Liverpool have scored 17 goals in their last five meetings with West Bromwich Albion, but manager Rafa Benitez admits he will settle for a narrow win when the two sides meet at Anfield on Saturday. Following a 16-match unbeaten start to the season, the Reds' players find themselves facing their first serious test of character this term after failing to win the last two.
Having conceded their place at the top of the Premier League table, courtesy of last Saturday's defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, Benitez's side were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
It could have been worse. They were on the brink of a loss until Steven Gerrard's last-gasp penalty, his seventh goal on the season, denied the Spaniards victory.
Gerrard will be confident of adding to that tally this weekend. It is 22 years since West Brom last scored against Liverpool, and 27 years since they beat the Merseyside club.
The Baggies have made an encouraging return to the Premier League since winning promotion under Tony Mowbray at the end of last season. But Benitez is aware their visit presents his side with a golden chance of reclaiming a three-point lead over Chelsea, who do not play until Sunday, at the summit.
"," said Benitez. "We have to be careful. West Brom have done well since winning promotion and they will make it hard for us."
Fernando Torres is poised to return after missing the last six games with a hamstring strain. Benitez, however, refuses to admit that the side has missed the Spain striker, yet the need to have the 24-year-old back was highlighted as Liverpool missed a string a chances against Atletico.
Robbie Keane, who has yet to score in the Premier League stage since joining the Reds in a £20.3m move from Tottenham in the summer, was at fault for one glaring miss.
Meanwhile, Mowbray has warned his Albion players to beware a Premier League backlash from Liverpool. He fears the defeat by Tottenham could fire up Benitez's side for their return to league action.
"Liverpool had a poor result at the weekend and they won't want to lose two games on the bounce in the Premier League," said Mowbray. "Especially at a time when they're near the top of the table and genuinely feel they've got a chance of making an impact this year."
West Brom's recent record against Liverpool has been poor, but Mowbray is confident his players will provide the hosts with a stern test this time. They are second-bottom in the standings, yet are just four points adrift of seventh spot. "There are no easy away games in the Premier League, as there should be no easy home games either," added Mowbray.
". You've got to hope they see West Brom as a home banker and try and prey on that, hoping their intensity is not quite there."