Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by West Brom at the Hawthorns and it pretty much ends their hopes of a top-four finish.
Going into the game, there was a lot of pressure on Brendan Rodgers’ shoulders as a disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of Aston Villa had ended the fans’ hopes of lifting silverware this season. There was still some hope of an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League had they picked up a win and Manchester United were to drop points at Everton. However, a toothless performance by Liverpool’s strike force once again cost them the three points.
Rodgers decided to give Steven Gerrard his 500th appearance in the Premier League alongside Jordan Henderson in midfield. The duo dominated the game in the center of the park early on with some good possession but couldn’t test West Brom goalie Boaz Myhill. Liverpool’s first real opening came from a set piece when Gerrard almost beat Myhill. Other than that, there were a few half chances for West Brom to create an opening, but their dreadful crossing did not let them do so.
The second half saw Liverpool put more pressure on the Baggies defense. The first 10 minutes of the second half saw more action than the whole first half and Myhill was probably the star player in those ten minutes. The 32-year old denied Liverpool the lead with a double save after denying Philipe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson. West Brom replied immediately as Chris Brunt struck a sweet volley which could only hit the side-netting. That was the catalyst for the rest of the half and the Merseysiders should have taken the lead through teenager Jordon Ibe who hit the woodwork in the 63rd minute after some neat interplay with Balotelli. Both the side created half chances after that but couldn’t take the lead.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was happy with his side’s performance but admitted that the loss of two good strikers have taken its toll, “I thought the level of our game, in particular in the second half, was very good. Our intent in the game was to win and you could see that. We just needed a little break.
“West Brom defended very, very well. In the first half the idea was good, but we were probably just a little bit slow in our play. The second half was much better and we needed that little bit of luck or quality, which didn’t come our way.”
“We just don’t score as many goals – it’s as simple as that. The players are giving the same effort, the same attitude and the skills they are transferring from last year are the same.
“We had two players last year who played in our front three who between them got 50-plus goals, and we don’t have that. But as a team, the players are giving absolutely everything.”