First half strikes from Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho ensured Liverpool brushed aside West Brom at Anfield, despite a late consolation goal from Gareth McAuley making the Reds work for the win.
Liverpool 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
With both Tottenham and Arsenal dropping points earlier in the day, the Reds knew a two-goal margin of victory would ensure top spot . The return of Adam Lallana to the starting lineup gave the home side a much needed boost after their forgettable draw against Manchester United on Monday night, and the Englishman was heavily involved from the kick off as Liverpool went out in search of a sixth win of the season.
The midfielder showed nimble footwork to evade two players and get the ball to Coutinho, but West Brom recovered their bearings to get bodies in the way to block the Brazilian's effort. West Brom kept up their stubborn approach, happy to let Liverpool have the ball in the middle and defensive thirds, but not letting them get a sniff of fresh air around the 18-yard area.
With the goal, Liverpool found their rhythm and began to create opportunities at regular intervals, recycling possession efficiently and not allowing the likes of Rondon and Chadli to break. Clyne stormed down the right flank to beat two players, but his cross just missed a connection with Can for what surely would have been 2-0.
They didn't have to wait too long to double the lead though, as Mane got involved once more. The Senegalese's tricky footwork allowed Coutinho to surge in, selling the defender another dummy before smashing in at the near post. Tony Pulis cut a worried figure as the two sides walked off the pitch for half time, clearly with some work to be done.
Ben Foster's performance was a bright point for West Brom, as he denied Firmino on countless occasions with a string of fine saves.
|Image: Premier League|
First, Nacer Chadli poked off target from a corner, before James Morrison blasted over from a clear opening after the Baggies recycled possession from Rondon's counter charge.
With nine minutes remaining and the clock winding down, Liverpool's set-piece problems came back to haunt them again, as the ball bobbled up for McAuley to strike from close range from a Robson-Kanu's corner. Some nerves were jangled inside Anfield, as the Reds took a more conservative approach to closing out the game, bombing forward on occasion in search of a third goal.