Liverpool’s Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino scored the only goal in first-half stoppage time as Jürgen Klopp’s men emerged with six points from away games at Stoke City and West Brom in successive weeks to strengthen their hopes of a top-four finish. The game offered very little in the way of imagination and creativity, but the Reds managed to find a way to bag all three points.
Here are three talking points from the game.
Liverpool show their mettle in what is one of the toughest away
Jürgen Klopp’s men, although didn’t look anywhere near their best, coped well against a very physical West Bromwich Albion. The lack of fluidity is in some respects, was evident due to the absence of key players like Sadio Mane (out for the season), Jordan Henderson, and Adam Lallana. They clearly missed Mane’s pace and directness, Henderson’s passing and tackling, and Lallana’s incisive passing and the ability to find space. Lucas put a good shift in, but he is no substitute for either Lallana or Henderson. Origi filled in, but is still raw and lacks Mane’s explosive bursts.
Step up, Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian has been in scintillating form this season and came up with the goods when Liverpool required it the most. To put it into context, Liverpool hadn’t won away to a Tony Pulis side in 8 matches. This goes way back to when he was managing Stoke City.
The Reds’ fans will be optimistic heading into the run-in given the fact that all their matches against the top six are done with. Although, they wouldn’t mind facing them as they are unbeaten in ten games (W5 D5) against the top six. It has been these tricky fixtures which has put them in a fight for the top four, and not the title itself. Klopp will be furious as his team has not shown up on those occasions.
Tony Pulis ought to be furious at his side’s performance
West Bromwich Albion have established themselves as a club with a formidable home record which has seen them drawing against Tottenham and winning 3-1 against Arsenal. Yesterday’s loss makes little sense because, they were at home, safe in the knowledge that they will be playing Premier League football next season and yet did not show the desire to beat a team with much to play for.
They were simply toothless and their manager will be scratching his head as to how to improve this team. Nacer Chadli missed a guilt-edged chance when couldn’t meet a Matt Phillips cross at the far post as he lost concentration just as he shaped to shoot. Matt Phillips himself didn’t do justice to his selection as he was thwarted by Simon Mignolet when put through by substitute Salomon Rondon.
Their new owners will be looking for new signings in the summer and a few attacking players is exactly what Tony Pulis will be asking for. Salomon Rondon has gone 17 Premier League games without a goal, shocking for a striker. Hal-Robson Kanu was signed on a free this August after an impressive Euros. But he has disappointed so far, failing to get considerable time on the pitch.
Liverpool a step close to Champions League football?
It has taken their manager a season’s time, but his ‘heavy metal’ style of play is proving to be the main reason for their terrific resurrection after that calamitous title collapse three seasons ago. It is because of this heavy metal that Anfield will be rocking to the tune of the Champions League anthem next season, provided they win their remaining fixtures of course. Phillippe Coutinho and Firmino along with Mane, have lit up the Premier League this season right from the get-go as they have blown away teams in the first few minutes of matches.
One doesn’t need a lot of footballing knowledge to see the way they tore Tottenham apart at Anfield a month ago. The north London club didn’t know what hit them by the time Mane had scored a spectacular brace within the first 20 minutes. That has been the case for much of the season and the fans’ only concern will be how they’ll cope with the end of season fixtures as Klopp’s teams run out of fuel and appear to be running on fumes in the back end.
This will most likely be looked into during the summer transfer window with players like Julian Brandt linked with a switch to Merseyside. It has been a great second season for ‘The Normal One’ and trust him to get his team to dizzier heights next season.