Frustrating draw

Here is a way late recap of Liverpool/West Brom. More of my thoughts on a lot of things to do with the game or topics that I thought of because of this game.

The Reds went to the Hawthrones on Saturday and got a point. Before the game I kind of thought it may be what the result would end up being.

Liverpool has bigger things on Tuesday to look forward too, so I knew the team would be mentally looking ahead to that. Jurgen Klopp was playing a rotated side giving Danny Ings, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, and Joe Gomez starts so it was not the strongest side, especially the back 4 as Virgil van Dijk was the only Red that will be starting against Roma starting at the Hawthrones.

  • Liverpool defense

It looked to be all but done when Mo Salah scored his 31st league goal and his 41st goal overall to trail Ronaldo by one goal for the most goals in Europe in all comps in the 72nd minute. I mean this is West Brom they can’t score unless it’s a set piece so Liverpool isn’t going to blow a 2 goal lead in 18 minutes are they?

Spoiler alert they did. They gave up goals in the 79th and 88th minutes to blow the 2 goal lead and only leave the Hawthrones with only a point.

Of course afterwards a lot of the old questions came to light.

You know the questions. Why can’t Liverpool defend a set piece or they will never win anything with this defense.

The whole thing on Saturday annoyed me a bit. I wrote about this last week I think but Liverpool is a damn good defensive side since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk.

They have 10 clean sheets in their last 15 games. I really don’t think a poor defensive team would put up that type of defensive record, so for media members who get paid actual money to cover this game are writing or tweeting things about Liverpool’s defense are being down right lazy and have no clue what they are talking about.

Sure, I won’t argue with you Saturday was poor and if you watched the entire game you had to see it coming. Honestly if West Brom had any skill they probably would have won easily Liverpool was terrible in this game.

But it was a game that Liverpool treated like a training session and West Brom gave maximum effort. You see this team has no skill at all and basically run around like idiots or like chickens with their heads cut off and this is the type of game that this type of brutal football could work because like I said Livepool was treating this like a training session and no one out there came close to matching West Brom’s energy.

Back to the defense. Even if Liverpool had their normal back 4 I would just chalk it up as one of those games. I don’t know about y’all but when I am evaluating or analyzing a team I tend to look at large sample size of results and performanes to judge teams instead of using their last 15 minutes which happend to be poor to form my opinion of someone.

But in England this is the way they do things whatever happened in the last game is what you are until the next game when the same people change their entire opinion of someone so alot of these “experts” change their opinions about a team 400 times over the course of a season. Hell it happens over the course of games too. Listen to the commentators on a weekend if a team scores to go two goals up in the 70th minute they go “surely they have secured all 3 points now” or if a team scores a go ahead goal in the 85th minute they do the same thing. It’s like they have never seen a comeback in their lives before. I don’t understand what it is about them that they are so ready to call the game over. It may be a cultural thing but it just seems like making those proclamations are so important.

They do it with the relegation or top 4 races too. Last week when Chelsea drew with West Ham they were surely done, but this week when they beat Burnely to close the gap with Spurs to 5 points all of a sudden the top four race is back on. Why can’t these people just wait for it to be actually over to say that it’s actually over.

This is the exact thing that happened with Liverpool on Saturday. Because they blew a two goal lead now all of a sudden this team has problems again defensively. Maybe it was because it was one game and shit happens in one game all the time, it doesn’t always have to have meaning. When you play 38 games a couple times over those 38 games shit is going to happen or maybe it was because Moreno, Klavan, and Gomez were playing with van Dijk. It isn’t always saying something about your team. I don’t know about you guys but that annoys the hell out if me.

  • depth

If anything that this game said to me was that the depth on this team isn’t good enough and it needs to be upgraded over the summer, sure some of the depth issues right now are because of injuries but some of it is because the quality isn’t good enough.

I know he had a good start to the season but I’m done with Moreno. If he doesn’t get injured and he continued playing the way he was playing does Andrew Robertson get the chance and I will say this now if it was Moreno playing left back all season and not Robertson this team wouldn’t be getting ready for the semifinals of the Champions League.

Moreno is good at going forward there is no question on this but his football IQ is about as low as any player on this team and he is way too mistake prone to rely on for a long period of time. Getting a back up for left back behind Robertson has to be a top priority this summer we need more quality. I am fine with Gomez at right back behind Trent Alexander-Arnold I would think next season TAA should be ready to take the reigns full time, plus Gomez versatility being able to play right back and center back is great value for then team. I am not sure what Clyne’s future is but even here I wouldn’t hate someone being brought in.

Klavan has had a very good season to be fair and Matip is a decent third choice at center back, plus like I mentioned Gomez being able to play there in what is his more natural position but center backs are obviously important to a teams success. Obviously before van Dijk this was the teams weakness but now seems to be fine. Lovren has imporved big time playing with van Dijk but I wouldn’t hate something else here. Either a starter to push Lovren or a really solid backup.

Danny Ings scored Saturday which was a real feel good moment for the him after all he’s had to overcome just to get on the pitch but at the same time seeing him play against Everton and West Brom it is very obvious that this is a huge area that needs an upgrade this summer. Dom Solanke has a bright future and I’m excited for what he can be down the road but he’s still not ready if you ask me and Ings just isn’t good enough so this needs to be addressed because if Firmino would go down this team would have serious issues.

Midfield is where they have some depth now and with Naby Keita coming in it should be deeper but the likelihood of losing Emre Can and replacing him with a more natural ball moving defensive center mid that spot should be sorted out but I would like to see another attacking mid. I like Adam Lallana and when healthy he’s got great quality but I can’t trust him at this point.

This team has grown greatly under Klopp the results this season speak for themself. Each season the squad has gotten stronger. There are some areas in the best 11 that need to be addressed no doubt but at the same time depth is critical for this team to compete in all fronts. If they want to make another Champions League run next season, compete for a league title and to be able to go for a domestic cup trophy depth is a huge thing needed this summer.

  • Top 4

Had they won against West Brom they would have been one win away from securing the top 4 finish, but by not doing it they find themselves 4 points from locking this up. Some people will say 5 but it’s really only 4 because finishing even with Chelsea will be fine due to a superior goal differential.

When people were calling this over a couple weeks ago I was hesitant and said these games were still important but at the same time I have no issues at all with the approach on Saturday. Getting to the semifinals of the Champions League is very difficult to do and you never know when you may get back to this point so unless you absolutely need to win the game prior you need to get your team to be best prepared to play that semi.

At the same time the top 4 race isn’t over. They have an 8 point lead with 3 games left. Chelsea has a game in hand so that could be down to 5 rather quickly and they do play the weekend after the second leg against Roma so you see where I’m heading here, the lead could be down to 2 points.

The other two games are against Stoke and Brighton. Stoke is this weekend between the Roma games it is at home but Stoke is in desperation mode needing to win that to basically have a chance to stay up but with the lack of depth and the likelihood of Liverpool playing a heavily rotated side it won’t be easy.

I still think they’re fine but not winning this one against West Brom does open the door up a little for Chelsea. Their 4 games are at Swansea this weekend. Swansea is safe for now but needs points so they will be desperate like Stoke. Then it’s Liverpool at home which they will have to win, then it’s midweek at home with Huddersfield, and then they finish the season at Newcastle. I expect Huddersfield and Newcastle will both be safe by then so as long as they beat Liverpool winning all those games shouldn’t be a tall task. Chelsea still has flaws but with Olivier Giroud playing the way he’s playing a team that looked dead looks like they righted the ship.

I still think Liverpool will be fine but at this point I wouldn’t be shocked if they have to beat Brighton to finish in the top 4 .

  • Klopp’s tactics 

I had no problem with his lineup choices or rotating like I said but something Klopp did on Saturday is something he’s done quite a few times this season and on quite a few occasions it hasn’t worked which is going to 3/5 in the back to close out a game.

When Klopp took Salah out in the 84th minute he brought on Dejan Lovren and went to 3/5 in the back to close the game out.

This team has gotten much better defensively like I ranted about earlier but when they sit back too much they usually run into problems.

This team is much better when they are in attack mode and simply having better players on defense make them a better team in the back, but when they go into all out defend mode they have struggled.

I don’t get it here. Yes, West Brom got one back and were applying pressure but this team is a team full of plumbers, they don’t exactly have a ton of talent, the only way they score is on set pieces so by sitting back you’re just putting yourself in a position where they get more set pieces.

Sure the equalizer came off a terrible call that gave them a free kick right outside the 18 near the sideline, and they did a poor job defending the set piece. Karius was poor on it and it was a complete mess from multiple people but again I think if Liverpool played their normal game they may have had an eaiser time holding them off.

I know part of this was wanting to get Salah out of there and not having a ton of depth doing much else but it’s not their best way of closing out a game.

They are a good team defensively and you have to have different options on how to close a game out depending on the opponent but parking the bus isn’t something this team is good at.

  • Ref

I’m not a blame the referee for everything kind of guy. Honestly it annoys me when I look at Twitter and every fan of every team in every sport think every announcer and every ref is against their team. Newsflash they aren’t. Even fellow Liverpool fans who think every ref is against them and it’s some conspiracy, annoy the hell out of me because it’s far from reality.

But this nitwit from Saturday was bad. Stuart Atwell did not have a good day. From not wanting to dish out cards to missing a clear penalty and giving West Brom the free kick on a play that wasn’t a foul late clearly cost the Reds.

I am not blaming Atwell for the loss of points. Liverpool did not play well. Salah despite scoring did not have a good day for his standards. Mane wasn’t great and Jordan Henderson was not that good. For a large part of the game the Reds couldn’t string together more than one pass. They all were a bit off.

I thought the best Red was James Milner who continued his fine form and was fantastic again in this game.

West Brom is very limited but they wanted this game more. They were working their asses off from the beginning of this game till the final whistle. They were jumping in passing lanes, they made every tackle, and got to every second ball. To be honest they probably deserved more than a point, but this is what happens when one team is playing like it’s a cup final and the other team is treating it like it’s a training session.

So, don’t blame Atwell for the outcome. Liverpool had plenty of chances to win this without his terrible refereeing. Ings missed a sitter and they had a two goal lead, so that was enough to get the job done. But no doubt it pisses you off when you play against no talent clowns who just run around and play physical. Hegazi fouls and punches Danny Ings and somehow it’s a foul on Ings. With how physical West Brom was playing I have absolutely no clue how the Baggies didn’t get one card. They committed 12 fouls to the Liverpool 5 and those were the ones they got called for. And then the missed penalty was criminal. That is a penalty all day every day but no call.

Atwell is just another example of poor officiating from English refs.

  • West Brom

Like I said they deserved the point and probably deserved more so kudos to them but at the same time I am glad they are gone from this league soon.

I know British people love to applaud teams like West Brom more than they applaud skillful teams like Man City and Liverpool and love to root for the upsets. Hey it’s fine people here love the upsets in the NCAA basketball tournament and don’t seem to have a problem when the Final Four is shit because of it. But maybe this thought process is a bigger problem as to what’s wrong with football in England and why the national team never has success .

West Brom is the sterotypical British team. It’s a bunch of guys with no talent that play as a team, they work their faces off, never stop running, never miss a tackle, and this gets applauded as it should. This stuff is all well and good but really anyone can do this it doesn’t take talent.

Not one player stood out to me on Saturday. It was just 10 outfield guys doing the same. Yes, guys like this get the crowd into it and they are easy to root for but it takes no talent or skill to play this way.

This seems to be something that is emphasized more in England than the talent. Maybe if they emphasized skill more than emphasizing guys that play like West Brom plays they would have a better national team and actually have a chance in the World Cup. It’s all the same.

Personally I am glad they’re gone from the league. I know I would rather watch Stoke or Southampton play any day of the week over West Brom despite all their flaws. I mean hell the only way they can score is on a set piece because they don’t have players that can string passes together to score a goal. But hey in England this stuff is cool its much better than all that fancy stuff.

West Brom has scored a grand total of 29 goals this season 13 from set pieces, 13 from open play, 2 from counter , and 1 from a penalty. Which is typical from a team with no talent. On set pieces it’s just about working harder on a lot of occasions.

It’s why they struggled so much under Alan Pardew he wanted them to actually play football, which is where he failed. They don’t have the ability to do that. It’s why now under caretaker Darren Moore they have played much better than they did under Pardew. He’s not trying to play football he’s letting them just go work their tales off which if you don’t match their intensity they can beat you even if you’re better than them. They make it tough on better teams. I mentioned this in my preview if they played like this all season they probably wouldn’t be going down, but I am so glad they are. I want to watch teams  who play football not the football I played in the States in high school.

  • Closing

This wasn’t Liverpool’s best effort this was a poor performance even the better players were poor. But a point in the whole grand scheme of things is fine. Yes, I was hoping they would get a win so top 4 was all but locked up. They now gave themselves some work to do which should he fine but not optimal. The ultimate goal was to get the game over with and not get anyone injured and when you’re playing against a team that played as intense as West Brom did Liverpool was always going to have a tough time trying to play the way they did. If they didn’t have Tuesday on the horizon I would have been livid about this but they get a free pass because there are bigger fish to fry right now.