Liverpool may have gone into this clash against former boss, Roy Hodgson’s, West Bromwich Albion absent of their two most recognised stalwarts. But it was Luis Suarez who once again proved his immeasurable value to this current team. Suarez instrumental in a 2-0 away victory for Liverpool.
The Uruguayan failed to get his name on the score sheet at The Hawthorns. But he delivered another standout performance which had everything but a goal.
Suarez had a hand in both goals in a game which – but for more evidence of the Reds profligacy in font of goal – Liverpool could have won by a four or five goal margin.
Charlie Adam scored the opener from the penalty spot just 9 minutes in, after Jerome Thomas had felled Suarez inside the penalty area. And the mercurial forward was involved again, as he played in Andy Carroll to double the lead before half-time.
Victory at The Hawthorns may have been expected, however, having failed to capitalise in similar circumstances already this season, the importance of victory should not be underestimated.
Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool could ill-afford to spurn any more Premier League points so soon, after previously surrendering points from winning positions against the likes of Sunderland and Norwich City.
And, having gained an early lead, for a time it looked like this game could be another case of chances wasted. But the visitors were finally able to make their obvious superiority count when Carroll grabbed a goal, to further bolster the strikers own confidence.
The hosts may have lamented their luck when the assistant referee flagged and instructed referee Lee Mason to point to the spot. But there was certainly sufficient contact when Suarez went to ground under a challenge from Thomas just inside the box.
Adam was granted responsibility with both Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt absent from the starting XI. And the Scot rolled his spot-kick into the corner of the net with Ben Foster guessing the wrong way.
Liverpool ensured that the absence of their captain – due to an ankle infection was not detrimental, as Adam pulled the strings in midfield, with able support from the excellent Lucas Leiva. Whilst the Carroll-Suarez partnership in attack showed perhaps its most encouraging signs to date.
At the other end of the field, the Reds also coped comfortably in the rare absence of Jamie Carragher in the heart of defence. Although the partnership of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger faced a limited threat from a forward line evidently suffering from the absence of Shane Long. Whilst the ever-consistent Jose Enrique produced another outstanding performance in both attack and defence from left full-back.
Once in front Liverpool produced some fluid and expansive football. Suarez picked out Carroll with a cross but the big number 9 goal-bound header was deflected to safety. Whilst Suarez himself went close on a couple of occasions. The Uruguayan still yet to find that regular finishing touch which his all round play deserves.
Though the Reds finally had the second goal which their dominance so warranted. And it came on the stroke of half-time. Liverpool caught their hosts on the break but the move owed much to an excellent, incisive pass from Lucas to release the alert Suarez.
Suarez played the ball across to Carroll – who was left with on the goalkeeper to beat. Carroll’s first touch was somewhat heavy but he was still able to capitalise on the situation and send the ball under an onrushing Foster and into the net.
West Brom were honestly outfought in every department. Perhaps their only genuine chance of the game fell to the feet of Somen Tchoyi shortly after half-time. However, having found space, Tchoyi sent his shot fractionally wide of Pepe Reina’s far post.
On the other hand, Liverpool continued to pose a threat and always looked the more likely to add to the scoreline. Suarez was of course never far away from a goal. Yet it was Enrique and Downing who came closest.
The left-back forcing Foster into a finger tip save after trying his luck from wide on the left. Whilst Downing struck a post having beaten Foster with his shot, with West Brom again caught short of numbers at the back.
All-in-all a fine evenings work for Dalglish’s improving Reds and an important three points. Liverpool may still be a work in progress in front of goal. But on this evidence, the Reds will continue to create the chances; and with Suarez in their armoury, they will pose a threat to more challenging opposition than this.
Man of the Match: Luis Suarez
Suarez could be awarded this accolade almost every week. But another threatening, tenacious performance warrants the praise. Lucas, Adam & Enrique also deserve credit.