Sadio Mane and Joel Matip were the only good performers as Liverpool failed to secure all three points against West Bromwich Albion.
Liverpool’s hundred per cent winning record at Anfield this season came to an end on Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Bromwich Albion.
The Reds were the dominant side in the first half, keeping hold of possession and probing the opposing backline. An early goal from Sadio Mane, in fact, pretty much floated the idea of yet another potential rout. But to West Brom’s credit, they dug in well, showing immense patience to prevent the hosts from finding that second goal, with the score remaining 1-0 at half-time.
In the second half, the Baggies looked like a completely different side. They poured more men forward in an attempt to trouble the Liverpool defence, especially during the initial stages of the second 45 minutes. Although they failed to create too many clear cut opportunities, Sam Allardyce’s men expertly maintained their solidity at the back.
It was enough to frustrate a Liverpool side that lacked inventiveness going forward. And the hosts deservedly conceded the equaliser in the 82nd minute when Semi Ajayi powered home a Matheus Pereira cross. Naturally, the Reds desperately tried to find a late winner but were denied by a heroic save from Sam Johnstone in the final minute of normal time.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Liverpool players in their disappointing draw with West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
Alisson did not have much to do for large parts of the game, as West Brom produced very little clear cut chances. However, he made a crucial save in the second half to deny Karlan Grant, but couldn’t do much to save Ajayi’s effort as it hit the woodwork and went into the back of the net. He will be disappointed to have missed out on the clean sheet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold was a complete menace for the West Brom backline throughout the first half. The right-back almost camped himself in the opposition half, providing excellent offensive service for the attackers.
Few of his drilled crosses even came close to finding a Liverpool player, although Darnell Furlong did a remarkable job of blocking most of them. The youngster’s form faded in the latter stages of the game as the opposition started to push forward. He could have done a bit more defensive work, however.
Joel Matip: 8/10
Joel Matip looked absolutely brilliant throughout the time he was on the pitch. In fact, it was his pass that set up Mane for the early opener. The ex-Schalke centre-back also barely put a foot wrong with regard to his defending but was very unfortunate as he picked up a groin injury that forced him off the pitch early in the second half. It turned out to be a huge turning point in the game.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 27, 2020
Fabinho should have done a much better job of marking Ajayi, who scored the equaliser. It was a massive dent in an otherwise decent performance from the Brazilian, who distributed the ball well. He even operated as an auxiliary midfielder, at times, especially during the attacking phases.
Andrew Robertson: 7.5/10
Much like Alexander-Arnold, Robertson offered a lot of offensive support from the far side. While the left-back didn’t enjoy as much freedom in the first half as his teammate on the opposite flank, he became a more important asset to Liverpool’s approach play in the second half. He was a more balanced outlet for the Reds as well, allowing very little freedom for Callum Robinson to make any sort of impact.
Jordan Henderson: 7.5/10
Jordan Henderson operated in his usual role as a holding midfielder. The Englishman instigated most of Liverpool’s approach play, finding some clever forward balls and helping his team sustain pressure on the opposition. His motivation and leadership were always a bonus for the hosts, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line.
Jordan Henderson’s first half by numbers vs. West Brom:
100% tackles won
88% pass accuracy
35 forward passes
5 ball recoveries
1 chance created
Keeping things ticking. 🕰 pic.twitter.com/3JChk0cf7G
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 27, 2020
Curtis Jones: 7/10
Curtis Jones’ box-to-box qualities were once again useful for Liverpool in this game. The youngster acted as the primary ball-carrier for the home side, offering some excellent creative essence in the final third of the pitch. However, an improved West Brom performance in the second half minimised his influence in the proceedings as he ultimately made way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6.5/10
Georginio Wijnaldum wasn’t as flashy as some of his teammates on the night. The Dutchman could perhaps even have done a little better in trying to breach the opposition backline with a bit more inventiveness in his play. Covered a lot of ground nonetheless, and was a key figure especially after the restart.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
It was a bad day at the office for Mohamed Salah, who was struggling to create much even when Liverpool were dominating. The Egyptian simply couldn’t test the West Brom defenders frequently enough, thus making it difficult for the Reds to break the shackles. One should expect much better from a player who is widely considered as one of the best players in the Premier League.
Mohamed Salah’s game by numbers vs. West Brom:
3 shots (0 on target)
1 successful take-on
1 chance created
0 fouls suffered
A quiet night. 😴 pic.twitter.com/LsMoUijDu7
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 27, 2020
Roberto Firmino: 7.5/10
Roberto Firmino played his usual game on the night, in the number nine role. The Brazilian made a host of smart movements, making it difficult for the West Brom defenders to keep track of him. Although the Baggies dealt with him better than expected, he was denied a late winner by Johnstone, who made a brilliant save during the final minute of normal time.
Sadio Mane: 8/10
Sadio Mane looked deadly in the final third for Liverpool. The Senegalese international was making a host of runs into the box, trying to get on the end of Alexander-Arnold’s crosses. He was defended well by Furlong, although the opposition had no answer to his amazing control and finish to find the early opener.
Rhys Williams: 6/10
Rhys William was the replacement for the injured Matip early in the second half. The young centre-back found it a little difficult to deal with the West Brom pressure, with Grant immediately troubling him with a darting run.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6.5/10
Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought on to add more creativity to Liverpool’s game. The ex-Arsenal star produced an excellent ball to Firmino for a late chance, but the Brazilian’s effort was saved by Johnstone.
Divock Origi: N/A
A late replacement for Firmino. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.