Liverpool come away with yet another draw from their latest Premier League fixture with West Brom. Earlier in the season, Liverpool had managed an away victory over them when Firmino scored the only goal of the game to help Liverpool claim a 0-1 result and 3 points. This game looked very likely in ending in a 1-0 win this time, but unfortunately it wouldn’t happen by the time the full whistle had blown at Anfield.
This was the lineup. Not that it was very popular, I can practically hear the boos for the picture of it. Coutinho’s been made captain recently, with Henderson and Milner (who were regular captain and vice captains for much of the season) being thrown to the substitute bench quite often recently. Klopp may be considering making Coutinho a regular captain as a possible incentive to keep him loyal to Liverpool (even during the January Transfer Window coming up soon) but again, this is one of those things that makes some fans ecstatic and other fans go “what is Klopp thinking? that’s not right!”.
Jurgen Klopp has been rotating the squad (and we’ve seen him do that all season between various competitions so it’s nothing new) but right now, some of our own fans are unhappy about his team selections. There’s a couple of unpopular players who have made mistakes in important fixtures this season. Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno have had a lot of criticism and demand for their removal from the team, to at least be swapped out for someone else who’s been placed on the substitute bench with regularity. Some key players that fans may have wanted to see make the starting 11? Milner, Henderson, Gomez, Oxlade Chamberlain or even Simon Mignolet who is no stranger to Premier League fixtures – Karius has been mostly appearing in Champions Leagues fixtures, rotated with Mignolet for the Premier League fixtures.
A couple of Premier League games in a row with quite a while to wait until the Last 16 of the Champions League begins and Klopp seems to be thinking that he’ll just keep on swapping the goalkeepers around match by match, no matter what the competition is now. Mignolet had played and taken a slight injury in the Everton fixture on December 10th, getting a swollen ankle. Still, it’s reported that he’d been back in training in the past 3 days already.. Quick recovery from nothing very serious. The switch with Karius was not 100% necessary, it just seemed to suit Jurgen Klopp’s preferred tactics. We shouldn’t really complain much by the end of the game about Karius when he’s kept a clean sheet, though.
Sometimes – consistency is what fans want, rather than rotation and constantly changing squads. Klopp’s tactics will make some fans happy, and some fans infuriated. There’s no doubt we have got some of those infuriated fans, they’ve made their opinion perfectly clear this season after some unwanted results (usually the draws and defeats). Some fans have even gone as far as suggesting that Jurgen Klopp be removed from his position as Liverpool manager, with no specific replacement given but “anyone is better than Jurgen Klopp now” seems to be what they’re thinking. Not that I agree with them. I’m happy to keep on going with Klopp for longer, especially in a season where we are in the knockout round of the Champions League. We could go all the way to the Champions League Final, that’s not an exaggeration. It’s a reality. We’ll be one of the teams who could win and embarrass our opponents, maybe even score 7 goals against you! Ultimately, it would be bad (more like absolute CHAOS) to remove the manager that brought us that far from his position so suddenly at a crucial point. Even a new manager wouldn’t have any new players of his own, it’d just be Jurgen Klopp’s squad controlled by another manager. Pointless, really. Klopp has my full support, to the end of the season at least.
The West Brom game
Well, Liverpool started okay. Better than okay, but without getting any goals. We’d obviously not score in the first half, but we honestly seemed to be “dominating” – the West Brom defence was tried and tested consistently. It wasn’t going to be easy for them to claim any points from us at our own stadium. It seemed quite like Liverpool were attempting to win by a single goal, just like we had when we’d visited their stadium this season. Firmino had been the only goalscorer that time and he’d been placed right into the starting 11 by Jurgen Klopp so it was looking like an attempt to recreate the previous result where Liverpool had won by a single goal. If it had worked out I probably would have praised the tactics but sometimes, a “try to win 10-0, but end up winning 3-0” kind of tactics is better than attempting to win by one goal and then failing to score even once for doing that.
West Brom’s squad isn’t excellent or anything, posing very little threat in offense. They sat back for a lot of the game, defending and occasionally counter attacking. Karius was tested a few times, making what would be some essential saves by the end of the game because if any of the shots had gotten past him, we’d not even have had our single point from what wouldn’t have been a goalless draw. His clean sheet was important and I’m grateful for it.
Failure to capitalise on any of our moves towards the West Brom goal was part of why we would be left with no goals by the end of the game. Having said that, the match official really seemed to be against Liverpool in his officiating, making decisions that seemed harsh to be honest. We were playing against 12 men, including the referee.
The goal that was not a goal… or was it?
One of the most dangerous attacks Liverpool had was shortly after Dominic Solanke and Oxlade-Chamberlain had been substituted on from around the 76th minute, giving them about a quarter of an hour (including injury time). Solanke had gotten into a dangerous position and was ready to receive the ball. He’d jump to control the ball and in doing so, only really have the options of using his upper body to help push the ball into the net with. As the cross came in for this, there seemed to be TWO deflections made by Solanke. the 1st deflection was when it struck his chest firmly, he’s trying to push it down into the net intentionally and he cannot use his feet for this. The 2nd deflection is when the ball comes down from Solanke’s chest and hits his arm as it gathers speed and is making it’s way past the goalkeeper and into the net. Solanke’s hand isn’t touched, though we know that “handball” can be given for more than the use of a hand. Arms are a no-no too or it’s a foul. Certainly if it’s intentional. Therein lies the biggest part of the debate. I don’t think there’s any intention whatsoever by Solanke. He’s trying to CHEST the ball into the net. He doesn’t have any intentions of using his arm at all, even if it does slightly touch that part of his body. I’m not a referee but I certainly do know the difference between when someone is intentionally trying to break the rules (for creating an unfair advantage) or when they’ve accidentally broken a rule with no intentions of doing so. Solanke’s goal should have stood. He scored a legit goal that let’s be honest – was NEVER going to be saved by the West Brom goalkeeper.
He’d thrown his upper body at the ball because as the (rather fast and powerful) cross came in, it’s all he could do within a short timeframe for being able to score. The opportunity was there and he was going to take his golden chance to score. The ball accidentally touching his arm on the way down into the net? That’s bad luck and misdirection of a ball that was hard to control when not even using your feet. He’s a FOOTballer, not a CHESTballer. Give him a break and let him have his goal. He’s not a known cheater and that does matter. Reputation is often the strongest piece of evidence when debating whether a player has cheated or not. Do they get yellow or red carded a lot? Do most opponent’s fans talk about the player cheating in any given game or is this possibly the first time it’s ever been mentioned? I can’t say I’ve known a previous occasion of Solanke handballing so that he could score with hand (or arm) before. EVER. He very rarely receives any (yellow or red) cards from referees. That all points towards the fact that Solanke is not a cheater and that he did not deliberately attempt to use a part of his body that he knows footballers shouldn’t be using to score. I understand that referees are under a lot of pressure to make sudden decisions without any useful technology like action replays or even still images of the gameplay. But, missing here seems to be some common sense and understanding of a reputable player who is almost always committed to fair play and did not get given the benefit of the doubt as he scored a debatable goal.
This specific decision would effect the game’s result. Liverpool would have won 1-0 and taken all 3 points with that victory had Solanke’s goal counted. I wish I could be praising him for his “match winner”, which it certainly seemed to be to me and many others watching the match. All we can do now is try not to be too critical of our team (I know you’d prefer a win over a draw) as the disappointment sets in for a while. Look to the future and all we have lined up for us. We’ll play Everton in the FA Cup and FC Porto in the Last 16 of the Champions League. I’m already excited for these two games and more that’s on the way this season. Put the bad behind us and wait for the good to arrive. It’s coming!
Man of the Match
I’d have said this if his goal had officially counted and I’m still going to say this anyway. Dominic Solanke made an INSTANT impact on the game from the moment he was substituted in, opening up the West Brom defence and getting into dangerous positions where Liverpool would have the chance to get a goal. I still say he DID get a goal. Sure, the referee disallowed it but it’s never his intention to deliberately foul for making it happen and he puts the ball into the net, which was more than his teammates were doing. GOAL. The only goal of the game.
Firmino wasn’t scoring this time against West Brom. Salah strangely didn’t manage to increase his already impressive goalscoring record. The Magician (Coutinho) didn’t produce any magic football even while wearing the captains armband. Solanke out-performed them all in a short amount of time by at least putting the ball into the net. His efforts were greatly appreciated, even if we could only claim a point from this fixture.
Liverpool just played a home game and now we’ve got an away one coming up against Bournemouth. We go again!
Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80