Albion 1, Liverpool 5

Albion still have a healthy cushion over the Premier League's bottom three.

That is just as well, because a hectic period of challenging fixtures is exposing an awkward situation for Chris Hughton. How does he rest some of his key players?

Central defenders Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been mainstays, a remark which also applies to central midfielders Dale Stephens and Davy Propper.

Influential No.10 Pascal Gross (below right) has started all 15 games as well, veteran captain Bruno has missed only one match.

The Argus: The difficulty is potential deputies, such as Connor Goldson, Uwe Huenemeier, Beram Kayal, Steve Sidwell and Ezequiel Schelotto, are either injured, have been injured or seen so little meaningful game time that it would be illogical to suddenly throw them in.

It is one thing playing three games in a week in the Championship, another at the highest level where the concentration levels required and quality of the opposition are much greater.

Albion's third big game in eight days, after going so close at Manchester United and sharing the spoils with fierce rivals Crystal Palace, caught up with them.

It is no coincidence that the excellent performance at Old Trafford followed a two-week break and five days recovery from the home draw against Stoke.

Hughton, reflecting on Albion's biggest defeat ever at the Amex, said: "We had the highs of United at the weekend, a tough game here against Palace, and whether that had a little bit of effect - they certainly looked more energetic than we did.

"I thought we looked a little bit flat at times and, where we can be a good side in keeping possession of the ball, I thought that's as poor as we have been for a while in possession."

The biggest sides have the biggest and best squads, so rotation was not a problem for Jurgen Klopp. He made six changes from the midweek win at Stoke, some by choice, others enforced.

Liverpool's suspect defence had a makeshift feel, with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip missing through illness and injury,and Emre Can dropping back from midfield.

In that respect it was a good time to be facing them but they arrived in prolific, unbeaten form and Klopp's attacking options are frightening.

The Argus: He could leave Sadio Mane and Daniel Sturridge on the bench and still field a front three of Mo Salah, Phillipe Coutinho (above) and Roberto Fermino, who combined to provide the second and third goals with slick breakaways.

The first required no breathtaking attacking play. Coutinho's corner was headed into the roof of the net by Can, rising between Shane Duffy and Glenn Murray.

Until then, in the opening half-hour, Hughton's game plan was working. Liverpool had dominated the ball without particularly threatening and the best chance had been spurned by Murray, scooping high and wide on the turn from close in from Izzy Brown's low cross.

To concede in such routine fashion was infuriating for Hughton. He knew to have a chance Albion needed to score first.

Within 79 seconds the deficit had doubled, Firmino starting and finishing a move involving Salah and Coutinho.

Against the top sides, possession is bound to be limited. You have to make the most of the ball when you have it and take any opportunities on offer. Albion did neither.

Murray should have halved the arrears early in the second half with a close range volley from another pinpoint left-wing cross from Brown, which Simon Mignolet saved with his legs.

Seconds later the ball was in the back of Albion's net for the third time, Coutinho linking with Salah to set up Firmino again.

The Argus: Charitable refereeing by Graham Scott enabled Murray (above) to pull a goal back from the spot, his fifth in seven games, for the slightest of pushes by Jordan Henderson on Duffy from a corner.

Liverpool relinquished a 3-0 lead at Sevilla in the Champions League. They might have got nervy if the swivelling Murray had hit the target when well-placed or the impressive Brown's replacement, Jose Izquierdo, not been foiled inside the box by a fine block by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Instead the outstanding Coutinho, a magician with the ball at his feet, turned the scoreline from respectable to punishing.

He cutely drove a free-kick from the edge of the area under Albion's jumping defensive wall, then had a shot headed into his own net by Dunk.

The unfortunate Dunk is now one own goal away from equalling former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel's Premier League record of four in a season in 2013-14 after also scoring at the wrong end against both Manchester clubs.

Hughton said: "They've scored five goals and they didn't have many really good chances apart from that, which shows how clinical they were.

"For a team that didn't perform anywhere near our levels, we had three excellent chances, two from Glenn and one from Izquierdo, and didn't put any of them away.

"The players will have to learn from it. If you are not anywhere near your levels, particularly against a side like Liverpool, it (a thrashing) can happen."

At least the ever-presents now have a full week to regroup and prepare for a trip to Huddersfield, managed by Klopp's close friend David Wagner, which will have considerably more relevance in the context of the overall mission to stay up.