Mowbray out to ruffle Benitez
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray hopes he has come up with a masterplan to outwit Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez and keep alive the club's survival hopes. The former defender has been trawling through DVDs of the Reds' games this week in a bid to find a chink in their armour.
Defeat for Albion will relegate them from the Premier League, but Mowbray knows that stopping Liverpool is a tough task for any team - let alone one propping up the table. "I know from what I have seen this week that Liverpool can really hurt teams with the way that they play," he said.
"If you come up with something then they can match it and come up with the answer and win. They played against West Ham recently who had nearly 500 passes against them, dominated the ball and lost 3-0.
"Liverpool weren't interested in how much of the ball they had, they just waited and waited and nicked it off them - bang, goal. You can't get through them, you can't hurt them, you can't have a shot. They can pass you off the pitch or sit back and counter-attack against you."
West Brom swept past Wigan Athletic 3-1 last weekend, but Mowbray knows they will have to play a lot better to pull off a win against Liverpool. "I think last week against Wigan we were too open," he said. "That was a game in which we gambled a bit to try to win.
"I think, with total respect to Wigan, Liverpool are a different animal. You have got be more cautious. They obviously play a different formation. Steven Gerrard plays in a position that can really hurt teams. You have got to have a game plan.
"Have we worked on tightening things up? No. But we have worked on a game plan to try to stifle their style of play but also to give us an opportunity to go and score and give them problems. That said, it is easier said than done as they have only lost two games this season."
Mowbray has been buoyed by the lack of negativity at The Hawthorns, despite the current predicament. "I sense the fans are still very, very positive about their team regardless of where the club is," he said. "I have been amazed by the positivity of the people I have spoken to.
"I think that is a great credit to them, how positive West Bromwich Albion supporters are in our current plight. This week, at functions I have been too, the fans continue to remain very, very positive about the team and the club.
"They remain positive about the prospect of staying up as we all have to. It is no good going to a supporters' club and saying, 'We can't beat Liverpool, we are down'. You have to go there and believe that you have got half a chance, and you can get a result if things go your way on the day."
Mowbray will not finalise his side until the eve of the match, as left-backs Paul Robinson (ankle) and Marek Cech (hamstring) need late fitness tests. He also has a decision to make in goal, with Scott Carson fit to return after missing the game against Wigan with a hand injury and Dean Kiely hoping to retain his place in the starting line-up.