Liverpool 1-1 West Brom: Winners and losers as Reds throw away two points with lacklustre showing

Jürgen Klopp’s side were left with egg on their face as they dropped points in the title race, after Semi Ajayi’s header earned Sam Allardyce his first point as West Brom manager. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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After the brilliance against Crystal Palace last week, Liverpool where swiftly brought back down to earth with a disappointing performance that will thoroughly upset many with the nature of the display. 

After the extremely clinical nature of the events eight days ago, the Reds failed to reach the heights of that showing as they struggled to convert chance after chance that was created. Instead, they left the field feeling dejected and upset, knowing that it was a game that got away. 

The result leaves Liverpool three points clear at the top of the table, having been narrowed from five at the start of the weekend, with several fixtures coming thick and fast during this festive period of football. 


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The Reds started brightly and managed to get on the front foot relatively easily, and took advantage of this fast start after ten minutes. With Matip given time to scan the options ahead of him, he fired a pass into Sadio Mané who expertly chested it down before volleying past Sam Johnstone. 

It was the start that Liverpool deserved but unfortunately, were unable to capitalise upon throughout the remainder of the game. Opportunities came and went with Reds either failing to test Johnstone or narrowly missing on applying the finishing touch to a move. This clearly frustrated Klopp as he knew this could come back to bite them later in the contest. It did. 

After a mindless piece of play from Curtis Jones giving West Brom a free corner, Semi Ajayi leapt the highest to power a header beyond the helpless Alisson Becker. The game plan that Allardyce had set out had worked a treat and even though it was clear to see, Liverpool were still unable to prevent it from happening. 

At the final whistle it was apparent to see upon fans and players that despite the point, it felt like a defeat. Liverpool had dominated the game in every department but had failed to convert. The result had further negativity attached to it, as Matip came off injured with an abductor injury which looks likely to keep the 29-year-old out for a significant amount of time.  

This result is a display that many fans have seen countless times before. Hopefully the Reds can bounce back quickly as they travel to St James Park on Wednesday to face an under-pressure Newcastle United. 

Klopp made two changes from the side who defeated Crystal Palace in the last outing. Curtis Jones and Mohamed Salah returned to the starting line-up, with Takumi Minamino and Naby Keïta (fitness issue) dropping out. 

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

Sadio Mané

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The bright spark of the Reds displays. He was at his unplayable best in the first 20 minutes, causing serious problems across the entire West Brom backline. He took a particular liking to Darnell Furlong who found himself on the floor consistently as the Senegal international breezed past him. 

His goal was taken brilliantly, bringing down a pass from Matip that was delivered around his throat. After the beautifully taken chest control, he pounced upon the flighted ball, blasting it into the bottom corner with supreme precision.  

He continued to be the Reds number one forward presence, as every time he had the ball you could sense something happening. West Brom recognised this at half time, with Allardyce clearly directing his side to have two men marking the winger. This did restrict him somewhat, but he still managed to create chances for his colleagues which thy would proceed to waste. 

Two goals in two games for the winger has the rest of the league on notice. A return to form for Mané is perfectly timed, with Salah and Firmino both currently on a positive run themselves. His defensive work is also outstanding and not going unnoticed as Robertson clearly appreciates the cover. It was just unfortunate that he was the only one out of the front six players who had a memorable contribution against the Baggies.

Losers

Curtis Jones

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It was a day to forget for the 19-year-old who cost the Reds dearly with his mistake. His all-round performance was well below the levels we have seen from the teenager in recent weeks. He failed to recycle the ball effectively in the middle, whilst he was unable to perform offensively at all for his side. 

His dribbling is an imperative department of his game in which he relies heavily upon. Against West Brom he lost possession during his attempted dribbles and failed to regain possession, leaving it for others to do instead of taking responsibility. This might have been a tactic from Klopp to keep him pushed up the field, but it didn’t look great him letting opposition players get past him with ease. 

The main take away from the game will be his mistake for the Baggies goal. Under no pressure, he decided to take too many touches and make an exaggerated pass back towards the recently subbed in Rhys Williams. The Englishman was unable to gather the ball as it was fired back at him and the ball subsequently rolled out for a corner. 

West Brom took full advantage from this position of strength as Ajayi made the Reds pay for not taking chances and giving them a free corner. Jones was immediately substituted after the mistake, knowing that he had cost his side significantly with his inexplainable error. 

With Thiago returning in the next week, Jones’ place in the starting line-up will be under pressure with the Spanish international itching for game time. If he is to the remain consistently in the starting line-up, he will need to eradicate mistakes such as these from his game, which I am extremely confident that he will do.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold

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The right back had a testing evening that resulted in him being completely ineffective throughout the 90 minutes. The stalwarts of his game, his passing and crossing, were off as he failed to connect with any, whilst defensively he struggled, as Grant and Diangana physically dominated him on any attempted counter attack. 

With Robertson having a lot of success in recent weeks, it is important that the England international got himself up and running to provide that dual threat, that would push back the opposition wingers. With Trent having a poor night, Diangana was advised to push forward in the second half which tactically made the Reds right back retreat, wary of the potential of any counter attack. This tweak from Allardyce meant he was unable to do anything until the final few minutes. 

Alexander-Arnold will be brush this off and go again on Wednesday against Newcastle. With the Magpies struggling, in particular down the left side which got blitzed against Manchester City, the defender will fancy his chances in making some meaningful contributions at St James Park. Fingers crossed he can provide a positive display.


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