It took 80 minutes for West Brom to have a shot, but they smash-n-grabbed their way to glory after Steven Gerrard missed a penalty
Steve Clarke speaks! "We played well and it's a terrific win for us. Since the turn of the year things haven't gone our way, but to come here and play a Liverpool team that's playing as well as they've played all season, to get that reward tonight was great for them.
"When it was given, I thought [the penalty] was really harsh. I haven't seen it, but people I've spoken to say it was a little bit worst than harsh, but that spurred us on. It gave us a little bit of positive momentum again. Hopefully we can kick on from here and start chasing the teams above us."
Mulumbu, Yacob and Foster all played excellently, plus Lukaku when he came off the bench, but that was still a remarkable scoreline. Talk about economy of effort: West Brom had four shots, leading to two goals and a fingertip save. Liverpool weren't good, but they were good enough to win that game, and if Gerrard had gone low to his left – as he nearly always does – rather than to his right with that penalty, they most likely would have done (not that it should have been a penalty, mind). Humiliating though being doubled by West Brom is for a side of Liverpool's ambitions, it's not as if they were outplayed here. Still, there's blame to be had: Gerrard had his poorest game for a while, and Agger was at fault for both goals, and I don't think Rodgers will feel, with hindsight, that his first XI was the best he might have chosen.
Shots on target: Liverpool 7-3 West Brom
Shots off target: Liverpool 9-1 West Brom
Corners Liverpool 13-5 West Brom
Crosses: Liverpool 31-11 West Brom
Possession: Liverpool 62-38 West Brom
90+6 min: To boos from the remaining home fans, and wild cheers from the visitors, the referee blows his whistle for the last time.
90+4 min: Suárez is booked for sarcastically applauding the referee after a decision goes against him.
90+3 min: Coutinho shoots from the edge of the penalty area, and the ball deflects wide off a defender's hand. Liverpool get only a corner.
90+2 mins: We're now midway through five minutes of stoppage time, but this game is over.
Liverpool throw men forward and then give the ball away, and Morrison runs into acres of space where a midfield should be. He passes to Lukaku, who beats Agger with a drop of the shoulder and Reina with a firm, right-footed shot.
89 min: Coutinho has touched the ball twice, to no great effect, and must be wondering what on earth is going on.
88 min: Suárez's shot is blocked, and one pass later Lukaku is mounting a one-man break, taking on Agger, beating him and then shooting wide from the edge of the penalty area.
86 min: West Brom bring Fortuné on for Long. This looks like being a remarkable away win. The away side haven't been remotely troubled since the goal.
84 min: West Brom win another corner, this one claimed by Reina.
Unbelievable! Mulumbu's shot was West Brom's first attempt on goal, and leads to their second – McAuley escaping the attentions of Agger and heading in the corner!
80 min: Suárez gives away a free-kick, and Mulumbu gives him an angry shove. Both players get a talking to, but no further action is taken … and the free-kick is then worked to Mulumbu, whose 25-yard shot was heading into the net before Reina's excellent fingertip save.
78 min: Liverpool's final substitution sees Philippe Coutinho replace Downing to make his debut.
77 min: Gerrard's penalty is low and to his right. Not terrible, but Foster goes the right way and gets a strong hand to it. Maybe he is England's best keeper after all!
Enrique sends the ball into the box, Suárez goes down under Olsson's challenge, and the referee gives the penalty! Looked a bit soft to me.
75 min: This has been tremendously one-sided, but that's quite an aggressive substitution from West Brom – they might fancy their chances of nicking this.
74 min: Downing sends the free-kick high, and West Brom take off Dorrans and bring on Lukaku.
73 min: Brunt is booked now, for clipping Suárez's heels – quite deliberately – a few yards outside the box. That Foster save looked even better in slow-motion.
72 min: James Morrison is booked for kicking the ball away.
71 min: Great save! Downing's great pass finds Sterling, who passes across the edge of the penalty area to Gerrard. His shot is excellently saved by Foster, flinging out his right arm, and Borini sends the rebound wide.
70 min: It's just not quite happening for Liverpool. Gerrard's excellent low pass finds Suárez, whose shot is well blocked. They're looking more likely to score since the substitutions, though. Shot count: Liverpool 14-0 West Brom.
69 min: Liam Ridgewell is booked for taking out Sterling.
68 min: A good chance for Liverpool, with Johnson passing to Downing, who lays off to Borini, whose effort initially looks really decent, but Foster catches it with dismissive ease.
65 min: West Brom have stopped attacking, and started timewasting. Downing eventually finds an excellent ball over the visitors' massed defence and into the path of Gerrard, but it's a tough one to control as it drops over his shoulder, and Foster collects.
64 min: Liverpool pass the ball from one side to the other, as West Brom get numbers back. Eventually they work it to Johnson, who performs numerous stepovers and then gives it away.
61 min: Suárez sends the free-kick into the wall, and the rebound out of play, off the wall.
59 min: Suárez, just outside the penalty area, feels Yacob's breath behind him and goes to ground. The referee awards the free kick. Liverpool take off Shelvey and Henderson, and bring on Borini and Sterling.
58 min: Rodgers has seen enough! There are multiple substitutions readying themselves on the Liverpool bench, as Suárez sends a terribly mishit shot squirming wide.
56 min: Another decent break by Liverpool, this one ending with Gerrard, on the right wing, trying to pass the ball back to Henderson but finding only the nearest defender. West Brom showing more attacking intent this half (though without having any shots yet).
54 mins: Shelvey is offside again! His header from a corner deflects back to Henderson, whose header flies to Shelvey, now offside, whose effort rumbles across goal and wide anyway.
52 min: Great chance for Liverpool! A good break ends with Johnson, on the right flank, and his low cross runs behind Henderson, who improvises a backheeled effort which is on target but saved. Shot count: Liverpool 10-0 West Brom. Also worth mentioning that the break was preceded by a blind crossfield pass by Gerrard, intended for Agger, that found only Dorrans. He got away with it.
50 min: Downing, 18 yards out and central, has a shot; the ball deflects straight back to him, so he has another shot, also deflected, and Foster gets out smartly to smother the loose ball as Suárez sniffed a chance. Now, some unpromising stats for the home side.
47 min: West Brom have the first decent attack of the half, but Dorrans' cross is too loopy and floaty and Reina claims it easily.
46 min: They're off! Again! This time Liverpool do the honours.
That was exceedingly disappointing. Clearly Liverpool are missing Sturridge, but why didn't they keep the formation that has been impressing of late and bring in Borini, who Rodgers thinks, or at least thought not very long ago, is "technically strong, a good finisher with both feet, quick, tactically very good [and] arguably the best physical player I’ve worked with in terms of his pace, power and fitness"? There are options, at least, on the bench for Liverpool: Borini, Sterling and Coutinho are all there, and must look tempting right now. West Brom are being as good as they need to be to not lose; whether their ambition and ability exceeds that fairly low standard remains to be seen.
45+2 min: The last kick of the half is a shot by Johnson from just outside the right-hand corner of the penalty area, which bounces wide. And with that, it's half-time.
45+1 min: Downing's best cross of the match so far seems destined for Suárez, but instead Olsson clears over his shoulder and away. Disclaimer; it may have been Johnson's cross.
45 min: West Brom have been very poor this half, and Liverpool have dominated without convincing. The referee only wants to watch another minute. and quite right too.
42 min: Having avoided one unhappy fate, Reid meets another, taking out Suárez with a very late tackle and receiving a textbook booking. A few moments earlier the Uruguayan had collapsed in the penalty area while competing with Gareth McAuley for a high ball. The referee sensibly ignores his appeal.
41 min: Nearly an own goal! Shelvey takes the ball to the byline, and doesn't look up to see that there's nobody in the penalty area for him to cross to, so he slams in a low cross that Steven Reid very nearly diverts from one leg onto another and into his own goal – it floats just over the bar.
38 min: Downing passes to Suárez, who switches the ball onto his left foot and suddenly has an excellent shooting chance, 20 yards from goal. He smashes the ball over the bar. Shot count: Liverpool 7-0 West Brom.
35 min: A fine West Brom move ends with a corner, which is cleared to Suárez, who taps the ball to Downing, who gives it away in his own penalty area. Dorrans spares his blushes by crossing into touch.
33 min: It's not just the atmosphere that has deflated a bit since the start – the ball has too. The referee asks for a new one.
33 min: Liverpool take a corner short to Downing, whose cross only just evades Agger, who has totally lost Olsson again.
32 min: West Brom need to do something about the Johnson-Downing right-wing duopoly. At some point soon one of them will do something properly dangerous, and Liverpool will score.
29 min: West Brom spend an extraordinarily long time attempting to clear the ball, and failing. Finally they get forward, and Mulumbu sends in a tasty low cross that everyone misses.
26 min: Downing cuts inside and shoots with his left foot, and Foster pushes the ball into the air and catches it at the second time of asking. To those asking about Liverpool's unfamiliar shirt this evening, meanwhile, here's an answer from the Liverpool Echo:
Liverpool will wear the ‘Seeing is Believing’ logo on their shirts for tonight’s clash with West Brom at Anfield.
The Reds will be showing their support for sponsors Standard Chartered’s global charitable initiative aimed at tackling avoidable blindness in developing countries.
The limited edition shirts worn by the players will be signed after the match and auctioned off with every pound raised matched by Standard Chartered.
It will be the second time Liverpool have worn the ‘Seeing is Believing’ logo with the final home game of last season against Chelsea generating more than £86,000 for the cause.
24 min: Liverpool win another corner, and Agger totally evades Olsson to send a free header goalwards – but Foster tips over!
22 min: Down the other end, Long controls a long pass very nicely, but Enrique arrives to wow the crowd with a beautiful, curling long-range corner-concession.
20 min: The corner floats over the six yard box and ends up with Suárez, who runs to the byline and does that thing when you flick one foot around the other foot and use that first foot to cross the ball when everyone is expecting to use the other one. Everyone goes ooh. West Brom clear.
20 min: Liverpool attack down the right again, and they get plenty of people in the penalty area, but Downing does his cut-inside-and-shoot-with-his-left-foot thing, and it's deflected for a corner.
17 min: Liverpool attack, and work the ball to Suárez on the right-hand corner of the penalty area, but he bucks the trend by passing to Downing, whose cross from the right is just too high to be useful.
15 min: It's all gone rather quiet, both figuratively, in terms of on-pitch action, and literally. "In your expert opinion, is Ben Foster the best English keeper?" asks Bryan Tisinger. Not really. In his loan spell at Watford he showed brilliant long-range distribution – Aidy Boothroyd pretty much built his team around it – and that makes him unbeatable in a long-ball side. Generally, though, I prefer Hart's handling (though not on Saturday).
12 min: Liverpool keep on having shots from the right-hand corner of the penalty area. Gerrard's the latest to chance his arm, and this one is low, hard and wide of the far post.
9 min: Johnson's cross clips the heel of a defender and bounces back into his path, and this time the right-back smacks the ball goalwards, from the corner of the penalty area. Foster gets his hands to the ball, but only pushes it into the path of Shelvey, who was three yards offside.
7 min: Liverpool keep giving the ball away in their own half. West Brom keep failing to punish them. "Gene Mackie has a point – Black Bomber is excellent and, if I may be so bold, is one of the many cheeses sold by the award winning Cheesery in Dundee, alongside local favourites such as Anster, Gruth Dhu and Caboc, as well as many continental varieties including the pungent Epoisses," writes Simon McMahon. "My own personal choice? Primula (with chives)." Gruth Dhu? Wasn't he in Star Wars?
5 min: The ball falls to Suárez, on the edge of the penalty area, and his first-time shot with the outside of his right boot flies 15 yards wide.
4 min: Both teams have attacked once, down the same wing (West Brom's left, Liverpool's right), but both crosses were dealt with easily.
3 min: Dorrans leaps for a high ball, flies into a defender and lands on his arse, requiring extended treatment. "Local cheese emporium? No recession around Guardian towers then," writes David Flynn. Erm… "Tesco over here in Ireland stock a delicious lime and chilli cheddar. No doubt most just people read that and gagged but trust me as I misquote Alan Partridge, I would eat it three times a day if I could but … I would be dead."
1 min: Shelvey gives the ball away (I'm mainly writing this phrase so I can copy and paste it for repeated use over the next couple of hours).
1 min: The referee blows his whistle, and West Brom get the match under way.
The stats just keep on coming. Here's another. Nothing to do with Daniel Day-Lewis, mind.
The players come out, and Youssouf Mulumbu taps the "This is Anfield" sign for good luck as he exits the tunnel, the only time I can remember seeing an away player doing it.
Five minutes from kick-off, and tension is building at Anfield (I assume; I'm in Kings Cross). Peter Oh suggests that I combine this evening's key pre-match topics and "demoralise Clarke and West Brom" by "starting the false rumor that Daniel Day-Lewis has been cast in the cheese documentary The Last of the Manchego."
"Liverpool have beaten a top 10 team this season," insists mike65ie. "West Ham were 10th when Liverpool beat them at away on 9 December." One of the few stats here I copied from a widely recognised stat-provider. Bah! Talking of whom…
"Lancashire Black Bomber. Greatest cheese in the world," says Gene Mackie. "Like the most intense mature cheddar you've ever tasted. Lancashire might have given up on Premier League football, but they do damn good cheese." New one on me, Gene. I'll have to see if Cheeses Of Muswell Hill, my local north London cheese emporium, stock it (they don't stock St James, sadly).
Brendan Rodgers speaks: "Daniel Sturridge should be fine for the next game. Raheem's a young player who we've just got to nurture. We've got to make sure we don't overload him. We've been terrific, we didn't get the results we deserved in the last few games but we've been getting better all the time. There's a real feeling now that we're making this our own. It's going to be a difficult game, but for us we're at home, we want to take the initiative and play as well as we have been."
Steve Clarke also speaks: "Almost everybody in the country expects a Liverpool win tonight, but inside our dressing room we don't. I know the players well here, I know the way Brendan works, his style of play. We expect a difficult match but it's one we can look forward to."
"Good evening Simon," writes Simon McMahon. "Yet another Pulitzer Prize winning statistical analysis in your preamble. The word that springs to mind is thorough. A Liverpool win being all but guaranteed tonight, what's your favourite cheese?" Thank you, both for your praise and for your probing question. I quite like a cheese called St James that hails from the edges of the Lake District. It's not the best in the world, but it is very good, and British. You?
The absent Sturridge is replaced in Liverpool's line-up by Jonjo Shelvey, the only change from the 2-2 draw at Manchester City, with Philippe Coutinho on the bench and thus available to make his debut at some point. West Brom dropped Romelu Lukaku to the bench as they made two changes from the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham with Liam Ridgewell and Youssef Mulumbu coming in and Goran Popov suspended. Peter Odemwingie did travel to Anfield, and was wearing his club sweats when he hopped off the coach, but he'll be watching from the stands.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, José Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Shelvey, Suarez. Subs: Jones, Coutinho, Allen, Borini, Sterling, Skrtel, Wisdom.
West Brom: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Morrison, Brunt, Long. Subs: Myhill, Rosenberg, Lukaku, Jones, Tamas, Fortune, Thomas.
Referee: Jon Moss.
Good evening, and welcome to recently-improved Liverpool's latest attempt to beat a team in the top half of the Premier League (their record against top-half teams so far this season: P13 W0 D7 L6), against a side that has lost five of their last six in the league (drawing the other) and kept just one clean sheet in 29 top-flight away games (albeit at Anfield, where they won 1-0 in April) and still will overtake the Reds if they win. The Baggies will be without suspended spitter Goran Popov (though Peter Odemwingie is in the squad); Liverpool have no Sturridge.
Let's start with some more statistics, which so often can convince you that you know what's about to happen in a football match until the match actually starts and something else happens instead.
• Liverpool's last three home matches have all featured clean sheets and Luis Suárez goals. Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 1-0 West Brom
• West Brom haven't won a top-flight away match on a Monday since 1969 (they have failed 14 times since). Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 2-0 West Brom
• Liverpool have won 64, or 46%, of the teams' 139 previous matches, and 33, or 55%, of their 60 league matches at Anfield, as well as seven, or 50%, of all matches played in February (though the other games included a 5-1 defeat in 1938 and a 6-1 shellacking two years earlier). Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 3-1 West Brom
• In matches played against West Brom on the 11th day of a month Liverpool have a near-perfect record: P5 W4 D1 F8 A1. But Liverpool are generally less convincing in matches against these opponents played in February (P14 W7 D3 L4, including 5-1 and 6-1 thumpings in the 30s). Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 4-1 West Brom
• In years when Daniel Day-Lewis wins Baftas Liverpool do particularly well against West Brom. Although the teams didn't meet in 1990, when Day-Lewis was first recognised for his work in My Left Foot, Liverpool did win the league (for the last time). Day-Lewis's next success, for Gangs of New York in 2003, prompted a 6-0 away win for the Reds at the Hawthorns (their only meeting in that calendar year), while his nod for There Will be Blood in 2008 coincided with a 3-0 win at Anfield (again their only meeting that year). Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 5-1 West Brom
• This week Mumford and Sons won the award for best album at the Grammys. The last time a British male act won that prize and Liverpool played Albion in the same year, it was Phil Collins for No
Talent Jacket Required in 1986 – when Liverpool won 2-1 at the Hawthorns. You may also count Robert Plant (winner with the American Alison Krauss in 2009; West Brom 0-2 Liverpool), John Lennon (winner with Yoko Ono in 1982; Liverpool 1-0 West Brom, Liverpool 2-0 West Brom), the Bee Gees (though some people from other places also contributed songs to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack which won in 1979; Liverpool 2-1 West Brom, Liverpool 3-1 West Brom, West Brom 0-2 Liverpool), or Fleetwood Mac (though only half of them was British, and one of them was a woman, when they won for Rumours in 1978; West Brom 0-1 Liverpool, West Brom 1-1 Liverpool), or George Harrison (though The Concert for Bangladesh, winner in 1973, was recorded with various "friends" who came from all over the place; West Brom 1-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 2-1 West Brom, Liverpool 1-0 West Brom). The only sniff of optimism here for the Baggies comes from The Beatles' victory for Sgt Pepper's in 1968, a year when the teams met five times and they won once, an FA Cup second replay, but even then Liverpool won 4-1 at home in the league. And anyway, The Beatles were from Liverpool, so can't possibly be a good omen for the other lot. Statistical scoreline: Liverpool 6-1 West Brom
Statistical conclusion: home winLikelihood of any of those statistics being remotely relevant: none
I'll be here from 7.30pm or so. 'Til then, then…