Talking Points: Liverpool 2 West Bromwich Albion 3

Liverpool’s miserable week continued as they exited the FA Cup in disappointing fashion against West Brom in a crazy game at Anfield. VAR will grab a lot of the headlines, but equally so will a second shocking performance and defeat in six days from J├╝rgen Klopp’s team.

Full strength team but same dismal performances…

Managers are often accused of not taking competitions like the FA Cup seriously enough, and Klopp was guilty of this when Liverpool were knocked out by Wolves last season. Thus looking to avoid the same mistakes, the German named a very strong starting line-up featuring all three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Things started off brightly as Firmino chipped his side into an early lead, but a quick and devastating West Brom comeback saw the match turn on its head and, as produced against Swansea on Monday, a long list of poor Liverpool performances. Only Salah, Firmino – who still missed a penalty at a crucial time in the came – and Jordan Henderson can come out of that game with any positives, with the likes of Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Emre Can all playing quite dreadful. It was even worse a team performance than the one against Swansea, and the Reds are now in a real mess having had their unbeaten runs ended.

Scoreline and opponents reflect Reds’ defensive mess…

Conceding three goals at home to Man City, fair enough, they are a quality attacking unit. Conceding three goals at home to West Brom who have scored just 19 League goals all season – the joint third lowest – is absolutely disgraceful. Credit must be given to West Brom of course, they were surprisingly dangerous in attack and ultimately were fully deserving of the win. But Liverpool were shambolic when it came to defending and make it far too easy for Alan Pardew’s side. All three goals that the Reds conceded had multiple individuals making mistakes in the build-up, with most of Klopp’s team responsible in some way for at least one of the goals. Missing tackles, not winning first and second balls, failing to track off the ball runners – too many mistakes. Van Dijk will prove to be a great signing, but like what has already been said, he will not fix the defence on his own. It is extremely concerning that a poor display from Can was all it took for any resistance to West Brom’s attack to disappear. It is simply and worryingly the same old stories for Liverpool.

Wait for a trophy and consistency goes on…

26 February 2012. The last time Liverpool won a trophy. Next month it will be 6 years without a trophy for the Club, and if this week is anything to go by this wait for silverware will only continue. The FA Cup was the Reds’ best chance of winning a trophy this season, as any realist knows this current Liverpool side has zero chance of winning the Champions League no matter what their history with the competition is like. This week has shown that even though this team has the ability to go on long unbeaten and winning runs, there are still massive areas of concern yet to be addressed and fixed that will always see results such as the ones against Swansea and West Brom lurk right around the corner. Only Liverpool could beat the league leaders and then go lose their next two games to the two teams currently bottom and second bottom, but this is not something to laugh at. The consistency needed to win trophies and challenge for titles will continue to evade Klopp and his players if issues are not sorted.

VAR used to near perfection and shows why it is a worthwhile addition…

The fact that VAR worked so well is arguably a good thing as it means Liverpool have no dodgy referring decisions to blame for the defeat. Instead, West Brom get the praise they deserve and the Reds’ get the criticism they warrant. VAR will probably always divide opinion, but on Saturday night it worked perfectly given it has only just been introduced into English football. What could have been 3-1 to West Brom with them having scored an offside goal and Liverpool not being given a clear penalty, was quite the opposite thanks to VAR. Improvements need to be made of course, such as fans inside the stadium actually having some idea of what on Earth is going on, but the time taken for the decisions will only get quicker over time, and while some football fans may prefer a flowing game, I prefer a fair game where teams are not being cost matches with incorrect decisions. Long may VAR continue.

 

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