Monday, 14 December 2015

Player Ratings - Liverpool F.C. vs. West Bromwich Albion F.C. - 2-2



West Bromwich Albion. A team that has tasted success at Anfield during recent years. Divock Origi’s injury time equaliser thwarted any hope the away side had of adding to their riches in front of the Anfield faithful. Suffice to say, I’m glad the young Belgian did and not because of the obvious reasons.

Whilst West Brom’s successes at Anfield in the past were well deserved, tonight, any result other than the one which ensued would’ve simply been unjust. And that’s also taking into account the away team’s disallowed goal before half-time (which, by the way, was the correct decision).

Cards on the table time. A football manager does what he can to achieve the right result, however Tony Pulis’ tactics are nothing but a blight on the English game. There, I said it. Believe it or not, I used to be opposed to this notion. Given certain teams’ financial constraints, alternative methods were sometimes required to achieve the objective. Now, however, I firmly believe this has changed.

With the injection of money in the Premier League - from the top to the bottom - competition hasn’t been closer; a clear illustration that the bottom teams are strengthening due to more money being at their disposal.

So here I beg the question, Mr Pulis. Why do you continue to resort to this dire affliction that slightly resembles part football part rugby? Stoke was like going to Twickenham (at this stage I actually admired your tactics, believe it or not), however you spread your wings at Crystal Palace, to the point where your team showed something of a desire to play the beautiful game and from there, I also harboured admiration for you. Now though, we are seemingly back at Twickenham and as time has moved on I find myself deploring your archaic perception of the game.

I don’t normally resort to these low-blow tactics (hell, Mourinho was even safe throughout these parts!), but as the old adage goes, everyone has their threshold. Coupled with Mr Pulis’ anti-football manifesto are the West Bromwich Albion away supporters who chose to chant derogatory slogans whilst an opposition player, Dejan Lovren, was down after suffering from a disgusting challenge and a potentially career-ending one. Another Pulisian moment? He wouldn’t stoop so low, however it was clear that West Brom’s away supporters did. Congratulations, it was quite the accomplishment.

As for the game. The home atmosphere was great and it’s nice to see Jurgen Klopp’s words having the desired effect. Naturally, set pieces are a big concern and all the good work that has been done in recent weeks has momentarily come undone at the seams. The fight to draw level was admirable, and the home supporters’ collective voice was as much the reason for that. Long may it continue.   

Ratings as follows (a slight change in the rating structure from now on, in a bid to differentiate from other sites – thanks for the tip, guys):

Simon Mignolet - 4: Horribly exposed for West Brom’s equaliser, failing miserably to recover a ball from the initial corner. Set pieces proved to be Liverpool’s achilles heel all evening and having a jittery keeper behind the defence didn’t help the cause.   

Nathaniel Clyne – 6.5: Reliable as always, combining well with Adam Lallana on the right hand side. His crossing was a little wayward at times. Other than that, the Englishman was his usual reliable self.

Martin Skrtel - 6: The Slovakian could be held jointly accountable for West Brom’s second however the delivery on the cross would have upended most defences in the Premier League.

Dejan Lovren – 6.5: Like Skrtel, perhaps got caught out slightly for West Brom’s second goal, however the Croatian had a good game until he fell victim to a sickening challenge from Craig Gardner, which could have easily broken his leg.

Alberto Moreno- 6: Tidy enough throughout the match and provided several good crosses to Christian Benteke. However, the young Spaniard was needlessly caught out in possession that led to the corner from which Liverpool conceded the second goal. He needs to eliminate these sudden lapses in concentration from his game.

Emre Can - 6: At times the young German linked well with Jordan Henderson, but looked slightly off the pace, with several misplaced passes. He was also caught on the ball on numerous occasions. Not his best day at office, however there is potential in the midfield with both he and Henderson.

Jordon Henderson (C) – 7 – Man of the Match: Liverpool’s best player, marking his return to the starting line-up with a well taken goal. As documented above, he linked well with Can, as well as Philippe Coutinho. Many may suggest that the little Brazilian is the driver in the LFC engine room, however the presence of the Liverpool skipper should not be understated. He has been missed.

James Milner – 6: It was a largely ineffective evening for the marquee man. With Henderson now fit, competition for places has heated up. Milner’s place in the starting XI is currently a questionable one.

Adam Lallana – 6.5:  Provided a nice header for Henderson’s opener, and generally caused West Brom’s defence problems outside the box. It’s inside the eighteen yard box where Lallana needs to provide more, spurring a golden chance to square the ledger late on. Henderson’s return will help the Englishman.

Philippe Coutinho - 6: The little maestro was understandably rusty on his return to the starting line-up. Had several chances in the first half but failed to capitalise. Will be better for the run-out ahead of next week’s trip to Watford.

Christian Benteke - 5: Another sub-par afternoon for the big Belgian, who lacked the movement to really cause the West Brom defence any troubles. The goals will come, however Klopp will be working tirelessly to figure out a way to fully utilise Benteke’s strengths.

Substitutes:

Jordan Ibe – 6: Once again, the youngster made several mazy runs, not to mention a decent effort which flashed wide. A very good option to bring off the bench.  

Divock Origi – N/R: Although somewhat fortuitous, his equaliser was on the back of his sheer will to continue after being fouled. The young Belgian is coming along very nicely, to the point where he may just find himself in the starting line-up next week against Watford.

Roberto Firmino – N/R: Came on late to help salvage a point.

By Simon K.