As well as strengthening his reputation as a Premier League firefighter in recent years, Sam Allardyce has also developed an uncanny ability to upset Liverpool at Anfield. The last visiting coach to win a Premier League game on this field, more than three years and 67 games ago, became the first to deny Jürgen Klopp’s side a home league win this season, as West Bromwich Albion scored a valuable point in his attempt to climb. from the relegation zone.
Liverpool, who had previously lost just two points out of 48 available at Anfield in 2020, were dominant but were unable to rediscover their ruthless clinical advantage after Sadio Mané put them at an early lead. The visitors, who had posed virtually no threat until the second half, punished the hosts’ increasingly restrained display of attack when Semi Ajayi headed in from a corner in the 82nd minute. Roberto Firmino came close to winning it in the last minute , but Sam Johnstone made a magnificent save with the tip of the finger of the header in the post of the Brazilian.
Albion had started with five players stationed in the middle line ready to chase a long ball to the bottom of Liverpool’s half. That routine in training ground represented the beginning and the end of his attacking intention during the first half. Liverpool gained possession from the visitors’ kick-off and rarely released it. Karlan Grant, the only forward in Allardyce’s starting 4-5-1 lineup, quickly morphed into a sixth midfielder and Albion’s 4-6-0 system, unsurprisingly, ensured there was only an occasional release from the team. constant pressure from champions.
Klopp’s team had enjoyed a full seven days to bounce back from their last game, the 7-0 destruction of Crystal Palace, and wasted little time exploiting the few gaps in the visitors’ defensive blocks. Andy Robertson was prominent early on, thriving on the overlap and delivering an early cross that barely eluded Mohamed Salah at the far post.
Albion’s containment policy was quickly undermined by the brilliance of Mané, who made a difficult occasion seem so easy when Joël Matip sent a pass into a crowded penalty area. The Senegalese international controlled the defender’s ball to the chest, spun and volleyed past Sam Johnstone in a lightning, fluid motion. Always on the alert, the forward only needed a moment’s hesitation from Ajayi to find the space necessary to score his sixth league goal of the season.
The remainder of the first period brought few clear opportunities regarding Liverpool’s dominance of possession and quasi-permanent residence in the final third. Mané led a dive header after drifting away from Darnell Furlong and Ajayi again to hit a cross from Jordan Henderson. Salah flew as Robertson’s free kick got in his way at the edge of the box and Trent Alexander-Arnold threw another free kick off Johnstone’s right post. Allardyce will undoubtedly have seen Liverpool’s limited number of opportunities in open play as a kind of victory.
Albion almost fell two behind early in the second half when Georginio Wijnaldum pushed Henderson off and the captain’s shot vanished with Johnstone nailed on the spot. To be fair, the visitors showed ambition after the break, certainly in terms of a willingness to engage bodies forward for a draw, and Grant made his first shot on goal turning sharply into a Furling cross. However, the effort went straight to Alisson, previously unemployed.
Klopp’s frustration began to boil as Dara O’Shea picked up the game’s first caution by catching Henderson from behind with one leg behind. The midfielder was unhurt, but moments later Matip stopped with an alleged groin strain and immediately indicated to the bench that he could not continue. Liverpool’s injury woes have started to subside of late, as evidenced by the return of James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri to a strong and experienced substitute roster that includes the fit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but it’s the concentration of punches. in central defense he has really tried the resources. Rhys Williams replaced the beaten Matip in his second Premier League appearance and, when the next decision came against Liverpool, Klopp became the second person to be booked for his demonstrative dissatisfaction.
The visitors came close to capitalizing on Liverpool’s defensive interruption when Romaine Sawyers created his clearest opportunity with a penetrating long ball to Grant. The striker beat Williams on the left and advanced into the penalty area, but Alisson, as is often the case, was immovable and blocked the low shot with his legs.
Salah had a decent chance to double the home side’s lead when Wijnaldum sent a perfect cross into the box but, after finding a yard over Albion’s central defenders, the Liverpool forward headed high over Johnstone’s bar. The failure assumed a greater and unexpected importance as the visitors leveled with just eight minutes to go. A loose pass from Curtis Jones plus a bit of defensive uncertainty led Albion to earn a corner down the right. Matheus Pereira, a late substitute, traded passes with Sawyer before sweeping into a luscious cross that Ajayi found with a towering header over Fabinho. The defender had his head in his hands as the ball hit the inside of the far post, but was soon running towards the corner flag in celebration when he fell over the line with Alisson beaten well.
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