Club Focus – Liverpool – Re-building work must go on after West Brom defeat

Liverpool’s chances of securing European football for next season took a huge blow as Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion side came out on top with a 2-1 win over the Reds at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Hodgson parted company with the Anfield outfit back in January after a poor six-month spell as manager and the former Fulham boss took revenge for his sacking with this result.

There is no doubt that Liverpool have improved significantly under the watch of caretaker boss Kenny Dalglish. In fact, the Reds have taken 20 points from 11 games under the Scot, compared to 25 points from 20 games under Hodgson. Therefore, this defeat hardly suggests that Liverpool’s owners made the wrong choice when they dismissed Hodgson. However, the result does indicate that the visitors are vulnerable to the odd defeat here and there – even under ‘King Kenny.’

Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll started up front for the Reds, with the former again looking lively and creative. Meanwhile, Carroll, who joined Liverpool for a record £35m, still appears to be working his way back to full fitness. The powerful striker spent most of the game treading on thin ice following a first-half yellow card which somewhat prevented him from being a real handful for the opposition defenders. Dalglish will also have noticed that there needs to be greater service provided for Carroll if Liverpool are to make the most out of their main man. A winger will surely be on Dalglish’s ‘most wanted’ list this summer.

Liverpool were dogged by defensive injuries prior to the game and that problem only worsened at the Hawthorns. Both Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger were substituted early on, with Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Danny Wilson their replacements. The Reds did not look comfortable with four centre-halves playing at the back, while Kyrgiakos in particular was largely at fault for both of West Brom’s goals.

Even worse for Liverpool will be the news that skipper Steven Gerrard could be ruled out for the rest of the season. Gerrard, who underwent surgery back in March, looked set to return for this clash, however the midfielder reportedly faced another setback in training on Friday and speculation is now rife that the Reds star will miss the remainder of the campaign – something that will come as a huge blow for Dalglish who is still hoping to steer his side up to fifth spot.

Gerrard’s absence will give young Jay Spearing more of a chance to make his mark while Jonjo Shelvey could also play a bigger role as he looks set to return from injury. However, Gerrard has a huge influence on this Liverpool side and will be sorely missed.

Liverpool’s resurgence under Dalglish has been excellent and helped them climb the table since January, however defeat to West Brom suggests there is more rebuilding work to be done in the summer. Depending on how Liverpool cope without Gerrard over the coming weeks, the Reds boss may also need to think about splashing the cash on a long-term replacement for the talismanic skipper.

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