The past fortnight has brought a dramatic change in B71, one that is a mixture of pride and frustration as Darren Moore’s leadership has proved that there is still a decent team at the Hawthorns, but why did the powers-that-be leave it so late to make the change?
How can a team that has won and drawn at Anfield, won at Old Trafford and got a point against Spurs at Wembley be rooted to the bottom of the table? The team that deservedly beat Manchester United on Sunday, becoming the only team to record victories at both Old Trafford and Anfield this season, was so far removed in terms of application and organisation from the that which surrendered so meekly to Burnley a fortnight earlier, and yet the starting line-up included ten of the same players, with McClean for Evans being the only change.
I’ll admit to expressing an understanding, at the time, of why Pardew hadn’t been ditched – the finances, the lack of a viable alternative, the fear that Moore would be damaged by the experience – but I wasn’t close to the club. It became increasingly clear as time went on that the players had lost faith with Pardew, as they had with Pulis in the autumn. If we could pick that up from a distance, those in and around the training ground must have seen it much earlier. The dramatic change in attitude since Big Dave took over is a damning indictment of the decision to keep Pardew in post for nine consecutive defeats.
Looking forward to Saturday, one big difference over recent months is that I am. I really am looking forward to seeing if Big Dave can repeat his amazing success from last weekend as Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool visit the Hawthorns. The match was switched from Sunday afternoon to Saturday lunchtime to allow the Reds more time to prepare for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma on Tuesday, but I would still expect to see the German rest some of his star players as he did in the match at Everton before the second leg of the quarter final against City. Salah, Firmino and Ox were all omitted from the starting line-up at Goodison despite Liverpool’s healthy lead in the tie – Mo Salah may not wish to be rested, however, as he chases the Premier League scoring record – he needs two goals from the remaining four games to beat the 38-game record of 31 goals, but another three to beat Shearer and Cole’s record of 34 goals from 42 games. Lallana, Matip, Clyne, Gomez and Can are all likely to be missing through injury, while Lovren is also a doubt.
For Albion, it seems unlikely that Moore will change much, if anything, having got positive results with the same line up in his two games in charge. Daniel Sturridge, who came on at Old Trafford for the last few minutes, is not able to play against his parent club while Jonny Evans and Nacer Chadli remain doubtful.
Albion’s win at Anfield in January was their first victory over Liverpool since they won the Premier League encounter in February 2013, also on Merseyside. The Baggies last home win over the Reds was on the opening day of the 2012/13 season when goals from Gera, Odemwingie and Lukaku gave Steve Clarke’s team the perfect start to the season.
That was in the midst of a run of four wins in five Premier League games for the Baggies over Liverpool, which ended a barren spell. Liverpool won the first nine Premier League encounters between the sides scoring 23 goals without reply.
Those spells of positive results seem to a regular occurrence for Albion against Liverpool. Between October 1950 and April 1967, Albion lost just two of fifteen league games against the Reds ending with a run of four wins and a draw in five games. While immediately before the Second World War, the Baggies notched up five successive victories including a 6-1 thrashing in 1936 and a 5-1 win in 1938.
That match in 1936 is Albion’s record win over Liverpool with the legendary Ginger Richardson grabbing a hat trick with the other goals coming from Stan Wood (2) and Jack Mahon. Liverpool’s record win at the Hawthorns is somewhat more recent in 2003 when Michael Owen became the joint top scorer in the league at the Hawthorns in one game as he bagged four of the Reds’ six with Milan Baroš scoring the other two.
Could we dare to dream, if not of survival, maybe of another famous victory? With Liverpool having one eye on Roma next week, I wouldn’t put it past Albion to nick it.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
27 Jan 2018 – FA Cup 4th Round
Liverpool 2 (Firmino, Salah)
West Brom 3 (Rodriguez (2), Matip (o.g.))
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
16 Apr 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 0
Liverpool 1 (Firmino)
Last win at the Hawthorns
18 Aug 2012 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Gera, Odemwingie (pen), Lukaku)
Albion’s Record against Liverpool
|Premier League Record|