Two changes for the Tricky Reds today, with Mo and Curtis coming in for Taki and Baby. You wouldn’t normally change a team that won 7-0 last time out, but I suppose that Mo can’t be left out too long while the fact that Baby wasn’t even on the bench suggests that he may have picked up a knock… for a change.
Fat Sam has a reasonably good record against Jürgen: since the German arrived at Anfield, Allardyce has managed a win and three draws, with only two defeats. That win was, of course, our last home defeat in the league, when our adipose adversary guided Crystal Palace to a 2-1 victory in 2017.
West Brom lined up with three wide receivers on the left for the opening kick off; pity that they lack a quarterback. After their initial flurry, the Baggies were soon on the back foot and the game turned into attack v defence.
Robbo whipped in a cross that was inches beyond Mo; the Egyptian and Bobby looked lively, ably supported by the wide boys. Then, in the 12th minute, Matip delivered a lovely curling pass, which Sadio chested down and struck past Johnstone on the half volley. 1-0 to the good guys.
We should have been awarded a penalty when Furlong had Sadio in a bear hug in the box but, as usual, nothing was given. Had it been Kane or Fernandes in that position, we all know what the outcome would have been.
Our dominance was such that it looked as if Joel and Fabinho would soon set up camp on the edge of the visitors’ box- we were penning them so deep that Alisson was often the only person in the Liverpool half. Mané glanced a header wide right; Trent struck a free kick wide left; Mo smashed one over.
And yet the floodgates didn’t open. As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, it beggared belief that there was still only one goal in it, despite the home side having 84% of the possession.
Furlong, who appeared to be assigned to man-marking Sadio, had made a few crucial interventions and Evans had also made some last-ditch clearances; the problem with living on the edge is that eventually you’ll fall off.
After Henderson almost started the second half with a bang, his shot from the edge of the box swerving narrowly wide, West Brom finally started committing men forwards briefly but our bearded Brazilian didn’t have any serious saves to make.
Matip pulled up with a groin injury just before the hour Mark, meaning another appearance for young Rhys Williams. At least the senior man managed to walk off unaided; hopefully he won’t be out for too long.
Jürgen was then booked for remonstrating too vociferously for the referee’s liking after a foul was awarded against Rhys; I certainly couldn’t see what the youngster was supposed to have done.
Salah headed over from eight yards when unmarked; Grant then outpaced Williams but couldn’t beat Alisson. It was the breakaway chance the visitors had been looking for and it had gone a-begging.
Trent hit a long range free kick just over the angle with twelve minutes left on the clock; Diangana then snuck a toe in before Salah could shoot. Jones needlessly gave the ball away and Ajayi headed home, in off the post, from the resulting corner. The defender looked offside to me but no VAR check, of course.
Ox replaced Jones- a few minutes too late- immediately after the goal and almost found the car park with his first attempt on goal. Trent’s deflected cross almost looped over Johnstone but the keeper managed to pluck it out of the air.
Johnstone then got his fingertips to Bobby’s far post header. Big Div came on for Bobby as we entered four minutes of stoppage time
In the end, it wasn’t the most impressive performance from the Champions but it’s never easy when your opponents have ten men behind the ball all game. The Palace game showed what we can do to teams who try to take us on; it is only to be expected that nobody else is going to try that any time soon. Still, it’s disappointing to drop two points in a game we completely dominated.
Next up is a trip to Newcastle on Wednesday night; batter the barcodes and we will be top going into the new year, which is never a bad place to be.
MOTM: Tomás Roquette, son of the owners and head winemaker at Quinta do Crasto. Their ports are among the very best available but their red wine represents excellent value for money… the estate’s olive oil is truly spectacular but very hard to find.