Liverpool vs West Brom
Sunday’s marquee Premier League fixture pitted Liverpool against West Brom.
With Leicester, Manchester United and Chelsea having dropped points already this weekend, Sunday’s game represented a great chance for Jurgen Klopp’s side to surge even further clear of their title rivals.
Liverpool began the game-week sitting top of the English top-flight, aware that they would maintain such status even with a defeat to the Baggies.
In truth, though, such an outcome, especially at Anfield, looked extremely unlikely.
West Brom kicked off the weekend down in 19th place in the Premier League, having amassed just one win all season.
They were also in possession of one of the worst defensive records in the division.
As such, when West Brom managed to depart Merseyside with a share of the spoils, it came as a surprise to the masses.
West Brom started the clash in interesting fashion, aiming to overload Liverpool’s left-hand side.
The Baggies subsequently settled into a standard 4-4-2, with almost every man behind the ball every time Liverpool gained possession.
In turn, it was the hosts who, unsurprisingly, took control of proceedings early on, with Andy Robertson having enjoyed some decent success charging down the left flank.
It was in fact another of Liverpool’s defenders, though, who eventually proved key to the Reds breaking the deadlock.
Joel Matip, pushed well forward due to West Brom’s deep backline, lofted a pass over the top to Sadio Mane, who chested the ball down before smashing an effort past Sam Johnstone:
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 27, 2020
Mane then nearly added a second 18 minutes in, after almost getting on the end of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.
This was swiftly followed by the African heading wide from a deep Jordan Henderson delivery. And Mane continued to cause Sam Allardyce’s side all sorts of issues as the first-half wore on, with a solid interception from Darnell Furlong this time required to prevent the Senegalese from doubling his tally.
For all their dominance, however, Liverpool were unable to find a second goal before the interval.
And though West Brom spent pretty much the entirety of the opening 45 penned inside their own half, Sam Allardyce was likely quite happy to have entered the break within touching distance of the champions.
Half time: Liverpool 1-0 West Brom.
A total of 84% possession for the hosts but just the one goal. Allardyce will probably be the happier of the managers.
— Paul Gorst (@ptgorst) December 27, 2020
West Brom earn huge point
The second 45 began in much the same fashion as the first ended, with Liverpool on top. In turn, it took Henderson less than a minute to direct a decent shot at Johnstone’s goal.
West Brom then finally registered a shot on target 51 minutes in. But Karlan Grant’s tame effort was easily gathered by Alisson.
The signs continued to look more positive for the Baggies, though, as the visitors spent some extended time in Liverpool’s half.
As for the home side, they were dealt a blow just before the hour-mark, as the injury-prone Matip went down holding his groin, before being replaced by Rhys Williams.
Jurgen Klopp was shown a yellow card shortly after, after disagreeing with a refereeing decision surrounding Williams.
Liverpool’s next decent chance came 65 minutes in, when Mo Salah headed well over from a Georginio Wijnaldum cross.
Alisson was then forced to make a huge save with just under 20 minutes remaining, after Grant managed to burst through one-on-one with the Brazilian from a counter-attack.
The Reds’ no.1, however, was unable to deal with Semi Ajayi’s close-range header 81 minutes in, which bounced off the post and beyond Alisson:
West Brom get a well deserved equaliser from Ajayi’s header! Will there be a winner before full-time?
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 27, 2020
Curtis Jones was the man to have given away the corner which eventually resulted in West Brom’s goal.
But the champions couldn’t possibly pin the blame solely on their young midfielder, as Klopp’s men should have killed the game off in the first-half.
Credit, meanwhile, should be given to Sam Allardyce. Though his game plan was unquestionably boring, it eventually earned his relegation-battling Baggies side a huge point.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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