Liverpool Struggle in Scoreless Draw vs. West Brom

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2017

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool argues with Claudio Yacob of West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on December 13, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

For the second straight match, Liverpool dropped points at Anfield, this time playing to a scoreless draw against West Bromwich Albion

Despite dominating the contest—Liverpool held 71 percent of possession and outshot West Brom, 14-6 (5-1 on target), according to WhoScored.com—the Reds failed to find a winner. It appeared they had one in the 82nd minute as Dominic Solanke found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed after the referee called him for a handball. 

Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum returned to the starting lineup after finding themselves benched against Everton—joining danger men Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane—but it didn't matter as the club couldn't get past goalkeeper Ben Foster or West Brom's entrenched and resolute defense.

"We had a tough task in dealing with Coutinho and [the] front three," West Brom manager Alan Pardew said after the match, per Andy Kelly of the Liverpool Echo. "But we had a game plan and delivered what we had done on the training ground."

Liverpool had their chances, of course, namely in the second half. Mane blew a golden opportunity in the 56th minute, slicing his first-time strike wide after a Firmino low cross, while Jonny Evans came up with a crucial clearance off the line in the 65th minute.

Things nearly got hairy for West Brom in the 84th minute, as Foster denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, only to see his rebound find its way to Solanke. Evans played the part of hero again, however, blocking the shot on the line to preserve the draw. 

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp broke down his team's showing after the match, according to Kelly: 

West Brom nearly secured the full points themselves, striking the post twice behind Hal Robson-Kanu's effort in the first half and Salomon Rondon's in the 85th minute. Ahmed Hegazi had more than one chance to put a header on goal as well in the second half but couldn't beat Liverpool 'keeper Loris Karius.

The loss saw Liverpool drop 18 points behind Manchester City and to fifth on the table, as Tottenham's win saw them leapfrog the Reds. Of course, the Reds aren't alone in craning their necks at Manchester City atop the table, as Bill Edgar of The Times noted: 

It was West Brom's 15th straight Premier League match without a win, meanwhile, leaving them at 17th on the table.

"A very important point for us," Pardew noted, per Kelly. "We didn't come here to open up, we need to gain belief by being very disciplined. Couldn't fault the players."

Up next for Liverpool is a match against Bournemouth on Sunday, while West Brom will face Manchester United that same day.

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