Liverpool 1, West Bromwich Albion 1
Liverpool: Sadio Mane 12’
West Bromwich Albion: Semi Ajay 82’
The task at hand for Liverpool could not be more straightforward throughout this festive period. They sit top of the table and have WBA, Newcastle, and Southampton for their next three. All three need to be wins, and that starts with a tricky opponent in WBA. The manager has gone strong with the lineup to give the team a maximum chance at three points. Naby Keita, who played 90 minutes in Liverpool’s last match against Crystal Palace, missed out on being included in the lineup because of a “fitness issue” according to Klopp.
West Brom did not come to play football. Big Sam set up his 10 outfield inside of their own penalty area and begged Liverpool to destroy them. Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a brilliant turn from a Joel Matip pass. The next 30 or so minutes of the first half was a war of attrition for Liverpool. They created chances well and pinned back West Brom, but it’s hard to score goals against 10 defenders. Liverpool had 82% of the possession. The PL record came in 2012 with Manchester City having 82.28% possession against QPR. Perhaps the most interesting thing to happen so far is the whining my dog has done as she begs to go outside.
The second half started a little more interesting with West Brom coming out of their shell a bit more because Liverpool had been sloppy in possession. Worrying signs for the Reds around the 55th minute as Joel Matip pulls up lame with an apparent groin injury and was replaced by Rhys Williams. The commentary at half time and during the second half has been all about how this is a Big Sam masterclass, and the narrative has been playing into it. Liverpool just didn’t get into the match at all in the second 45 minutes.
West Brom get their equalizer in the 82nd minute off a corner. To concede that corner was just awful. Curtis Jones makes a mistake that leads to Williams having to head it clear and then Liverpool don’t do well on defending the set piece. Klopp introduces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain right after the goal to hopefully spark on the team to victory.
Divock Origi is the final sub that Klopp uses. The team looked bright following the equalizer but they weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net.
You can’t help but be frustrated with this match. It was two points dropped and Liverpool had every opportunity to put distance between them and the rest of the table.