Two games, two referee decisions that went against Liverpool, four dropped points. With Liverpool’s finishing running cold, it’s felt as though more has hinged on the officials than is normal as the club dig into their busy holiday fixture list, and fans, the manager, and player are quickly starting to feel a little hard done by.
“I think it was very unlucky,” reflected striker Dominic Solanke following the draw against West Brom that saw what would have been his first goal for the club disallowed due to a handball. There’s a case it was—ball struck underside of upper arm off a quick ricochet before finding its way into the back of West Brom’s net.
Yet by the rules, it seemed to lack intent—it was ball to arm and not arm to ball, and besides, Solanke had had no time to react to the ricochet. His arm was simply there. It was a call that, whichever way it went, one side or the other would have felt wronged. In this case, for the second game in a row, it went against Liverpool.
“There wasn't much I could do,” he continued. “The defender kicked it onto my chest and I tried to chest it but it’s clipped my arm. The referee disallowed it but it’s very unlucky. I thought he had given it. I was celebrating for a while. I don’t know what changed his mind, but then he changed his mind. I thought I won it.”
Solanke’s disallowed goal came during a frantic spell late in the second half as Liverpool pushed for the win, a spell that despite their struggles to find their attacking footing in the first half meant that by the game’s end they seemed to have done enough to deserve a victory. Much like against Everton over the weekend.
If there’s one silver lining to be found in the four dropped points, then, it’s that the team are still creating good enough chances to win games—first half against West Brom aside—and now they’re defending well enough to expect to, too. Things certainly aren’t perfect right now, but they aren’t all that far wrong, either.
“It’s always hard when a team tries to play so defensively, you have to try to break them down,” Solanke added. “We had a few chances which we didn’t take. It was always going to be difficult but we have to learn from it.”