I wasn’t convinced about the formation before the game. Still not convinced. The only thing that saves it is if Sturridge and Suarez are in irrepressible form. Lucky for Rodgers, they were.
Plus Steve Clarke had put out an attacking formation and Liverpool, with Lucas back in the holding role, were able to take control of midfield. Sessegnon and Mulumbu were overrun, and Anelka and Anichebe offered little threat.
Each of the Suarez finishes was delicious. The first, he got too much room, but West Brom couldn’t handle him at the back. Yacob and Olsson were torn apart. It was interesting to see the two strikers often in the same five-to-ten yards of the pitch, as they have been since they’ve started playing together after the end of Suarez’s ban.
Initially I thought it was two players taking similar, instinctive positions and that it could be a problem. But it actually looks tactical. They can both play in tight space, and easily beat defenders with pace or skill. So the idea may be that the two strikers come up against weaker opposition, and Liverpool simply rely on them being better than their markers on the day.
Which is a problem when you come up against better teams, like Liverpool will against Arsenal next week. But against West Brom it worked and for now, it will take a bit of pressure, or focus, off Rodgers’ tactics.
Cissokho was poor again. And at the end, didn’t bother to do the simple things like close players down, or block attempted crosses. He was also at fault for the penalty, though it was a soft one; probably a bad decision from the linesman.
Lucas and Henderson were good. Henderson should have scored at least one though, and there’s always a risk when Gerrard isn’t finding shooting opportunities, like he didn’t today, that with Lucas as the third midfield man, we again have to rely simply on our strikers being better than the defenders for goals.
Coutinho coming back will help there, and if he stays fit with the two strikers in the form they’re in, then Rodgers can probably afford to stick with the 5-3-2/3-5-2.
Both wing-backs were quiet today. Skrtel was immense again. Sakho is playing well, and is a big signing so I can understand why Rodgers is selecting him. But our left side looks weak as a result of not having Agger’s poise. Both Sakho and Cissokho have a bit of a ‘head down’ mentality.
If we look a bit susceptible at the back, both tend to hang their head slightly. Agger would strengthen that left side, and it’s no surprise that the penalty was given away there.
The goals. Amazing. Suarez managed to settle the nerves with a brilliant run and finish with the outside of his left boot from the right hand side of the box. He likes that trick, and it often comes off for him. His header from the second was on the edge of the penalty area, and didn’t have a huge amount of pace from the cross from Cissokho, which may have taken a deflection.
How he decided it was a shooting opportunity is beyond me. Brilliant. The commentator said ‘for goodness sake’ in praise of the finish. The third, from a superb Gerrard free kick, was also great. Backwards header. Again though he had way too much space.
(Suarez and Sturridge do their best Zoolander impressions. Sturridge wins. Photo: Daily Mirror)
Sturridge. My word, what a fourth. He looked a little bit frustrated in the opening hour.He skied an effort or two, lost his footing, lost the ball in good positions. But he smacked the bar with a ferocious effort and nearly knocked a fan unconscious with one of the most ferocious free kicks I’ve seen which went just wide.
But his goal was magnificent. A cheeky chip that probably eluded Myhill’s forlorn dive by an inch at the most. Perfect. And I’ll put it here (until it’s taken down).
Overall, a fine win. But Cissokho looks weak and I’m still not comfortable with the formation. Coutinho coming back is massive, and he should replace Cissokho/Henderson/Lucas depending on the opposition, but I’m also still keen to see Agger given a go at left-back.
We struggled against Arsenal last year and we may do so again next week, but if Suarez and Sturridge are given any bit of space by Arsenal’s centre-backs, we’ll have a good chance.