Remember when Sam Allardyce inflicted Liverpool’s last home loss in the Premier League
West Brom at home is not a game that scares many Premier League sides this season.
The Baggies are stranded in the relegation zone after taking seven points out of a possible 42 so far, and they haven’t won on their travels since a 3-0 win over Sheffield on Wednesday in July.
The game certainly wouldn’t scare Liverpool given the compelling home record the Reds boast about.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are in the midst of an unbeaten club record in the home league, playing 66 games without tasting a Premier League loss at Anfield – a run dating back to April 23, 2017.
Even the change in leadership West Brom invoked in December should hardly stress Liverpool’s loyalists. The Baggies pressed the Big Sam button in an attempt to get to safety, but for all his expertise in avoiding relegation, Allardyce’s record against the Reds isn’t the most illustrious.
The former England manager has played for Liverpool 30 times, losing 16 and winning just six times.
However, the last time he got the better of Liverpool – and the only occasion in his 29-year managerial career where he won a Premier League match at Anfield – was on April 23, 2017.
Allardyce’s Crystal Palace remain the last team to leave Anfield with all three points in the top flight after the former Bolton manager orchestrated a 2-1 victory – with 28% possession.
The matchday squads for the meeting are a telling reminder of the progress Liverpool have made under Klopp. The German had been in the hot seat at Anfield for just over 18 months and at this point they were pretty much halfway through the transition to the world-class outfit that Klopp would eventually cast them in.
James Milner was there because, of course, he was doing a left-back shift. Georginio Wijnaldum started in the heart of the Liverpool midfielder, Nathanial Clyne kept teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the squad, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho led the line alongside Divock Origi, and Simone Mignolet was in goal.
It was Klopp’s first full season in charge and the Reds were pursuing Champions League football. Before kick-off they were third, three points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, but the Red Devils had one game going.
For Palace, much of their backbone remained the same three and a half years ago, with Luka Milivojevic and Wilfried Zaha both initially, while they also had the luxury of bringing in Damien Delaney as that 83rd minute super sub.
The Eagles had been involved in a relegation battle for much of the campaign, with Allardyce – fresh out of his stint as England boss – parachuted to replace Alan Pardew in December.
The Allardyce effect had really taken hold in February as Palace won five of seven, including wins over Chelsea and Arsenal (a slightly larger achievement in 2017), to take control to avoid the fall.
However, it was Liverpool who struck first at Anfield, taking the lead after 24 minutes on a stunning Coutinho free kick from a distance. It would be the only shot on target the Reds would record in any game.
While Liverpool were sorely lacking a point, on the other end their former striker was spending the absolute time of his life.
Christian Benteke, one of the first victims of Klopp’s reconstruction project, had been thrown on the Anfield junkyard the previous summer.
Bought for £ 32.5million by Brendan Rodgers in 2015, the Reds opted to take the hit and sell it to Palace for £ 27million a year later.
Benteke grabbed a Yohan Cabaye cross from the right flank on the stroke of half-time and threw a half volley into the roof of the net with his left foot right in front of the Kop to tie the score.
And with 16 minutes left, a static Liverpool failed to face Andros Townsend in a wobbly corner, Benteke was about the only alert person in the penalty area and he easily escaped Emre’s attentions. Can before sending a head down in front of Mignolet.
It was a vintage Big Sam victory and the perfect return to Anfield for Benteke. Palace would comfortably survive relegation, but Allardyce left at the end of the season, while Liverpool found the loss so heartbreaking that they vowed never to lose at home in the Premier League again.
Will Allardyce work his magic and be the man to break the spell of Anfield?