West Brom vs. Liverpool: 6 Things Reds Learned from Premier League Opener
The Premier League season 2012-13 kicked off with some rather astonishing results, and right up there with the most surprising of them was West Brom's 3-0 home win over Liverpool.
With new managers in both dugouts, Steve Clarke for West Brom and Brendan Rodgers for Liverpool, there was an air of expectancy and excitement before the game as supporters were optimistic for the most part, dreaming of what success could lie ahead for their team.
90 minutes later and plenty of those Liverpool dreams in particular must be a little deflated.
Here are six things we learned in the Baggies' 3-0 triumph at the Hawthorns.
The Honeymoon Period Is over for Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool fans have been hugely looking forward to the start of the new campaign with Brendan Rodgers in place as manager and his progressive tactics and style of play, several new signings and optimism rife once again that they could challenge for a top-four spot.
Easy wins against Gomel might have given a false sense of security for players or supporters that things were progressing smoothly; if so, then the opening day defeat brings everybody back to earth with a bump.
Liverpool shouldn't be unduly worried—obviously the result is a poor one, but there is no need to suggest that this is evidence that the wrong decisions have been taken.
What it does mean, however, is that the serious hard work needs to start.
Much More Work to Do for Brendan Rodgers with His 4-3-3 System
Liverpool played largely well for an hour, until Daniel Agger was shown a straight red card against West Brom. From then on the team lost their shape and the defence lost all their composure.
Nobody should have been expecting the new 4-3-3 system to be flawlessly implemented for the very first serious match under the new manager, but the issues still remaining were highlighted in this game.
Movement in the final third is much improved from the second half of last season, but there could certainly have been more work done in this regard from the wide forwards and Steven Gerrard in the middle of midfield.
Similarly, the players are still yet to really grasp how they must be patient with the ball at their feet when faced with too many defenders; the option for Rodgers is to turn back, pass to a teammate and build again, retaining possession.
Several Reds were content to try to hit a difficult forward ball, losing it in the process, or else to try and force the issue by looking for quick balls up to Suarez when he lacked support.
Joe Allen: He'll Fit Right in
Liverpool didn't have too many stand-out performers for the entire game, but debutant Joe Allen enjoyed an encouraging match.
Brought in to encourage treasuring possession, impose a pressing game in midfield and help shape the side, Allen seemed to get much of that right on the day.
His passing was impressive indeed as he completed 96 percent of them in total. In the final third, he completed the same percentage, with 24 out of 25 attempts finding another Red shirt.
Allen also won all three of his attempted tackles and three out of six attempted ground duels.
Stats courtesy of EPLindex.com
Daniel Agger Is a Vital Component of the Team
Liverpool's best defender, Daniel Agger, saw red against West Brom for a harshly adjudged penalty and will miss the Manchester City Premier League match as a consequence.
Agger's dismissal and the Reds' subsequent collapse showed two things.
Firstly, there is still some distance to go for the squad to really understand what is required of them in the new formation. Losing one man in a team shouldn't signal such a ragged outfit play out the rest of the game, but that's what happened to Liverpool.
Jamie Carragher replaced Stewart Downing, shoring up the defence, but taking one player out of the build-up play and the Reds lost their shape entirely from that point on.
Secondly, the lack or organisation and reliability in defence when Agger was off the pitch was just appalling. He is the one who glues the side together at the back—talking and ordering constantly.
Liverpool need him fit and available as much as possible—his loss for the City game will be vast indeed.
Luis Suarez Needs More Support in Scoring Goals
Eight shots—two on target, five off target and one blocked.
That was Luis Suarez's statistics for the West Brom game.
He had precisely half of Liverpool's total shots, and both of the Reds' only two efforts on goal.
Glen Johnson and Fabio Borini both missed the target, while a further six efforts from various players were blocked well before they reached the goal.
The entire burden of scoring goals cannot fall on Luis Suarez's shoulders again this season, and the shape and system the Reds play should see that it doesn't. The wide forwards and attacking midfielder in particular should be able to support much more in and around the box, and get involved in taking chances.
That's one thing Liverpool didn't do today—especially Suarez, but the Reds must make sure it is not only the Uruguayan who takes the risks of shooting.
Liverpool Still Needs Another Signing or Two
Joe Cole going off injured, Daniel Agger's red card and the apparent indifference of Rodgers towards several players on his bench—Charlie Adam has hardly featured in the three competitive games Liverpool have played, Andy Carroll was a last option at 3-0 down—shows that, despite recent improvements and acquisitions, the Reds still need to bulk up a little more in the final week of the transfer window.
Whether that be Nuri Sahin or a different central midfielder, Clint Dempsey or a different wide forward or another brand new name thrown into the mix, suddenly announced without a sniff of a rumour as was the case with Oussama Assaidi, Brendan Rodgers will surely do well to have another quality player or two at his disposal.
The Premier League and the race to nab a top-four spot is becoming tougher every year and Liverpool needs every extra advantage they can get if they are to attain it this season.