Liverpool put the misery of the last week behind them with a 3-0 victory over relegation candidates West Brom on a wet Anfield evening.
Robbie Keane scored twice to end his Premiership goalscoring hoodoo for Liverpool, and Fernando Torres made his return to Liverpool with a 20 minute run out. Arbeloa was the unlikely third scorer as the reds ensured they could bask in a Saturday evening top placed position.
In our match preview we highlighted our recent scores against West Brom, and today’s result continued in that vein.
Disappointingly Liverpool continued with the 4-5-1 formation although there was some slight twists in the formation. Steven Gerrard who insists playing in central midfield is his best position got his opportunity when he partnered Mascherano there. Alonso started the game on the bench.
Yossi Benayoun played on the right wing and Dirk Kuyt occupied Gerrard’s more advanced role.
The game started evenly with West Brom having a large chunk of possession which they could have used better. In contrasts to many teams they came at Anfield to play football and not defend like crazy – and they could have grabbed the first goal. As it they were undone twice in the first half by fantastic passes which Keane couldn’t fail to smash away.
First a Gerrard pass that completely disected the Baggies defence. Nine minutes later Fabio Aurelio was the supplied as a quick counter attack was once again punished by the Irishman.
West Brom came out second half with determination to get back in to the game and Liverpool were limited up front. With twenty minutes left to go Robbie Keane made way for Fernando Torres – a thunderous applause both for Keane’s two goals and for the return, after injury, of the Spaniard.
Torres looked like he had never been away, on two occasions skipping past the West Brom defence, and unfortunate to fire straight at Scott Carson, returning to Anfield for the first time since his transfer away from the club.
In injury time, Arbeloa scored with a curling left footer in front of the Kop. When will people learn not to leave Anfield early?
A good result, we could pick at certain points here and there, but most important of all is Liverpool are back at the summit of the Premiership.
Post Match Reaction
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
“I have had no doubts that he would start to score regularly for us.
“Robbie has told me he has got a monkey off his back, not an expression I had heard before but I understand it.
“It was only a matter of time before he scored in the league. He is quick and can punish any mistakes that defenders make, and that is what he did.”
West Brom manager Tony Mowbray:
“We intended to be positive, to ask Liverpool some questions and go for it.”We intended to be attack-minded and for long spells we held our own.
“We had a sloppy 10 minutes and we were punished for that.
“But we had some young strikers out there against top-class defenders. They were a little naive at times.”
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Agger, Carragher, Aurelio, Benayoun, Mascherano, Gerrard (Alonso 80), Riera (Babel 65), Keane (Torres 72), Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Insua, El Zhar.
Booked: Arbeloa, Mascherano.
Goals: Keane 34, 43, Arbeloa 90.
West Brom: Carson, Zuiverloon, Olsson, Donk, Robinson, Koren, Borja Valero, Greening, Kim (Filipe Teixeira 56), Bednar (Moore 56), Miller (Brunt 71).
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Hoefkens, Dorrans, Pele.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
Match Thread and Post Match Gloating here
Liverpool Possession: 51%. Shots: 23 (On target = 14). 332 accurate passes. 55 bad passes.
West Brom Possession: 49%. Shots 8 (On target = 6). 320 accurate passes. 55 bad passes.