Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool side have travelled a long, progressive path since the Northern Irishman took charge of his first Barclays Premier League clash, away from home at West Bromwich Albion.

On August 18, 2012, events concurred against the Reds at the Hawthorns and the manager's tenure kicked off with a frustrating 3-0 defeat by the Baggies.

Rodgers is currently preparing his team for a return journey to the same location, but from an altogether different position of strength - with the visitors fourth in the division after thrashing Everton earlier this week.

The boss told reporters on Friday: "We've grown. If I look back at my time here over the last 18 months, I look back at the first game we played against West Brom.

"It's ironic that we play them this weekend. Where we were at then, we had some talented players but we were very much an individual group.

"Over the course of 18 months, we've implemented a method to our play. We have become a team. We're understanding the game much better in terms of how we want to work and how we want to play.

"The important trait in any successful team is character, and we have got that in bucketloads. It's something that makes me very happy, but we've still got a way to go.

"I've been delighted with the players - their application and quality. As we saw the other night, it was an incredible performance in such a pressure game.

"To play to that level, with that focus and concentration, takes a really good side. The players deserve an immense amount of credit for that.

"You can only control your own performance. It's very hard to forecast; everyone expected us to win at home to Aston Villa, and we showed great character to come back to draw.

"People probably expected Chelsea to win at home against West Ham, who went there and put on a great defensive performance and got a draw. I think it will be like that throughout the remaining games.

"My focus is only on us and respecting every opponent that we play. We go to West Brom, with a new manager they will be very keen to get that first win, so we know it will be a very difficult match for us.

"We'll be ready and prepared. We're coming off the back of an outstanding performance and we'll look to carry that on into the weekend."

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Steven Gerrard opened the scoring with a powerful header in the 4-0 Merseyside derby triumph on Tuesday, and from there the affair was punctuated by further strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.

The latter added icing to a perfect cake for the home side when he capitalised on an error by Blues defender Phil Jagielka, raced the length of the opposition half and smoothly side-footed into the far corner.

"It was an outstanding goal," Rodgers reflected. "They tried to make a square pass just inside the halfway line, and probably for a lot of strikers the move breaks down just over the halfway line.

"But it's his cleverness and cuteness with the ball - his touch and then second touch takes him across Phil Jagielka, which puts him in an awkward position as a defender.

"You can see as he's dribbling, he's got half an eye on where the defender is and just keeps him behind. Luis is a strong runner with the ball and what doesn't get the credit is the finish.

"To run with the ball for that distance and period of time, to show that composure at the end to finish was outstanding. He got his goal, his work-rate was fantastic as well.

"We fit him and Daniel Sturridge into the structure of the team because we want to play an offensive game.

"Everyone talks about this partnership; I don't see them as that. I see them as two very talented individual players that we're looking to integrate into a team structure.

"Both of them were outstanding the other night. They have both got different qualities, but they both have a desire to score goals.

"Of course, when you have those types of players, they are hungry for goals. But we had a number of outstanding performers the other night, it's not just those two.

"Their job is to create and score goals; they do that remarkably well. But across the team, we were outstanding. Let's hope it continues."


Beating the club's neighbours from across Stanley Park will rank alongside a punishing 5-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur in December, and the manager is determined to coax more of the same.

The 41-year-old added: "It was a significant performance from us. We expect to win at home, no matter who we play against.

"Under pressure, this team has always been questioned about whether they can perform and play; the game the other night was a real pressure game for both teams, everyone talked about the significance of the game being the most important for 30 years.

"Having analysed the game twice, looking at the quality of our possession, the penetration of the team was exceptional, the quality of our passing was superb.

"People will recognise that we're a good side; we're still improving and we'll continue to play with that intensity and quality in every game we play."