He sure gets them in bulk, doesn’t he?
Mr. Allardyce has a well-earned reputation as the guy who can mix it up with little teams against the big boys, getting that surprise result pretty much at any time, and today added another flourish to his fairly remarkable record in this department. Had you left at half-time – maybe because you had some errand to run – you could understandably be excused for having done so without any concern that Liverpool might somehow fail to win this. The Reds utterly dominated their opponents during those forty-five minutes. It often looked like a training grounds exercise where one team is attacking and the other is defending, the goal being to learn how to break down a stubborn but determined backline.
And yet, unlike a week ago at Selhurst Park, and to paraphrase Klopp, the boys apparently didn’t wear their scoring shoes. In the end, Liverpool only figured it out one time, and that ended up costing them two points.
Diogo Jota was missed today, and were it not for the ever hard-working and sharp as ever Sadio Mane, Liverpool might well have left the pitch with their first home loss in forever due to a lack of a finishing touch. Salah, for one, could have done a lot more with what he had, including a sitter of a header that instead went into the skies above the Kop. Firmino’s later attempt was much better, and were it not for an instinctive fingertip save from another Sam with a brilliant performance today, WBA’s keeper Johnstone, the game would have still been won in the closing minute.
Speaking of Mane, his goal was extremely well taken, and Matip’s pass was vintage Alexander-Arnold, whose own accuracy in the final pass today was disturbingly lacking. This has been a consistent problem for the Liverpool right back this season, and we can only hope he finds that precision again sooner rather than later. Ajayi’s late equalizer was also well-taken, and felt like it was coming from a mile away, but still required a fair bit of luck to go in; such is so often the case in games like this.
As for picking a man-of-the-match, my choice is not going to be a popular one. For one thing, it isn’t a Liverpool player. For another, the Baggies defender to whom I am giving it played his usual game, which included a fair bit of unnecessary theatrics, rather annoyingly so for me as a Reds fan. But I also must appreciate the fact that throughout this game, and especially during that first half, Darnell Furlong was constantly there in the right moment, to frustrate Liverpool’s creativity, irritate Robbo and Mane, draw a foul with dramatic flourish, and serve as a constant annoyance to the three-headed hydra also known as the Fab Three. It wasn’t an attractive display, but it worked, and for me, Mr. Furlong was the primary reason WBA went into half-time with something to play for.
Which they surely did.
Liverpool missed a chance to go five up, which would have felt like tying up the season early, but the team still sits top of the table. A bigger worry must be Matip’s groin injury, which was seemingly suffered for turning around a bit awkwardly, a sort of epithet for the rest of the game. Let’s just hope it isn’t serious.
(*) Americans will recognize this reference, but if you don’t, look it up