Liverpool V West Brom at Anfield : Match Preview
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Rodgers wants Reds to tighten up
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits his side are at risk of earning an unwanted reputation of being soft targets at set-pieces.
In four of their last five matches they have conceded from dead-ball situations and the Reds boss feels most of the goals were preventable.
But after three successive clean sheets at the start of the season, there is a growing perception that Liverpool can be exposed at corners and free-kicks, as the likes of Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Manchester United have demonstrated.
"The more you concede at set-pieces the more you will (gain a reputation)," said Rodgers, who has been tackling the issue with his players this week ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at home to West Brom.
"It's just concentration. The ball that came into the box against Newcastle was quite a straightforward one and we just didn't defend it well enough. We went to sleep a little bit.
"I was annoyed at the Crystal Palace one because even though the game was over (it was 3-0 at the time) it was still a goal from a set-piece that you shouldn't concede.
"But it's something that we've worked on and talked about this week in terms of our defensive mentality.
"We started the season with three clean sheets and we just need to get back to that mentality because we know that we can get goals.
"It is something we need to improve on."
Already this season Liverpool have had injuries to the likes of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Jose Enrique and undergone a switch to three central defenders.
But Rodgers insists the changes are not to blame for their frailties.
"No, because from a set-piece you are given a job and I think it should be the simplest part of the game in terms of the ball is not moving," he added.
"If you analyse the goals from set-pieces the Southampton goal we just lost our marker and didn't do our job properly on the post.
"The goal we conceded against Manchester United away was from a simple ball into the box from a corner and we lost our man - that was a duel, one v one.
"The goal last week (at Newcastle) was a straightforward ball into the box and we switched off at the back post and the guy got in and scored.
"Again it is individuals. We have coped with set-pieces in the first few games - you just have to ensure every single game your concentration is right or you will concede a goal."
Liverpool sit third in the table heading into the weekend but their recent record against visitors West Brom underlines where they need to improve.
The Baggies have won the last three league encounters and Rodgers knows his side have to improve their consistency and win games like this one to maintain their progress.
Midfielder Lucas Leiva returns to the squad for the visit of Albion having missed last week's draw at Newcastle after the birth of his second child.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho has returned to training but Rodgers thinks it is more likely he will be in contention for Arsenal next weekend.
Left-back Jose Enrique is likely to sit out a second successive week as his knee problem continues to be managed.
West Brom winger Scott Sinclair misses out as he is still recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained against Manchester United.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster is progressing well in his 12-week recovery from a stress fracture in a bone in his right foot, while George Thorne and Zoltan Gera are said to have "little niggles" from an Under-21 game.
West Brom defender Gareth McAuley has told his team-mates they must keep their wits about them when they come up against Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge at Anfield.
The Liverpool duo have scored six goals in three Premier League games since Suarez returned from suspension last month.
McAuley accepts West Brom will have their hands full trying to keep them quiet, but takes heart from the two defeats they handed out to Liverpool last season, which included him scoring a headed goal in the 2-0 victory on Merseyside in February.
"Suarez is a quality player, world class," McAuley told reporters. "He knows where the back of the net is and he's a handful. He's someone we'll need to keep a close eye on.
"Suarez and Sturridge are clever players. They link well and one of them can go long while the other comes short. They have good movement and it's going to be up to us to make clever decisions in the game. We'll have to be on top of our game if we're going to stop them."
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