Sanjay Nair looks at the major talking points from Liverpool’s Premier League meeting with West Brom this afternoon at Anfield.
Three days before a Champions League semi-final and with plenty of momentum in Liverpool’s favour, a routine win was expected at The Hawthorns despite the Baggies being our bogey team this year.
Jürgen Klopp went with a changed, yet relatively strong side with record chasing Mo Salah starting alongside Danny Ings and Sadio Mané. For nearly 80 minutes, everything was going according to plan and The Reds were in cruise control despite shoddy play at times.
However, a familiar chink in the armour reared its ugly head again at the most inopportune moment to cost Liverpool 2 points and perhaps a chance to seal 4th place at the least. Let us take a look at five talking points from the match.
The goal scoring return of Danny Ings
Danny Ings made a rare start under Jürgen Klopp, which obviously had more to do with Champions League based rotation than form. Having said that, Ings had a dream start to the match when he was the fastest to pounce on a chance inside the box after some silky work by Sadio Mané on the left flank.
The celebrations thereafter spoke probably more of relief than pure joy for Ings. His teammates and probably the entire Liverpool fanbase around the world joined in with the striker after his terrible injury issues over the last two years.
With a little bit of luck, he might even have had another goal and won his side a penalty as well. Hopefully, his injury-prone days are over and we will be able to see Ings proving to be a more than able cover for the likes of Firmino or Salah. With Liverpool sure to be competing on all four fronts again next season, the contributions from Ings will prove telling especially for progressing into the later stages of the Cup ties.
Moreno’s Liverpool days might be nearing an end
After a series of confident, error-free performances earlier in the season prior to losing his place to Andy Robertson, we got to see the old Alberto Moreno once again against the Baggies.
Liverpool were constantly vulnerable to attacks from the left wing with Matt Philips ensuring Moreno had a nightmare time of it throughout. Moreno’s positioning and the timing of his tackles were almost always poor which resulted in a lot of balls into the away side’s box.
Moreno’s link up play with his teammates up front also left much to be desired and one sensed that the front-line did not know what to expect from Moreno. This performance is sure to open up the debate on the need for additional cover at left back for Robertson and it might suit Moreno well to find another club where he will get more minutes to improve himself.
English football needs VAR
With each passing game, the number of errors made by Premier League referees seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. Liverpool were once again at the receiving end of more than a handful of poor decisions.
First, there was the trip on Ings by Dawson inside the box which went unpunished. Ings was at the end of an even more horrendous decision when Hegazi was left scot-free when he clearly punched Ings in the stomach in retaliation for a tackle which itself was wrongly awarded against Ings.
Hegazi was the culprit again when he swung and connected with his arm on his countryman Mo Salah. Again, no comment or booking from the referee. Not only have the FA refused to act retrospectively, but it meant that West Brom still had 11 men on the pitch throughout and Liverpool were denied a clear advantage.
There are similar instances in games involving other teams as well almost every week and it would do the game a great deal of justice to have VAR implemented at the earliest.
Familiar defensive errors cost Liverpool 2 points
No matter how many decisions went against them, there is no taking away the fact that Liverpool were guilty of poor defending on numerous occasions during the match. Alberto Moreno and Joe Gomez had a day to forget with both goals coming immediately following errors by them.
Set-piece vulnerability, which had nearly become a forgotten entity after the arrival of Van Dijk, was at the forefront of both goals. West Brom had more players than Liverpool in the 6-yard area for the first goal and Rondon was able to lose his marker quite easily for the second.
This will not have gone unnoticed by our opponents on Tuesday, AS Roma who will now surely look to create enough opportunities to test our centre-backs and set-piece defending again. Liverpool fans will be hoping that today was just a rare bad day at the office and normalcy will be restored at the back at Anfield.
Mo Salah’s record-equaling performance
If anyone thought Mo Salah was bound to have a drought at some stage during the season, they were absolutely right. Except that it does not last for more than one match at the most.
Another exquisite from the Egyptian King finish after being put through by Oxlade Chamberlain saw Salah equal the Premier League record of 31 goals in a season in a 38 game season. Although there are three more games left in the season, Salah will surely want to seal the deal and break it in front of the home fans at Anfield next weekend.
Stoke City and Brighton at home with Chelsea away in between offers Salah enough opportunities to score a few more and prise the Golden Boot away from Harry Kane.
The Reds will also be looking to Salah to continue his goalscoring all the way until the end of May to ensure progress in the Champions League. If Liverpool do reach the final in Kiev, Ian Rush’s single-season record of 47 goals will also be under serious threat.
For now, the focus needs to be trained onto Tuesday night’s tie against AS Roma and ensure we go for the return leg at the Stadio Olimpico with a handsome lead and more importantly, A CLEAN SHEET.