Liverpool win, but are not out of the woods yet
(Adam Lallana 45, Jordan Henderson 61)
WEST BROM 1
(Saido Berahino 56-pen)
Liverpool badly needed a win, even if it had to be ugly.
And yesterday, they got what they wished for.
The 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion turned out to be exactly the hard-fought affair that many had expected.
Given how poorly they had started and how they had struggled without injured striker Daniel Sturridge, you won't find Brendan Rodgers complaining about this very average performance.
Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson scored one apiece for the hosts to render Saido Berahino's penalty strike inconsequential.
But do not be fooled into thinking that Liverpool have turned the corner with this victory, only their first in four Premiership matches. The disjointed display suggested that things are going to get worse before they become better.
The confidence that saw them clinch second place in the English Premier League last season had disappeared along with Luis Suarez.
In its place are trepidation and uncertainty, the result of an inability to get any semblance of momentum going this term.
Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic lost their places in the first 11 yesterday. They won't be the only ones this season.
In midfield, the dip in Steven Gerrard's performance is a reminder that the skipper is entering his twilight.
Yesterday, it was left to Lallana to take the game by the scruff of the neck, playing a superb one-two with Henderson to wriggle through a sea of defenders and score the opening goal.
But his brilliance came only in flashes. Liverpool need someone in the middle of the park consistent enough from start to finish.
Liverpool's defence struggled to cope with the pace and industry of WBA.
Dejan Lovren will swear that his offence that gave away the penalty, and ultimately handed WBA their 56th-minute equaliser, took place outside the penalty box. But he and his comrades were leaving huge gaps for the opponents to take advantage of.
In their next Champions League match this month, they will take on Real Madrid. If they can't handle Berahino, what chance do they stand against Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez?
Up front, Sturridge's absence was strongly felt, especially as Raheem Sterling has just waded into a sticky patch.
Substitute Balotelli still couldn't break his Premiership duck. The man he replaced in the 64th minute, Rickie Lambert, was bought as a back-up striker and that was exactly what he looked like.
After the match, Henderson spoke about how "character and determination" carried them through.
Indeed, his winning goal bore all the hallmarks of good old fighting spirit.
Sterling was shoved to the ground in the penalty area, but he sprung up instantly to feed Henderson for a cool finish into the bottom corner.
No doubt, Liverpool have the grit.
But where is the flair? Without it, Liverpool won't be getting anywhere near a Champions League spot this season.
"I thought the resilience of the players was fantastic and we were helped by the crowd, because they realised the team needed a lift. It was a big win for us."
— Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
Sturridge pens new Pool deal
Striker Daniel Sturridge has signed a new long-term contract at Liverpool.
The 25-year-old England international, who has been out injured for the last month and this week found himself at the centre of a club versus country row over how his training should be managed, scored 22 league goals last season.
"It feels great. It's a big day in my life to commit to this club and to give the club my best years, which are ahead of me," Sturridge told Liverpool's website.
Sturridge is inspired by Liverpool's second-placed finish in the league last season.
"We were so close to success last season and it was a bitter pill to take not winning the league, but that's just a taster of what the fans will get - but hopefully this time we'll have the trophies to show for it. Everyone is very obsessive in terms of wanting success and being winners. That's what we are - that's the Liverpool way." - PA Sport.