Liverpool V West Brom at Anfield : Match Preview

11 February 2013 04:21
Liverpool V West Brom - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Dalglish signings showing form at Liverpool - Clarke

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke claims Liverpool are starting to reap the benefits of the players signed during his spell at the club working as number two to Kenny Dalglish.

Clarke will return to Anfield for Monday's Barclays Premier League clash for the first time since he and Dalglish parted company with the Reds last summer after 18 months in charge.

He believes Dalglish signings such as Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique are now showing their true worth after initially taking time to settle.

Clarke said: "I'm looking forward to it. I had a great 18 months at Liverpool, I made a lot of friends and I've got a lot of good memories from my time there.

"I liked the passion of the people. They are very fair-minded and honest supporters who wanted their team to be entertaining and do well.

"There was some success. There were two cup final appearances. One was victorious and one was a defeat and, if you add in the semi-final win over Everton, there were three good trips to Wembley for the supporters.

"Supporters enjoy big days out and big occasions and at a big club like Liverpool, you should be competing for all the major honours.

"I'm not surprised now at all some of the younger players are starting to flourish, or some of the more experienced ones that Kenny signed.

"It can take a period of time for people to settle into a club the size of Liverpool.

"For Stewart Downing to be in the team and Jordan Henderson, as well as Jose Enrique, and doing really well, is good.

"Luis Suarez has really settled into the club now and, if you look at it at this stage, Liverpool are probably playing the best football in the Premier League."

Clarke can see signs of Liverpool starting to flourish under Dalglish's replacement, Brendan Rodgers.

He said: "I don't think there's anybody in football now who thinks you just turn up at a club and create a good team just because they're a great, historical club.

"You have to work at it. Every club in the league has to work hard to try to put a good team on the pitch and you have to work as hard as you can with your players.

"Brendan went in there with a different philosophy to Kenny but Liverpool have always tried to play good football. Brendan has slightly different ideas that maybe took a little bit of time to get across.

"But you can see now that the team is starting to gel and maybe starting to play the way Brendan wants them to play."

Clarke will welcome back key midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu who has not played for the Baggies since New Year's Day because of a knee problem and then being on African Nations Cup duty.

Left-back Goran Popov will start a three-match suspension after being sent off for spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker, while Clarke has to decide whether to recall striker Peter Odemwingie, who was left out against Spurs after the collapse of his transfer deadline day move to QPR.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be assessed to determine whether he is fit enough having pulled out of England's midweek friendly against Brazil with a thigh problem.

Winger Raheem Sterling, who also withdrew from international duty, is fit while new signing Philippe Coutinho has had his first week of training after his move from Inter Milan but may require more time.

Reds boss Rodgers insists the gap between themselves and fourth place is not insurmountable before the end of the season but knows his side will have to show a level of consistency not seen for some time.

He is pinning his hopes on a recent upturn in their home form, which has seen them win three successive matches and score 12 times, and the boost in confidence from successive draws with Arsenal and Manchester City.

"In terms of the performance level I can only be happy after those games," he said.

"Offensively we were very good - we were obviously disappointed with the goals we conceded - and we felt we should have taken more points.

"The confidence in the team is the real important factor for us - all players are wanting the ball, working very hard.

"We went to Manchester City and had 21 shots at goal so we look like we are always going to score and there is a real determination in the group to finish the season well."

Source: PA