Mowbray awaits key
phase as Albion woe
at Anfield continues
When it comes to matches against Liverpool, there is no question that West Bromwich Albion are not exactly weighed down with expectation.
It has been 41 years and 19 visits since Albion were successful at Anfield. In fact, not since Garth Crooks scored in a 4-1 defeat in 1981 has an Albion player found the back of the net against the Reds on their own patch.
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Robbie Keane added to that woeful record with his first league goals for the Premier League title hopefuls and Alvaro Arbeloa sealed the victory in added time.
However, Albion manager Tony Mowbray was quick to emphasise the general insignificance of the defeat in the bigger picture of their campaign to retain their Premier League status.#
He is even looking beyond next week’s home clash against Chelsea, towards a run of six games against sides that will be rubbing shoulders with Albion in the bottom half.
“These aren’t the games that are going to define our season,” he said. “I think if we stay in this division we will come back next year even stronger and with better players, be positive and try to win these matches.
“After Chelsea I think we have six games until we are at the halfway stage and we have to go and get some points in those six games.
“We have 26 or 27 games left and they will define our season. We have seen enough in the games we have played against the top sides to know we are competitive. We feel we are a team that can compete in this league but we have to go and prove it. Our performance level has been good and we should have more points, but a lot of teams will say that.
“There have been disappointments like Blackburn scoring a last-minute equaliser last week and the manner in which we conceded the first goal against Rovers.
“Perhaps there is some naïvety at times in our defending, and we have youthful strikers forging their way in this division. Generally we have been good from box to box and we will learn quickly.
“I am confident we will win more than enough games to finish comfortably in the division.”
As they did against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Albion started brightly and frustrated the hosts by retaining possession with almost effortless ease, without carving out any real scoring chances. But Liverpool have an almost embarrassing array of talent and even without Golden Boy Fernando Torres, who returned to the bench after injury, they had far too much quality for Albion.
Keane’s clever movement proved too difficult for Jonas Olsson and Ryan Donk to handle and he was played in by Steven Gerrard to open the scoring in the 34th minute.
The Irishman scored his second two minutes before half time after beating the off-side trap and the on-rushing Scott Carson.
Arbeloa completed the victory with an exquisite curling finish from just inside the area.
Scorers: Keane (34, 43), Arbeloa (90).
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Benayoun, Gerrard (Alonso, 80), Mascherano, Riera (Babel, 66), Kuyt, Keane (Torres, 72). Substitutes: Cavalieri, Hypia, Insua, El Zhar.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Carson; Zuiverloon, Donk, Olsson, Robinson, Koren, Greening, Valero, Kim (Teixeira, 56), Bednar (Moore, 56), Miller (Brunt, 71). Substitutes: Kiely, Hoefkens, Dorrans, Pele.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Bookings: Liverpool – Arbeloa, Mascherano (both fouls); Albion – Olsson (foul).
Albion man of the match: Gianni Zuiverloon – competed effectively and strongly against the tricky Arbeloa.