STEVE Clarke believes having key central-midfield trio Youssouf Mulumbu, Claudio Yacob and James Morrison back in unison was crucial to Albion’s 2-0 Anfield success.
The Hawthorns boss was able to call on fit-again Mulumbu following a knee injury he battled with while representing DR Congo during the African Cup of Nations.
And he reckons having the three of them together in the engine room for the first time since the end of November helped bring the best out of the Baggies.
“Youssouf’s one of our better players,” said Clarke.
“If you go to any club and take out their better players then the team will always suffer.
“That’s not to say the ones who come in don’t do their shift and don’t do as hard as they can.
“It’s the first time in a number of weeks where I’ve had the luxury of having Youssouf, Claudio and James in the same midfield.
“And I think when you see them together, and everyone else is at it and doing their jobs properly, we‘re not a bad team – and we deserve to be in the top eight.”
Romelu Lukaku came off the bench in the 74th minute and took his Barclays Premier League tally into double figures for the season with Albion’s second goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
But Clarke was also quick to praise the man he joined in attack in a switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 formation – Shane Long – for the tireless work he did to provide the on-loan Chelsea striker with the platform to shine.
“Rom’s done well,” he added.
“He got the benefit of the hard work of Shane Long.
“Shane was on there and put in a hell of a shift for us, and then Rom comes in when the game is open.
“We knew Liverpool would eventually come chasing the game and we could pick them off.
“Fortunately for the first time this year it seemed to work.”