Liverpool: Struggling West Brom Hold Reds At Anfield
An off-key Liverpool frustrated at home for the second time in four days...
What was supposed to be a fruitful festive period for Liverpool provided another early setback on Wednesday night via a stalemate against West Bromwich Albion.
After drawing with neighbours Everton on Sunday, it was once again a case of two points dropped at Anfield, in a game they were expected to win comfortably, for Jürgen Klopp's men.
There could be little questioning the German's selection decisions on this occasion though as key Brazilian duo Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho both returned in an attack-minded starting X1.
Perhaps unsurprisingly as the home side playing against an opponent in the relegation zone prior to kick-off, Liverpool took control of the contest from the off; dictating the tempo and setting up camp deep inside West Brom's half.
For all their possession and territory though the Merseysiders struggled to break the resolute Baggies down during the first half, with their best chance steered wide from a tightish angle by Firmino, following incisive link-up play from Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
Visiting keeper Ben Foster remained largely unworked, bar a speculative effort from the edge of the area by Coutinho, with the players in front of him more than proving their worth to new manager Alan Pardew, much like those of Everton had done for Sam Allardyce.
Unlike Everton though, the unfancied Baggies even had some decent moments going forward, not least when Hal Robson-Kanu struck the bar with a dipping strike from distance.
Stand-in Reds shot-stopper Loris Karius, playing due to a minor knock to regular No.1 Simon Mignolet, also had to be alert to tip over a Claudio Yacob header shortly after the restart as the visitors began to look increasingly dangerous from set-pieces.
At the other end Salah should have done better with a header of his own, while a below-par Mané sliced wide.
For the most part though the game preceded in much the same vain as the first half had; Liverpool having spells of promise but finding the creation of clear-cut chances difficult despite their constant probing.
With the game entering the latter stages the deadlock finally appeared to have been broken when substitute Dominic Solanke bundled the ball home from close range.
Unfortunately for the youngster, and a jubilant Anfield, the celebrations were curtailed by referee Paul Tierney, who, with the aid of a linesman, had spotted inadvertent contact with the arm.
In the final few minutes, Coutinho tested Foster and Solanke had a shot cleared off the line, but West Brom, who by this stage had even their substitutes joining in on some pretty blatant time wasting, remained commendably unbreached at the final whistle.
The result, which makes it five draws in nine at home in the league so far this campaign, was the first time Klopp's team had failed to score since Manchester United visited L4 in mid-October.
Analysing a frustrating night in which his side were a long way from their best, Klopp told his post-match press conference: "It was clear from the first second it would be a difficult game.
"It was clear what the job for us to do would be. It was clear that each set-piece will be a threat; our line-up was not the tallest tonight so it was clear they would try everything, even in their own half. They made a proper set-piece of it with a free-kick. But it was not too dangerous, we did pretty well.
"They had one proper situation when they had the header and Loris had to make the save. All the rest pretty much we defended well. Then we had the ball - that was maybe the main story of the game, we had it all the time.
"First half, it looked a little bit stiff, the timing of the movements was not the way it should have been, passing was not that good, a little bit too late, not quick enough. It was kind of a static formation very often; they had their formation and for us it looked a little bit difficult.
"But even in that half we had three or four not-too-big chances, I would say, and two chances we already scored off this season.
"The second half was better, we changed the system a few times and tried to bring them more trouble, which we did. We had good crosses, good chances and scored a goal which was disallowed.
"Obviously it was not a night for 3-0, 4-0 or 5-0. If you don't score early, that was clear. We were ready to work hard for this one moment, but it didn't happen so that's what we now have to accept. If you don't score in football, you always have to accept the result."
Next up for Liverpool is a lengthy trip to AFC Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon.
So that's what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below...
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