An injury-time wonder goal from Phil Jagielka in the Merseyside derby served another blow to Liverpool’s stuttering start to the 2014/2015 campaign, with Brendan Rodgers admitting that there is much work ahead before they can be considered title contenders. The disappointment of coming so close to winning the Premier League last season continues to loom over Anfield, as Liverpool look a shadow of the free-scoring team that took everyone by surprise. Losing one of the best strikers in world football in the form of Luis Suarez has also taken its toll, with Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli yet to show they can fill the Uruguayan’s boots. Their defensive vulnerability, which arguably cost them the title, has yet to be addressed either, with new arrival Dejan Lovren failing to find his feet in Liverpool colours and Simon Mignolet coming under increasing pressure.
The upcoming home game against West Brom may provide Liverpool with an opportunity to kick-start their season and make amends for a poor start. An in-form Baggies side will fancy their chances of capitalising on the mounting pressure, with Alan Irvine finally making his mark in his first managerial role. Punters may back Liverpool to win in front of their own fans and shake off their early season blues, but it may not be easy against a confident West Brom side that will arrive at Anfield with nothing to lose.
Three games without a win is not the sort of start that Rodgers would have wished for, as his Liverpool side have failed to get going this season. While Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling had led from the front in midfield, the rest of their team-mates have yet to hit the high standards expected of players who pull on the shirt. A combination of misfiring strikers and defensive instability has culminated in disappointing defeats against Aston Villa and West Ham in games where Liverpool were second best. Rodgers could be boosted by the timely return to fitness of Sturridge who picked up a thigh injury whilst on international duty with England, while Glen Johnson could also return to face West Brom. Both players would make a big difference in areas where Liverpool require serious improvement, but victory against West Brom (1.34) could provide a much-needed confidence boost to build on.
Impressive victories against Tottenham and Burnley have come at a perfect time for West Brom who were beginning to show signs that they may be in for a long, hard season at the wrong end of the table. Irvine appears to be adapting to life as a football manager, with his team showing excellent qualities to deservedly win at White Hart Lane, and then follow it up with a four-goal demolition of struggling Burnley at the Hawthorns. In Saido Berahino, West Brom have one of the most promising English strikers, with the 21-year-old starting the season on fire with 4 goals in 6 games. His considerable pace and deadly eye for goal will provide a real test for Liverpool’s backline, and he could be joined upfront by record signing Brown Ideye if he recovers from injury in time. Chris Baird and Victor Anichebe could also return for the trip to Anfield, although Sebastian Pocognoli faces a race against time to shake off a knock picked up against Burnley. Andre Wisdom will be unable to show Rodgers how he has progressed in the Premier League, with the young defender unable to play due to the terms of his loan agreement. The Baggies are huge underdogs at 8.85 to secure a shock victory, but these are the sort of games which Liverpool struggle in.