Late drama and an unexpected result will give Jurgen Klopp much to think about after his side’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
A fast start from the Reds saw them dominate the opening half-hour and Jordan Henderson swept home his first goal of the season to put the home team in front, but when West Brom equalised through Craig Dawnson after a Simon Mignolet error, the Reds lost their momentum.
It was the Baggies who continued to threaten and only a much-delayed offside flag deprived them of a lead before the break—but that only delayed the away side’s progress, as another set-piece goal saw Jonas Olsson head them ahead.
Liverpool threw on offensive reinforcements and were buoyed by the sight of eight minutes being added on at the end of the game, largely due to Dejan Lovren‘s injury, and Origi pounced to hit a deflected effort from range five minutes into the additional period.
It wasn’t enough for the win and the two points dropped is another opportunity missed at home for the Reds.
Here are five talking points from the game at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp‘s Belief
The biggest talking point around the game came in the final minutes and directly after full-time: Jurgen Klopp turning to the Anfield faithful after Origi’s goal went in and embarking on a fist-pumping, crowd-encouraging rant to urge the fans to roar on in their support of the team.
The German manager has already preached his wish that the fanbase should be turned from doubters into believers and this was another step: proof (or at least an indication) in the manager’s eyes that there was quality and mental steel in the squad which is capable of pushing for an extra goal until the very end.
When he has that properly transmitted to the players, they’ll believe it and continue looking for the late equaliser—or winner; when the fans believe it too, they’ll in turn push the players on in the closing stages.
After the final whistle went, Klopp and his players linked arms to salute the Kop for their support.
It’s a move which has divided opinion but the intention is clear: create a bond between players and fans wherever possible and get each to be thinking positively of the other.
It was no doubt an opportunistic move from the boss and whether it’s an ongoing theme remains to be seen—but one thing’s for sure, Anfield was extremely loud and suddenly full of belief in the last few minutes of the game.
Nothing New with Simon
Klopp continues to give his backing to Mignolet, but for Liverpool fans watching the game it was a horrible ongoing replay of the Belgian goalkeeper’s shortcomings.
The Baggies’ first goal came after he flapped at a set-piece delivery, missing the ball completely and watching Dawson score from close range seconds later.
Within the next three minutes Mignolet had twice more been called into action outside his area with the ball at his feet, with the home fans nervously holding their breath as to what they’d see happen next.
From failing to hold routine shots to shanking passes out of touch and the all-too-often-seen lack of connection on the punch, Mignolet’s errors are as varied and memorable as some of his most spectacular and vital reflex saves have been.
In the post-game press conference Klopp again defended his goalkeeper, noting he had told Mignolet at half-time that the blame lay with the manager himself.
“I want a goalkeeper who tries to get the ball,” he said. “He tried, it’s not a problem. They have six, seven players who are 6’5″ or so, it’s difficult.”
That might be the case, but there are plenty of goalkeepers who try to get the ball, and do so, with more regularity and authority than Mignolet manages.
It continues to feel as though Klopp is backing his ‘keeper as he has no other choice, rather than genuinely voicing legitimate opinions.
Defending Set Pieces
Another Klopp phrase after the match was much closer to the truth: “It feels as though 98 percent of the goals we concede are from set pieces!”
For Reds fans, that has been the case for about five years, with Martin Skrtel and Co. never really seeming to have command of the situation and unable to react quickly enough when second balls drop inside the penalty area.
Despite West Brom frequently leaving three players or more back for set pieces in the first half, every Red shirt was back inside the box on each occasion—and still they couldn’t react in time to block or clear the ball for the first goal, and conceded again after failing to win the initial header on West Brom‘s second.
It’s one of the basics of play which has plagued Liverpool for far too long and it has to be hoped that Klopp and his team work on it consistently and diligently to improve matters.
That said, it’s probable that each manager in turn has tried to rectify this particular problem, with little success.
At some point it will have to be acknowledged that after systems, decisions and set-piece arrangements have been changed, the only remaining factor to alter is personnel who have been there consistently throughout the period when it has been an issue.
The skipper brought an energy and impressive link-up play to the Reds’ good start to the game and it was encouraging to see him race into the box and beyond the forward more than once even before he swept home from close range.
His quality and energy didn’t endure for the entire match, perhaps unsurprising given the conditions and the way the match played out, but there was certainly plenty of reason to believe that Henderson can help take the team up another notch, both in terms of final-third effectiveness and tactical improvement.
Dropping Anfield Points?
After an impressive run of games saw Liverpool take eight wins from nine, the Reds have now lost one and drawn two of their last three.
It also means just one of the last four home Premier League games have been won by Klopp’s team, with West Brom joining Crystal Palace and Southampton in recently stopping the Reds tasting victory on home soil.
Klopp claimed that the late goal made the single point won feel more important than it was, not because the draw was a great result but instead because it showed the team there was a way through against teams who played and defended in the style that Tony Pulis’ side did.
Every goal scored and point taken is seen by Klopp as a progression toward where he wants the team to go, and a 95th-minute equaliser certainly comes under that category.
Two points dropped in the scheme of things, but with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur both losing this weekend, the late surge and resulting goal from Origi helps the Reds make up ground on their rivals nonetheless.