25 April 2015

Liverpool 0-0 West Brom

Tony Pulis team does Tony Pulis things, Liverpool remain Liverpool.

This is what happens when an immovable object meets a completely resistible force.

Still, it's not as if Liverpool made it hard for West Brom. 4-3-3 with a very wide front three meant that Liverpool dominated possession but couldn't create a single thing inside the final third, with Sterling and Ibe doubled up and Balotelli completely isolated. Players were static in attack with at least eight West Brom defenders behind the ball and final third passes routinely went astray, with Liverpool players shouting at each other about the run or pass that should have been made.

Liverpool had 79% possession in the first half. Liverpool had no shots on-target and no shots from inside the box to show for it.

Like Hull at Anfield way back in October, West Brom made no pretense at attack. After victory at Palace last week, West Brom needed a single point to all but guarantee safety, so all West Brom did was play for that point. Which they got. Because Liverpool.

Liverpool's first shot inside the box and first shot on-target came in the same move in the 55th minute, Liverpool's best chance of scoring, pretty much Liverpool's only chance of scoring. But Balotelli's turn and shot was blocked, followed by Myhill saves on Coutinho and Henderson, then Lescott cleared before Henderson's second chance at a rebound. Seven minutes later, Ibe hit the crossbar after a nice one-two with Balotelli, the only moment where a players' pace put them in behind West Brom's defense. 30 minutes later, Lovren headed narrowly wide just before the final whistle.

And that's pretty much all Liverpool had to show for 22 shots in total, 662 passes, and 75% possession, the only moments where you had a modicum of hope that Liverpool might actually make the breakthrough. All season long, we've complained about the side's inability to score and to put shots on-target, and things are somehow getting worse, not better. Part of that admittedly has to do with there being little to play for, part has to do with injuries, but it's not as if it's an uncommon occurrence.

Brendan Rodgers' attempt to change proceedings was to replace Balotelli and Ibe with Borini and Lallana. Same formation, new disappointing pieces. And it went about as well as you'd expect. Lallana had some clever touches, Borini, um, ran around a bit, but neither could alter the tenor or tempo. West Brom, having held Liverpool at bay for 85 minutes, finished the game stronger, actually going for it with little time left on the clock, requiring an excellent near post save and then a well-punched corner from Mignolet.

I don't understand reverting to a formation which led to Liverpool's worst start to a season in 50 years. I don't understand playing Balotelli as a lone striker when it hasn't worked once this season, and I don't understand taking him off when you're brining on the other striker in the squad (even if that striker's a striker in name only). I don't understand playing Gerrard and Johnson for 90 minutes when neither will be at the club next season.

This played out like an end-of-season contest, the kind you see on the last day when both teams' position is secure. And while Liverpool's season all but ended with last week's loss at Wembley, there's still five more of these matches to slog through.

It's become a broken record, but this side has no goals in it. And as long as that's the case, we'll have a fair few matches like today's.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/32468638 Brendan sadly must leave us here. How can he class that as outstanding? Your analysis is spot on as ever Nate. Delusion reigns.