Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by West Brom and suffer their second defeat in two games after they had previously been going on an incredibly long unbeaten run up until the last couple of fixtures.
Jurgen Klopp made three changes from the last lineup, giving Simon Mignolet a chance to prove himself at a time when Karius has been the goalkeeper used more consistently aswell as Moreno and Matip being offered opportunities to get some valuable play time and a way to wow the fans at Anfield before he may rotate the squad around again.
This was not a “weak” squad, by any means. It had plenty of strength in it and nobody could have predicted losing to West Brom based on looking at the Liverpool lineup before the kickoff. Klopp had done his job sufficiently for giving us the means to go out there and progress in the tournament.
The game started well enough. Would you believe that Liverpool had taken an early lead in only the 6th minute? Firmino claimed the ball on the edge of the box after Salah had shown some clever football to make his way past a West Brom defender (Evans) get a shot off and thereby provide his assistance to Bobby who would soon after claiming the “saved” ball then shoot and score. Perfect timing to jump on the chance that came from Salah’s saved shot. Liverpool 1-1 West Brom
The fans at Anfield were still busy celebrating our 1st goal by the time West Brom had gotten a goal of their own. Yes, really. The 7th minute saw West Brom go to the center circle, kick off to restart the game, then push forwards quickly in a rush to react to Liverpool’s lead.
Brunt fed Rodriguez with a pass as he got into a dangerous position and Rodriguez allows the ball to run across his body before unleashing a ferocious strike from just inside the area that flies through the air like a fighter jet before ending up in the top corner of the net. Don’t bother blaming our goalkeeper for that one, there was no saving that powerful shot. If you really want to find out why we’d conceded then and who was most responsible for it happening you should probably look at the defenders who could have done more to close down Brunt and Rodriguez upon their moves towards our goal for shooting and scoring. Liverpool 1-1 West Brom
Man marking on Rodriguez was never good enough especially in the early periods of the game and it was proven yet again just 3 minutes later.
In the 10th minute, Krychowiak evades the challenge of Emre Can before regaining his balance and feeding the ball out to Gibbs on the left wing. Gibbs claims it and plays a ball right across the goal line to Rodriguez who was waiting to pounce at the far post and he has no difficulty of tapping it into the net from very close range. Tap in. Not happy that Simon Mignolet conceded 2 goals in 3 minutes but honestly, we’ve got to look to close down attackers with our back line of defenders and not just rely on Mignolet being able to stop everything that comes towards goal, because he can’t. There isn’t a goalkeeper in the world who would be able to save the tapped in ball from ending up in the net at such close range. Our defenders MUST do something to get in the way of the attackers or clearing the ball. That they haven’t done their job defending properly is part of why we’d gone 1-2 down at Anfield by the 10th minute.
With 80 minutes left to go, at least we had plenty of time to sort the mess out. Time was on our side. We knew we’d have to score again and nobody could say that we didn’t have long enough to do just that.
In the 25th minute, Liverpool could have had a goal from a penalty decision that was awarded. Salah went down inside the area and appealed for a penalty. Definitely not a dive, he was pulled to the pitch by a West Brom defender. Livermore seemed to haul him back and once the referee had decided to use “Video Assisted Referring” (VAR) he saw the foul for himself.
He’d then award the penalty and even booked Barry for protesting. The referee had made his call and would not accept anyone trying to change it, giving yellow cards out to anyone who’d try. Players should take note of this and save themselves from yellow cards the next time a match official wants to get assistance from 4th officials and use of VAR. You really cannot change the decision once it’s been decided upon. You won’t end up making the referee go back upon what was called and it’ll just get worse with your booking.
Anyway… back to the game and the penalty kick.
Firmino didn’t seem incredibly stressed. He looked to be handling the pressure of the situation well enough. He’d step up calmly for the penalty kick with no protest that he’d been chosen to take it (Salah was the one fouled, why wasn’t he chosen?) and would powerfully direct a shot towards the right hand side of the goal (as you look towards it). The ball smashed into the crossbar and the goalkeeper hadn’t needed to make a save at all. The crossbar did all the hard work stopping the ball from going into the net. No follow up shot for Firmino would be possible as when the ball rebounded out, the West Brom defenders were close enough to start clearing it to make sure they wouldn’t concede now. The score should have been 2-2 but going into the last minutes of the first half hour, Liverpool still were behind by a goal.
Liverpool kept going and going for the half time break. We attacked when we could but nothing to show for it in the way of goals. In fact, just about the time when all we were thinking of was heading to the team rooms inside of Anfield, West Brom went and scored again.
The 45th minute saw West Brom’s Dawson again down in an attacking position on the right wing, ready for assisting a goal with a cross most likely. It’d almost be a goal to claim for himself though as he volleyed a cross into the six-yard-box that would deflect off Matip and bounce into the net. WHAT? Now not just West Brom are getting goals, we’re scoring against ourselves. though maybe it was offside? Maybe. Maybe not.
Again, the referee decided that the decision required more attention and went to VAR to check video footage on whether or not Dawson was offside but on this occasion, Dawson is given the benefit of the doubt and the goal counted. Liverpool 1-3 West Brom
Liverpool would likely discuss who’d get a goal in the 2nd half during the break. Klopp wouldn’t need to say much except for expressing some encouragement. Surely the players all knew that this was cup competition they would be knocked out of if they didn’t win. The motivation is there, but the opportunities to score didn’t seem to be for the home side.
The 2nd half saw West Brom play more defensively. Almost copied from the famous Chelsea and Manchester United “parked bus” tactics used by Jose Mourinho, West Brom had a “bus” of their own to park and spent a lot of time just defending in efforts to stop Liverpool from claiming any more goals. It would be fairly effective though we would get one more goal eventually.
In the 78th minute, Alexander-Arnold swings a cross in using his left foot towards Firmino. It bounces off Bobby and falls perfectly to Salah who sweeps a calm finish into the bottom corner of the net. This could be a comeback? Maybe. If we’d also scored the penalty it’d be 3-3 right now. Unfortunately it’s only Liverpool 2-3 West Brom with 12 minutes and then some extra time left to play. Liverpool could only take their chances and try to claim one more goal. However it never came and the full time score saw West Brom progress into the next round of the FA Cup while Liverpool had to accept that their involvement in the competition was now over for the season.
This is a team that we’d previously beaten 1-0 and also drawn 0-0 with earlier this season. Being unbeaten against them certainly made Liverpool favourites to win, but as as can often happen with bets on the favourite, “the house wins” as nobody would have bet a victory for West Brom out of fear of losing their money. Not a safe bet for them. Money was lost by Reds fans, though. You’re welcome, Bookmakers! Don’t spend it all at once, we want to win our money back.
Man of the Match
Salah was the last Liverpool player to give us hope of NOT being knocked out of the FA cup. He’d been fouled to draw the penalty we were awarded earlier in the game and he’d scored near the end to start what was a potential comeback. Hardworking and determined, right to the end. He never gave up but the result just couldn’t be turned around for Liverpool. At least he tried his best.
Liverpool travel to Huddersfield for Premier League action. We’ve beaten them 3-0 at Anfield already this season but of course, that’s no guarantee that we’ll definitely win again this time around. Just keep confident and walking on with hope in your hearts. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[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 80s.