Situated on the broadcasting gantry within Anfield’s main stand, Oliver Miller offers his view on Liverpool’s Premier League match against West Brom.
A frustrating night at Anfield as Liverpool fail to break down a stubborn West Brom
For the second match in a row, Jurgen Klopp charged from the touchline directly towards the referee as soon as the full-time whistle was blown. If a contentious penalty decision irked him after Sunday’s derby, a handball ruling to deny Dominic Solanke his first Liverpool goal left him cursing another home draw. It is difficult to know who had the most trepidation at the final whistle at Anfield – referee Paul Tierney as the Liverpool manager sought his attention or TV interviewers seeking Klopp’s assessment.
West Brom were probably on the whole deserving of their point and would have been considered unlucky had Solanke’s 83rd minute strike stood. It appeared at first glance that the touch off the striker’s arm was the last before entering the goal, replays showed that was the case. Referee Tierney initial gave the goal before consulting with his assistant and awarding a free-kick.
“For me, it’s twice deflected and I’m still not sure if the hand was with the ball. It looks like chest,” said Klopp. It should be noted Klopp was more exasperated than furious with the officials’ intervention, although the greater cause of his bewilderment was that only four minutes of added time – one in the first-half, three in the second – was afforded to his increasingly desperate side. Many in Anfield felt like they’d only seen about an hour of football due to all of the stoppages and time wasting. However, maybe that was enough given the quality on the pitch.
West Brom’s defence – everyone except Salomon Rondon – did well in nullifying Liverpool’s attacking quartet; Jonny Evans and Ahmed Hegazi were dominant in the air and, in most cases, on the floor. Hal Robson-Kanu came closest to a winner when he struck the crossbar in the first-half, and Loris Karius – starting in goal due to Simon Mignolet’s slight injury – made two excellent saves at the start of the second, the latter from Claudio Yacob.
Liverpool dominated the possession – West Brom barely had a touch in the opening fifteen minutes – but it was wasted possession. Frustrating for the fans to watch. The changes that Klopp made – Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino returned – did little to differentiate this match from the derby on Sunday. Liverpool looked more threatening in the final stages as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain spurned opportunities, and Firmino somehow struck wide very early on. Mane’s performance suggested he is in need of a rest. For once the fab four failed to strike the right chord – in all honesty, they were completely out of tune.
The crowd grew frustrated then restless, there was little for the fans to get excited by – when the final-whistle came there was a sleepy atmosphere around the ground. That soon changed when the supporters exited Anfield into a swirling wind which both served to wake them up and make them slightly appreciate the difficult conditions in which the game had been played.
Alan Pardew followed the Big Sam blueprint – dropping his defenders so deep that goalkeeper Ben Foster was in danger of playing beyond them. Salomon Rondon was alone but diligent up front and the rarely used Grzegorz Krychowiak looked a class act in possession, replicating his days in a Sevilla shirt.
“It has made me feel a lot better than I was feeling last night,” said Pardew, acknowledging the psychological importance of moving out of the relegation zone even if West Brom’s winless run continues. Liverpool’s unbeaten run was extended to 11 matches but draws like this one do little to maintain momentum. Klopp admitted that his side appeared ‘stiff’ on the night although their ‘attitude was good’ – they certainly lacked the fluidity, composure, and arguably luck needed to get the victory.