The Baggies performance at the Liberty Stadium was depressingly familiar as they succumbed to defeat at a struggling side while barely threatening the opposition goal, and it served to highlight the difficulty of the job facing Alan Pardew. As he prepares to face free-scoring Liverpool at Anfield, however, he could be forgiven for looking to concentrate on drilling the defensive formation rather than trying to sort out the misfiring attack.
If the performance against Palace was encouraging, that at Swansea was very worrying. The games against Newcastle, Palace and Swansea were supposed to me those which saw the Albion get back on track, but with just two points from those fixtures, it’s a good bet that Albion will be in the bottom three come Christmas and, with bottom club, Palace, now just two points behind the Baggies and all the clubs below them having recorded a victory in the past couple of weeks, Alan Pardew could find himself in charge of the league’s bottom club as he tucks into his turkey dinner.
Albion’s run of 14 games without a win is their longest in a Premier League season since the Great Escape season when there were fifteen games under three managers between the win over Bolton under Gary Megson on 2nd October 2004 and the one over Manchester City under Bryan Robson on 22nd January 2005. Robson was also in charge for the run of 13 winless matches at the end of the following season, which was extended under Tony Mowbray to 16, although there was a title-winning promotion season in between.
The next challenge for the Baggies is a trip to Anfield to face a Liverpool side that have scored 16 goals in their last four games, although Sam Allardyce’s Everton managed to find a way to restrict them on Sunday as they came away with a scarcely deserved point. One telling statistic is that Rooney’s penalty strike was one of only four touches that the Toffees managed in the Liverpool box all game. The Reds are unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season, but they have drawn half of those games including the last two. That statistic, coupled with Albion’s last game against a top four side at Wembley a fortnight ago, does offer a little encouragement for Baggies fans, but it would be a massive result should they come away with any points.
Not so long ago, Albion did record back-to-back wins at Anfield having not won there since the sixties, and they have managed to come away with two draws from the four visits since then, so the south side of Stanley Park may not hold the same level of fear as it once did. However, if you think 14 games without a win is a long run, remember that Albion went to Anfield no less than 22 times between the FA Cup Quarter Final win in 1968 and their next win just over 44 years later.
The Baggies new head coach, however, has won on his last two visits to Anfield, both with Crystal Palace, so at least he knows how to get a result at Liverpool!