A late Christmas gift for Reds fans was not forthcoming as Jurgen Klopp‘s side were held to a frustrating draw at Anfield.
This was a big opportunity wasted, as the Reds paid the price for a careless performance and failing to kill the game off when chances presented.
Here’s how the media reflected on a rare disappointing afternoon at Anfield.
Reporters felt Liverpool were deservedly punished for their sloppiness and missed another key opportunity…
Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones said the Reds “can have no complaints” with the result as it was deserved for an uncharacteristically poor display:
Klopp’s side, who had seen Manchester United and Leicester and Chelsea stumble on Boxing Day, can have no complaints after squandering two points themselves.
They are not used to performances like this. Not at home, not against such limited opposition.
It was a case of the Reds once again falling foul to a “classic Big Sam” performance, in the view of Carl Markham, writing for YahooSport:
There was no fairytale return for the last man to register a league victory on this ground way back in April 2017 but how the game played out was classic ‘Big Sam’.
Liverpool are one of only two top eight clubs – Tottenham the other – not to play a fellow top eight side in between Boxing Day and January 2. The Reds though failed to take advantage of their favourable fixtures as they dropped two points.
Klopp will have expected nine points from nine across the week period with games to come against Newcastle and Southampton. It would’ve allowed the defending champions to further cement themselves at the top of the table as they target successive titles.
The performance shocked the media, who felt the Reds were haunted by an old problem in being unable to break down a deep defence…
Liverpool were poor after the break – as poor as they have been at any time during 2020 – they presented West Brom with the possibility to build momentum and an operator as wily and dogged as Allardyce was never going to refuse it.
Jones assessed that it was a throwback performance to when Liverpool regularly came unstuck in games when facing a deep-sitting defence:
This was a flashback to a different time. To 2017, when a deep-lying defence was the Reds’ kryptonite.
Numerous encouraging Liverpool attacks fizzled out as strikers sought an extra touch only to be outnumbered by a covering defender.
Klopp will have been disappointed that his side only led by a single goal at the break despite registering 84% possession, and they paid the price for failing to put the visitors to the sword as Ajayi headed the equaliser via both posts.
King, along with countless other journalists, was unimpressed with how Liverpool became complacent and paid the price for it:
Liverpool, for reason that Klopp will still be trying to fathom, stopped doing the things they had been doing so well and, gradually, their rhythm disappeared.
It is not too damning to say there was some complacency.
In doing so, they gave themselves the opportunity to snatch an equaliser with eight minutes remaining through Semi Ajayi, while also highlighting a shortcoming that has, on various occasions in recent years, cost Liverpool.
With the front three coming up against a bus parked in the traditional Allardyce style and West Brom defending crosses admirably, it was up to the midfield to provide the ingenuity. Jordan Henderson tried to inject tempo, but Gini Wijnaldum looked tired and Curtis Jones lost his way in the second half.
Timely, then, that Thiago Alcantara is now primed to make his long-awaited return from injury. After all, it was for precisely this type of game the Spaniard was bought.
The potential ramifications of the stalemate on the psychology of the title race were debated…
Bascombe reflected that this was a performance that “offered the title chasers hope”:
Here was a chance to make a statement, guaranteeing they will end the year as they began it, top of the league while others wonder what will stop them.
Instead, they offered the chasers hope.
King reckons the draw could provide a useful wake up call for Liverpool over the need to produce their best levels with greater consistency:
Maybe it will turn out to be a jolt Liverpool need. If they don’t go full throttle for the rest of the campaign, they will be caught.
They remain the outstanding team in the division but, in this year of twists, reputations stand for nothing. That is the lesson to learn.
Matip’s durability issues are a real area for concern and declining the opportunity to bolster that threadbare part of the squad is a huge and unnecessary gamble.