Bring on Premiership champions Chelsea or the might of Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion will puff out their chests and adopt a belligerent stance.

However, the sight of Liverpool turns them into a quivering wreck. Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to the champions of Europe at The Hawthorns was their sixth consecutive loss to Liverpool since returning to the Premiership.

Nineteen goals conceded without a solitary reply indicates the Indian sign that Liverpool hold over Bryan Robson's men. Defeat to Rafael Benitez's team was the fifth time in six outings that Albion had failed to garner any tangible reward.

All this despite some proficient performances - Saturday's lame effort excepted -has left Albion teetering on the relegation precipice. Robson was irked after their first-half capitulation and victory for Birmingham City tonight would send Albion into the bottom three after months of serious flirting.

However, the phlegmatic Albion manager is determined to ensure there is no repetition of the stage fright that blighted Saturday's performance.

"Maybe there was a case of that," he said in responding to suggestions that Albion's players were aware of their poor sequence against Liverpool.

"The players showed a little bit of nervousness and didn't perform how they have been.

"You can't understand it as Tottenham were sitting in fourth position and we played well and more than matched them.

"Manchester United played well against us but we matched them and gave them a good game. We gave Chelsea a right good game and should have got something out of it.

"So why the lads were a bit nervous about facing Liverpool, I don't know, as they have played all the top teams.

"But in the first 45 minutes, that was as poor as we've played since Fulham. Hopefully, that was a one-off and that is the end of any performances like that until the end of the season.

"The first goal was definitely offside and we had a claim for a penalty in the last few minutes. However, that doesn't hide the fact that the performance was poor.

"The only thing I look at is that the players showed good character to perform like they did after the break and put little bits of it right in the second half. That, along with Zoltan Gera getting through 45 minutes of football, were the only plus points for me."

However, the return of Gera could be an enormous fillip for Albion's six remaining fixtures. The Hungary international was massively influential in their successful battle against relegation last year but has been confined to a bit-part role this term.

A pelvic injury, allied to a hand infection and a long-running row with the Hungarian national team about their care of Gera, has left him kicking his heels while Albion toil.

Albion's parlous position forces Robson to thrust Gera back into the fray sooner than he would like. He said: "We have been bringing him back slowly and wrapping him in cotton wool to try to get the best out of him. That 45 minutes of football under his belt should hold him in good stead from now until the end of the season. Hopefully, he won't have any reaction to his injury.

"He showed in that 45 minutes what he can do, as he hit a couple of great crosses into the box that created chances for us. He had four shots, two of which could easily have been goals, so he showed in that period of time what a dangerous player he is."

Steve Watson, the Albion midfielder, had to limp off with a hamstring strain against Liverpool. It is too early to know whether he will be fit to face Aston Villa on Sunday.