27 January 2018

Liverpool 2-3 West Brom

Firmino 5'
Rodriguez 7' 11'
Matip OG 45+2'
Salah 78'

That was incredibly stupid.

And honestly, there was no need for it to be. After failing to score against West Brom for 90 minutes in the league last month, Liverpool opened the scoring within five today. A bad back pass, miscommunication between Evans and Foster, Salah faster than everyone else on Earth, a shot saved but a chipped rebound from Firmino. Sweet. When Liverpool score early, Liverpool are usually good!

Not today, Satan. Because today was incredibly stupid.

First, directly from the restart kickoff, with replays still on the television coverage. Wijnaldum and Alexander-Arnold can't clear Matip's weak header from a long ball, Brunt picks up from the scramble, finds Rodriguez, master-blasted in.

It obviously gets worse. And quickly.

Four minutes later, Emre Can literally does not bother to tackle Krychowiak, futility trying to keep up with him like a puppy behind its human, passed out wide to Gibbs, centered to Rodriguez for his brace – and Gibbs was aiming for Robson-Kanu, who two defenders were trying to mark.

Eight minutes later, what appears to be a West Brom third, from a corner, with Mignolet hapless and helpless. But VAR! But Barry's ruled offside and the goal's chalked off after video review!

Then more video review! Salah's fouled, no call, delay delay delay hey the referee wants to go look too, and hey it's a penalty. We're back, baby! Oh, wait, Firmino crashes it off the crossbar. Sigh. Ball, not lying, etc.

And the game remains open and stupid and West Brom suffer two injuries, and Liverpool still looks the more likely without truly threatening and now it is a West Brom third. Emre Can again, playing Dawson onside, his shot's actually a cross, and Matip somehow bundles it in.

We're still in the first half here, by the way. Matip's own goal came in the second minute of first-half injury time, of four scheduled, even though we'd seen three goals, two VAR decisions, a missed penalty, and two West Brom substitutions.

Did I mention that this game was stupid?

The second half is barely worth writing about, at least compared to the insanity and inanity of the first. A comeback rarely looked likely, a comeback never felt likely. Liverpool remained bad in midfield and therefore disjointed in attack. The defense remained unsurprisingly disorganized, but at least Liverpool didn't concede again. And, yes, the attacking options on the bench were Ings, Solanke, and I guess Milner and Henderson. Ings, Milner, and Henderson came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Can, and Mané in the 65th minute. Two goals down and that's what Liverpool can bring on. Fun times.

Well, that's not entirely fair. Henderson made Liverpool look a lot more coherent – although I suspect that West Brom tiring also helped – while Milner and Ings worked incredibly hard, as per usual. And hey Mo Salah scored his 25th of the season so that was at least a little bit of fun. But then West Brom battened down the hatches and did just enough as Liverpool huffed and puffed and the house remained standing because of course it did.

So, yeah, that was bad. That laid all of Liverpool's faults bare. The worst of Liverpool, all at once. Losing a lead. Shambles at the back. Error-prone and nowhere near creative enough in midfield. Three opposition shots on-target, three goals conceded. Mignolet doing Mignolet things, Emre Can having one of his Very Bad Emre Can games. Frighteningly thin in reserve, especially when you need to claw back from a deficit.

I still remain more worried about morale and THE SKY IS FALLING than I am going out of the FA Cup. Maybe it makes me a bad fan – I am American after all, which is a negative starting point – but the domestic cups are the bottom of my season's priorities. Every season.

The fact remains that Liverpool are out of another competition and Liverpool have lost two home matches in a row against the worst two teams in the Premier League. And they lost today while playing what's basically the first-choice XI. They lost insipidly, and aside from those final almost-furious 20 minutes, they lost pathetically.

They lost. And they looked pretty damned bad in doing so.

1 comment :

Gabe said...

Someone convince me Can is a decent player in Liverpool's system, because I don't see it.