Liverpool’s inconsistencies away from home continued at The Hawthorns yesterday after a terrible error from defender Kolo Toure gave West Bromwich Albion a well earned point. In a game that lacked quality from both sides, Liverpool failed to capitalise on Daniel Sturridges 24th minute opener to succumb to their fifth draw of the campaign, four of which have come away from home.
Pepe Mel’s side once again showed they are up for the relegation fight they have been dragged into, with a disciplined and hearty performance which frustrated Liverpool throughout.
Liverpool’s control of the game was evident from the off, though they were not using their dominance to create enough chances to test Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Steven Gerrard again showed that he can play in a deeper role and did well on a number of occasions to break down West Brom’s play in the final third, whilst Philippe Coutinho enjoyed another good performance on the left of the midfield, again drifting in between the lines behind Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
Raheem Stirling, Liverpool’s best player on the day, gave right back Liam Ridgewell a headache throughout, his mazy runs and lightning pace causing havoc in the West Bromwich back line.
Draw specialists West Bromwich will be thanking their lucky stars after Kolo Toure’s horrific backpass to ex Everton striker Victor Anichebe. It was all The Baggies deserved in all honesty, they came out in the second half the better team, and could have drew level earlier had it not been for Simon Mignolet’s reaction save from Gareth McCauley’s towering header.
They are a very compact side are West Brom, they stop teams playing in the middle of the field, Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu shepherding their zones with an efficiency and physicality that is required when a team is so close to the relegation zone. It is a wonder either of them failed to get the man of the match award, a few heads were scratched when Zoltan Gera’s name was called out over the tannoy, the Hungarian having a relatively quiet game in central midfield.
Whilst West Brom’s defence kept the threat of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to a minimum yesterday, Liverpool’s central pairing of Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel again were in the spotlight, this time for the wrong reasons. After such an emphatic display against Everton on Tuesday night they looked shaky and unsure on the ball and when defending set pieces.
Kolo Toure’s game will be remembered for his ‘assist’ for Anichebe, but there will be more questions about Liverpool’s ability to keep clean sheets on the road, this being the 10th time they have conceded away from Anfield this term, keeping only two clean sheets in the process.
It is something Brendan Rodgers will know needs addressing, his side yet again failing to capitalise on a previous games victory. Momentum doesn’t seem to exist in Liverpool’s vocabulary, at various points in the season have they let themselves down with a lethargic performance and bad result.
Liverpool’s failure to capitalise on momentum is evident
- Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool- 2-2 draw away to Swansea followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton
- Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool- Fail to beat 10 man Newcastle at St James’ Park.
- Everton 3-3 Liverpool – Lose 3-1 away to Hull at the KC Stadium
- Stoke 3-5 Liverpool- 2-2 draw at home to Villa after going two down.
- Liverpool 4-0 Everton- 1-1 away to West Bromwich
There is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool are a side massively improved from the previous 4 or 5 years, in fact they are better off than any of those years at this stage in the season, with 47 points from 24 games.
My dissection of Liverpool’s inconsistencies is not meant to criticise, it is to be wary of the fact that a Top 4 position is not a solidified fact. There is a long way to go, Liverpool will indeed slip up again, as will the other teams in and around the European spots.
What Liverpool have to learn is to win ugly when it matters, and not get too carried away with a result from the previous game. Paul Tomkins of the Tomkins Times wrote of Liverpool’s play being ‘a case of searing, heat-seeking attack, or disorganised chaos’, arguably only Hull at home was an ‘ugly win’, the spectacle of the game not being great but the players walked off the field with three points despite that.
And Tomkins again, is dead right (I say again because he usually is spot on). In the disorganised chaos of Stoke City on a January hurricane filled afternoon, Liverpool got it together and saw the game out. They must do the same in their remaining fixtures, particularly away from home.
Liverpool’s remaining away fixtures:
- Fulham- 12/02
- Southampton- 01/03
- Manchester United- 16/03
- Cardiff- 22/03
- West Ham United- 05/04
- Norwich- 19/04
- Crystal Palace- 03/05
Of the 7 fixtures Liverpool play away from Anfield between now and May, 5 of those teams occupy the bottom 6, with the other being yesterday’s opponents at The Hawthorns. The difference in points between Norwich who are 16th and Fulham who are bottom, is just five points, and doesn’t show much sign of opening up any time soon.
For any fan or player who has experienced a relegation dogfight, they will tell you that their fixtures at home are the games that can save you from the drop. The atmosphere increases, the game becomes scrappy, and the underdog often takes the role of David, whilst Goliath is left battered and bruised.
This is merely an pre-empted assumption of course, and Liverpool may steam roll the majority of these teams. They certainly have that in their capacity, SAS and all, but these games must be approached with caution, and whilst the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton face arguably the more difficult run in, Liverpool may need to show their ugly side if the beautiful music of the Champions League is to be bellowed out in the hollowed streets of old Anfield Road.