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West Brom 0, Liverpool 0: First Thoughts

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Liverpool fail to break down a stout West Brom defense despite carrying possession for most of the match and slip to a 0-0 draw at the Hawthorns.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

West Brom 0
Liverpool 0

  • Pre-match thoughts: Mario Balotelli gets his first start since NOVEMBER, people, while Steven Gerrard is preferred to Joe Allen in midfield. Where the various personnel would feature was a mystery pre-match, as it wasn't immediately apparent who would line up defensively or in the midfield. Potent-looking attack, however, with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho providing direct support to Balotelli and Jordon Ibe featuring as well. Alberto Moreno was out with an injury.
  • As it turned out, Brendan Rodgers went with a back four with Emre Can at right-back and Glen Johnson on the left, with Ibe pushed forward on the right and Sterling on the opposite flank. It almost reaped benefits in the first minute, when Ibe jinked and muscled his way through two defenders to put in a dangerous cross.
  • Dejan Lovren's long passing is a sight to behold if you're into masochism.
  • Good work by Balotelli to dispossess Claudio Yacob after tracking back, and his shot seconds later was blocked by an obvious handball from Gareth McAuley that wasn't whistled for a free kick. Liverpool retain the lion's share of possession, but few in the attacking third look as though they're on the same page.
  • Glen Johnson!
  • Some great work from Balotelli to win a free-kick in a dangerous spot just outside the West Brom penalty area, which was sent inches over by Gerrard.
  • A Balotelli snapshot was Liverpool's best chance over the next 15 minutes; the striker drifted wide and hit a half-volley after Coutinho bundled a ball his way, but the curling shot was a foot over.
  • Halftime thoughts: Liverpool absolutely dominated possession--nearly 80%--and conceding very little in terms of West Brom threats, but their play in the attacking third was miserable. Nobody was on the same page, and aside from a couple of close chances, there was little on offer. All told, a forgettable half of football.
  • The second half brought more of the same, with no movement up top and neither side looking particularly polished. It was a Tony Pulis best-case scenario until Liverpool finally got a shot on target in the 56th minute, with Boaz Myhill forced into two quick saves from Coutinho and Henderson on the follow-up.
  • West Brom nearly took the lead less than a minute later when Craig Gardner sneaked in behind a clueless Glen Johnson and volleyed into the side netting.
  • A surging run from Jordon Ibe and neat interplay with Balotelli led to a deflected shot by Ibe off the crossbar, which felt like an achievement considering how little had come before it. And as was the case earlier in the half, West Brom's response was immediate, with Dejan Lovren(!!!) clearing off the line from a James Morrison header after a failed clearance from Martin Skrtel.
  • This was not fun to watch.
  • Off came Ibe and Balotelli and on came Fabio Borini and Adam Lallana for the final 15-plus minutes as Liverpool chased the game, and it was clear that it was going to take something special to break the deadlock. Lallana instantly got involved on the left, exchanging passes with Henderson and forcing the issue.
  • Coutinho nearly dropped one in over Myhill on the volley as West Brom packed nine outfield players behind the ball. Lallana got a few clever touches in, but as was the case all day, nothing was on for Liverpool's attack.
  • A late West Brom flurry led to nothing other than a Simon Mignolet save, some hearts in mouths, and the suffocating realization that our lives are meaningless. Dejan Lovren missed a header.
  • Full-time thoughts: Watching a Tony Pulis side play against "bigger" opposition is just the worst. This match was the worst. We learn nothing.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.