LIVERPOOL’S shirts declared Seeing Is Believing. And if their opening-day defeat at West Bromwich Albion underlined the size of the task facing Brendan Rodgers, then last night’s rematch was evidence of how much work remains to be done.
Gareth McAuley’s 81st-minute header and a late Romelu Lukaku strike helped the Midlanders completed a smash-and-grab raid to provide Liverpool manager Rodgers with plentiful food for thought.
With Daniel Sturridge absent, the Anfield outfit huffed and puffed at the Baggies backline only to find visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster in inspired form.
And that Foster should have saved a penalty from Steven Gerrard with the scores goalless was perhaps apt.
Certainly, Liverpool have only themselves to blame for their fourth home Premier League defeat of the campaign.
For the second successive season, a former Anfield employee returned to guide the Baggies to victory. For Roy Hodgson last year, read Steve Clarke this.
West Brom had done their homework, unsurprising given Clarke had coached Liverpool’s entire starting XI while assistant to Rodgers’ predecessor Kenny Dalglish.
And their high-pressure approach ensured the home side were given no time to settle into any sort of meaningful rhythm.
Rodgers’ side had attracted plaudits for the manner in which they responded to the dismal FA Cup defeat at Oldham Athletic with successive 2-2 draws at top-four contenders Arsenal and Manchester City.
Liverpool, though, had surrendered the lead on both occasions, leaving them 12 points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur in the final Champions League qualification berth.
Talk of a top-four finish was always fanciful. They can forget about that now.
How Liverpool missed Sturridge. The striker’s failure to overcome a hip injury meant Jonjo Shelvey was handed a first Premier League start since the Boxing Day defeat at Stoke City.
With Shelvey having complained of being made a scapegoat for that Britannia beating, this was an opportunity for the England under-21 international to post a reminder of his wares.
But Sturridge’s absence underlined the difference he has made to Liverpool’s attacking options, Shelvey struggling to make an impact with the home side too often lacking numbers inside the box.
Shelvey was the only change for Liverpool with Rodgers having shown little inclination to overly tinker with his team, although this week’s resumption of the Europa League will again put a strain on his resources after the winter break from the competition.
Indeed, it may become the priority with even hopes of even a top-six finish fading from view.