So after the hugely disappointing result Monday night against Manchester United, Liverpool quickly got a chance at home again to resume the type of football the team had been playing recently, and hopefully score a few goals along the way to gain the three points today.
The opposition in West Brom had been somewhat of a thorn in our side of lately with Tony Pulis determined to stick to his own style that makes his teams hard to break down and good at set pieces usually. In the last four games they had drawn three and won one. So today was going to be a test again against a team everyone expects to come to Anfield and drop deep in numbers and invite the hosts onto them.
As for Liverpool Daniel Sturridge was dropped after a poor performance against United but mainly due to the availability of Adam Lallana from the start for this game. So the team has the familiar look again up front with Sadio Mane, Phillipe Couthino and Roberto Firmino and the only other change saw Emre Can keep his place in midfield presumably as Georginio Winjaldum was not fully fit as of yet.
As the game kicked off both Arsenal and Tottenham had only drawn earlier in the day, dropping points. This was the type of game Liverpool needed to win as in the past when our closest rivals always dropped points we always seemed to blow the chance to take full advantage of that. With United away to Chelsea on Sunday this was a great chance to take full advantage today. A win by two goals or more would take us to the top of table.
So after a week off of no doubt watching video analysis and a lot of hard work on the training ground Jürgen Klopp’s team showed again just how entertaining and dominant they can be. For this was a first half totally dominated in every aspect by the home team. With two goals and all the chances and possession it was all West Brom could do to muster themselves forward for a few very poor set pieces.
The first goal came on 19 mins when James Milner broke out and played a pass to the feet of Couthino in midfield who simply let the ball pass him by to the on rushing Emre Can who burst forward and played a slide ball down the left channel for Roberto Firmino to cross an inch perfect ball to the back post where Sadio Mané simply side footed the ball into the goal making it look all too easy. It was an inch perfect finish and an inch perfect goal in every sense of the word. Beautiful movement at the heart of it.
Liverpool’s second goal came in the 35 minute after a poor back pass from Darren Fletcher put his goal keeper in all sorts of trouble who could only manage to hoof the ball high but not far enough away as the dropped ball ended up at the feet of Coutinho who simply jinked inside past two players and shot low to the goal keepers near post to score his fifth of the season.
It was a first half of total movement from a midfield trio of Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Can that saw total domination and a huge amount of ball going forward into the front three to work their magic. Adam Lallana was again superb in every aspect. Hunting down the opposition, spraying passes and running everywhere to the extent now that when he does get the ball the whole of Anfield rises in expectations to see where he goes.
At the back although there was not a lot to do Joël Matip was again showing his class and confidence on the ball. Loris Karius was today quicker with his distribution and more decisive giving out to his full backs easily and promptly.
A first half where everyone played well to the point that on 38 mins Liverpool had 8 attempts on goal 2 on target which were converted but West Brom couldn’t manage even one.
No changes for the home team at half time naturally enough having played so well. The second half was more of the same from Liverpool for large durations with the exception of conceding a sloppy goal from a corner that we failed to clear and the secondary ball somehow bounced off McAuley’s shoulder in front of Karius allowing him to smash it him for a surprise goal against all expectations I think from even the travelling fans at Anfield also.
Liverpool had several good chances to kill thus game off from Firmino, Couthino and probably most clear cut of all a well blocked shot from Emre Can in the box when he looked certain to score after some fine work from Couthino in behind and picking out Can. Dejan Lovren had a fine header saved also by Foster heading for the top corner as well as Roberto Firmino having yet another shot blocked when he looked certain to score.
After West Brom did score they had some applied pressure high up the pitch and nerves seem to set in again for Liverpool even so we still had a couple good chances late on to get that third goal and clear two goal win that would have seen us top of the table tonight. As it is we will only miss out tonight on goal difference.
Klopp sent on Lucas Leiva and Divock Origi late on to shore up the midfield and keep the pressure up front.
A win against a Tony Pulis team has been long coming for Liverpool, apparently fuve years now so I will take it although slightly disappointed not to get the second clean sheet in a week it’s a win and three points again.
Phil Coutinho was my man of the match for his goal and all round drive and control of the game especially in the first half. A special mention again also goes to Adam Lallana who on being taken off on his 100th appearance for the club again was afforded a standing ovation and rightly so. He has become the player under Klopp that we all hoped he was when we bought him a few seasons ago. Looks money well spent now.
On we go to a run of games starting away at Crystal Palace next week that should see us pick up a lot of points and cement our place around the top of the table while our rivals have a few games to contend with against each other now. Top of the table (almost) after playing some of the top teams away and some bogey teams looks pretty good at this moment in time in my opinion. The fluid rotational football of our midfield and front three is amazing to watch and is turning a lot of heads and scaring a lot of teams right now. Hopefully this will only get better and more clinical in future games against so called weaker teams.
After one year in charge Klopp has totally transformed this team into a feared unit of unselfish totally committed players and he has another transfer window coming soon too.
Last season in this fixture Klopp took his players to celebrate in front of the Kip after a late late goal to grab a point. Today the Kop celebrated with Klopp a destruction of that same team if not on the scoreboard but all over the pitch.
Written by @StephenKing75