West Brom took points off yet another top of the table rival as Liverpool were held to a lacklustre 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns. The visitors went ahead midway into the first half through Daniel Sturridge only for veteran defender Kolo Touré to gift an equaliser to West Brom via a powerful Victor Anichebe finish. It was a sour finish to a week which promised so much after the Merseyside derby win over Everton followed by the pursuit of talented winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. With the deal for Konoplyanka seemingly falling apart due to a lack of time, it was left to the Liverpool players to lift the club once more so the draw will be particularly disheartening.
The first half was slow to ignite and there was little in the way of chances with Liverpool seemingly slow out of the blocks aside from the hard work, determination and pace of Raheem Sterling who was operating on the right hand side of a 4-3-3 formation. The first goal was struck by the visitors and it was Daniel Sturridge who netted for his fifth consecutive Liverpool game in all competitions. The goal was easily the move of the game with Coutinho inviting Raheem Sterling to run in-behind the West Brom defence by threading a perfect through ball between the Baggies’ left back and left centre back. Sterling assessed his options before eventually laying the ball off to Luis Suárez who, by luck or by class, found Daniel Sturridge onside and unmarked at the back post where the England striker could simply tap in from less than two yards. The goal was Liverpool’s first on-target shot of the afternoon.
The first 45 minutes were rounded off with Luis Suárez curling a free-kick wide of Ben Foster’s right hand post before Zoltan Gera fired wide from just outside the 18 yard box. The second half started more brightly and West Brom had clearly been lifted by Pepe Mel’s halftime speech. Gareth McAuley forced a fine save from Simon Mignolet after connecting sweetly with a corner – Mignolet’s quick reaction save showing everyone why Rodgers has so much faith in him. This prompted a response and Liverpool came within a foot’s width of taking all three points when Luis Suárez harassed and wriggled past Diego Lugano and Gareth McAuley but Foster’s left boot saved West Brom with Suárez poised to net his 24th goal of a quite remarkable season.
Simon Mignolet made a second good stop of the game when he denied Chris Brunt low his to his right hand side following a powerful and low free kick from the West Brom favourite. However, with the game under relative control with neither side looking particularly threatening going forward, it was left to a huge defensive error to allow West Brom back into the game. Mignolet rolled the ball out to Kolo Touré who then tried to pass the ball across the edge of Liverpool’s penalty area. The Ivorian seemingly had not realised that Victor Anichebe was lying in wait behind Steven Gerrard. The Nigerian forward latched onto the ball and lashed home into Mignolet’s bottom right hand corner with consummate ease. One must question Liverpool’s medical staff with the Anfield men inflicted by so many injuries that both their left sided centre backs are out at a crucial stage of the season – both Agger and Sakho are comfortable with the ball and this mistake wouldn’t have happened with one of those left sided players fit.
The final chance of the game fell to Liverpool but Sturridge couldn’t gather Sterling’s rather straight looking through ball and Touré headed over Gerrard’s resulting corner.
A draw was a fair result with West Brom pressing and working stoutley to deny Liverpool the kind of space that they thrive on. The Reds will now look to bounce back by beating the league leaders Arsenal at Anfield at midday on Saturday.
Man of the Match – Raheem Sterling was by far Liverpool’s best performer with Mignolet possibly in second following his fine saves which denied West Brom on a number of occasions.
Match Stats and Ratings below
Are you from near the Midlands area? If so you should attend A Night in Birmingham with John Barnes, John Aldridge and Jason McAteer!
Former Anfield Index Podcast guest host Noreen Khan is the host and there’s a three course curry on the menu! All proceeds to charity!