West Brom 2 Liverpool 1: Spot of bother for ropey Reds
MARTIN SMITH delivers his verdict on a reunion with the former gaffer at the Hawthorns
WELL it wasn’t great was it? All the talk will be about Hodgson getting one over the Reds, and exacting sweet revenge, but too many misplaced passes, a lack of creativity and some poor defending led to Liverpool’s downfall.
It almost started perfectly, Dirk Kuyt heading goalwards from Andy Carroll's flick-on before cracking a follow-up shot from point-blank range against the bar.
Carroll did well early on, but West Brom's intentions were clear – rough Carroll up and get into his head. It worked. And with referee Martin Atkinson refusing to give the advantage to the number nine on almost every occasion he challenged for the ball, his frustrations threatened to boil over
On eight minutes, the Reds were forced into a rethink. Left back Glen Johnson, who had played right back for England twice in the past week, was forced off with a hamstring problem. That was a big blow because the defender has been playing very well lately.
His replacement was Soto Kyrgiakos, who came on at centre back, and over Daniel Agger went to left back. Our backline now had four centre backs in it. If that was bad enough, our stand-in left back then suffered an injury.
Agger’s history with injuries is well documented, and his poor luck struck again here. This time it looked like a knee injury, and unfortunately, it cut short the Dane’s match. He was replaced at left back by natural centre back Danny Wilson. More square pegs in round holes.
The changes disrupted us, with no sign of the early threats to Albion's goal. It was a poor half in all from our lads, but we were still drawing. No positives, but still in the game.
The second half started a little bit brighter and the goal came on 50 minutes. A long ball had led to a shooting chance for Carroll and his effort was pushed away by former Red Scot Carson.
From the corner, Meireles' cross fell straight to Skrtel and his head was superby placed into the top corner. Easy as that - 1-0 and suddenly a poor first half was forgotten. The problem was, we couldn’t capitalise on the lead.
Liverpool's play was laboured, we weren’t creating anything close to what we should have been. We had to keep the pressure on but unfortunately, the lead lasted just 12 minutes. Kyrgiakos and Peter Odemwingie tangled in the box, and when the Greek went down for the tackle, he fouled the powerful forward.
Replays suggested that the defender may have touched the ball slightly, but the penalty was given. Brunt stepped up and smashed the ball in the net.
The momentum remained with West Brom. They continued to press forward and tested Pepe Reina on several occasions. With two minutes to go, a foul on Kyrgiakos allowed Odemwingie to bear down on goal and as he attempted to round Reina, he went to ground.
It looked a harsh decision, particularly on Kyrgiakos who was fouled in the build-up, and just as Sunderland had questioned a similar situation last time out, now Liverpool were left scratching their heads as to why a linesman was making a call on a decision when the referee was better placed.
Again, Brunt smashed the penalty home. Frustrating summed it up. Two mistakes had cost us priceless points, and while the argument may be there that one, maybe even both, of the penalties shouldn’t have stood, it was still our own poor play that ultimately cost us.
A late rally by the Reds, which saw a chipped shot from Suarez cleared off the line, couldn’t rescue the point.
Typically, the knee-jerk reactions started. Football phone-ins crackled with fans complaining about our poor team, poor this and poor that. A bad day at the office doesn’t mean we’ve got a poor team, we’ve got some good players and have produced some excellent results lately.
However, we’re still a little threadbare in certain positions and when injuries take their toll the squad is shown up for its lack of depth. Today was a perfect example.
Five centre backs in the squad, yet no out and out left back. Four centre midfielders and four strikers in the squad of eighteen, yet no creativity on the wings.
Kenny will address it in the summer, but for now, we have to make do. This was a minor setback in what has been a good few months under Dalglish. There’s no knee-jerk reaction here. We’ll put this one behind us, move on and get ready for the next game.
Well Red Magazine Man of the Match: Pepe Reina – pulled off some great saves and commanded his area well.
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Carragher (c), Skrtel, Agger (Wilson, 24), Johnson (Kyrgiakos, 8), Lucas, Spearing, Meireles, Kuyt (Cole, 87), Carroll, Suarez Subs not used: Gulacsi, Poulsen, Ngog, Maxi
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|Last Updated ( Saturday, 02 April 2011 19:47 )|