long pass that led to Liverpool's second goal just before half-time.

Steve Finnan
Many were surprised to see him in the starting line-up. In fact, the man himself might have been shocked to see his name in the teamsheet. And he repaid the faith shown in him by Rafa Benitez by scoring the goal that killed off West Brom's challenge. It was very good technique to control Riise's pass before he won a physical duel with Paul Robinson on the right before cutting inside and beating Hoult at the near post to bag his first ever Liverpool goal.

Dietmar Hamann
Hamann was expected to sit out this match. But he was a lot fresher than many of the other players as he was not involved in international football in the last two weeks. And to be fair, he has not done much wrong this season. Didi's presence in the Liverpool midfield gave Gerrard the license to inflict damage on the West Brom's defence and there were times that he joined in the attack.

Steven Gerrard
The skipper carried Liverpool through much of last season almost single handedly and he continues to accept the responsibility of plugging the gaps and chasing lost causes, as well as providing the sublime and the inspirational as shown in this match. Gerrard's goal provided Liverpool with the breakthrough that they needed and his passing and delivery of the ball were yet again top-class. He was given a standing ovation after coming off about 25 minutes from the end for a well-deserved (and much needed) rest.

Harry Kewell
Back in the starting eleven after missing the last match because of a calf injury. Kewell showed he still had it in him and yesterday's performance was an improvement in recent weeks. Maybe Luis Garcia's ability to play at left mid and the emergence of Stephen Warnock may have jolted him into action but it remains to be seen whether he can consistently produce the goods.

Luis Garcia
Had the Spaniard's finishing been the equal of his excellent approach play he might have had a hat-trick. He somehow headed wide from Gerrard's cross when it looked easier to test Hoult in the WBA goal. And he wasted another good chance in the second half, shooting wildly after a jinking run when a simple pass to Gerrard (who was alone in acres of space) might have been a better idea. But credit to him, he never gave up and he was rewarded with his first Liverpool goal.

Djibril Cisse
He reported back to Melwood later than the rest but it may have meant that he got more rest in the Faroe Islands. The Liverpool No.9 could have rounded off a very good team performance by the Reds with a goal but luck wasn't on his side. Cisse saw an angled shot and a close-range header both saved by Hoult in the dying minutes and then another angled effort just wide of the farpost from Didi Hamann's pass.

Xabi Alonso
He came on in place of the skipper and his passing and distribution were excellent. He will definitely be a mainstay in the Reds' midfield for many years to come but this season might well be a settling-in period for him and the other Spaniards who have arrived at Anfield.

Djimi Traore
He was again preferred to Stephane Henchoz on the bench. Came on for Kewell and played at left-back. Didn't do much wrong and the much-maligned Frenchman might have a role as a useful squad player for Liverpool.

Milan Baros
Many thought he will partner Cisse and start upfront for the Reds in this match. But maybe Benitez realised he had a tough workout in midweek for the Czech Republic against Holland and wanted to conserve his energy for the more important matches lying ahead. It bodes well for the future when he created an opening for Cisse in the last few minutes of the game with a very good through pass when he was under no pressure to do so and could have attempted a shot.

Man of the match:- Steven Gerrard (for obvious reasons)

Rafael Benitez
The gaffer was a very happy man after the match after witnessing his Liverpool side sweep aside The Baggies with a convincing display of swift passing and intelligent movement. Considering that Rafa has been forced to work with just four players since the defeat at Bolton with the majority of his squad away on international duty, this was an impressive return to winning ways for the Reds. He did not stand as much as he did in the past few matches and he looked more relaxed. Maybe he was confident that his team would carry out his instructions. And they did.

Article links

  • 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion


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