It has been a weird season. We are midway through December, sixteen games into the season, and Watford currently sit two places and a point above Liverpool ahead of their match next weekend. A point at home against West Bromwich Albion shouldn’t be celebrated but given the circumstances, it’s a good point. How important could it be come the end of the season?
Despite salvaging a draw from the jaws of defeat, you can’t help but feel pissed off at the fact we are five points off fourth spot having lost to Newcastle and drawing with WBA over the past two weekends. Turn those into wins and we would be level on points with Manchester United and only four points from top with momentum on our side. Can positives be taken from today or are we just reliving past mistakes?
Firstly, am I the only one that wasn’t a fan of Emre Can’s black boots? Never had him pegged as a traditionalist.
Liverpool find the back of the net once again. It felt like an eternity since those six goals went in against Southampton when in reality it was only two games ago. However, it’s good to nip that in bud early on as a goalless streak is something that can weigh heavily on the players.
Liverpool once again came from behind to get something from the game. It’s becoming a bit of a trend under Jurgen, isn’t it? The side go behind but manage to turn it around. He is slowly instilling confidence into these players and it can only be seen as a positive moving forward. If this continues there will be an aura of invincibility around these players. They won’t know when they are defeated.
The Liverpool defence isn’t as resilient as first advertised. It started off so well under Klopp. The team looked like it had remembered how to defend, but cracks are starting to show as the honeymoon period comes to an end. Liverpool aren’t just conceding the odd goal now, conceding two against Palace, Newcastle and now West Brom; hardly the most prolific of sides. And it immediately makes these expected wins a lot more difficult. On paper, those three games should have meant nine points for Liverpool and despite having played two of these sides at home, we find ourselves with a solitary point. It’s these results that will be the difference between finishing fifth or finishing fourth.
A Simon Mignolet error costs Liverpool. Again. Whoscored were kind enough to inform us all that over the past three seasons, no keeper has made more errors that have lead directly to goals than Simon Mignolet with eight in total. Goalkeepers are meant to be the positive difference when you are challenging at the top of the table, but the Belgian seems to be hindering Liverpool right now.
If a top level keeper commits and comes to claim the ball, then he should claim the ball. There’s no flapping. There’s no timid approach. You want your keeper to command his area and if that means taking out his own players then so be it. For the first WBA goal, there are no challenges on Mignolet and yet his indecision when going for the ball gifted the Baggies a goal. A confident keeper cleans everybody out of his way en route to punching the ball away.
Bogged down Benteke. I feel like a broken record saying this yet again but with Benteke starting, Liverpool seem too disjointed. This isn’t new either. It has been the case since he signed in the summer but his goals had detracted from his performances. Now the goals have dried up, it seems more people are starting to notice how very little the Liverpool number nine actually does.
Numerous times throughout the match, we witnessed the Belgian striker throw his arms around in disgust as Adam Lallana or Philippe Coutinho couldn’t manage a pass to him as he was stood behind three WBA defenders, making no effort to get into space. When the pass did come, he slowed the attacks down almost to a standstill at times. It was akin to your local pub striker deciding to play even though he’d had a heavy one the night before.
It’s not like the Liverpool side didn’t create anything for him either as he finished the match with six shots but managed none on target. To round off a miserable day, his pass percentage was a measly 68%.
Jordan Henderson’s goalscoring threat has been greatly missed. The captain made a welcomed return to the starting line up with a well taken goal. It was a goal we’ve not seen Liverpool score many times this season and it’s a goal Henderson’s fans expected him to score.
He adds another dimension to the Liverpool attack with those late runs into the area and it’s something Emre Can, Joe Allen and Lucas don’t offer. I don’t think many thought he’d be getting on the end of an Adam Lalllana knockdown (that should be what Benteke does) but it was a well worked team goal and it’ll no doubt be a boost for Henderson as he continues his recovery. His passing looked rusty but it’s a good ninety minutes for him to get under his belt.