West Bromwich Albion 0 - Liverpool 1
Deja vu. WBA end of season version 2017 looks remarkably similar to the 2016 model. The narrative is 'We are a small club, therefore we have limited resources, therefore we have a small squad, therefore we should have low expectations, therefore 44 points and survival is a great season for a club like ours.' I understand all that. I am grateful we are not Sunderland. But is that the club the Chinese want?
BTW, has Foster been watching too much ice hockey? Is pulling your goalie for an outfield player the new Pulis tactic?
Time for golf I think.
Actually, despite only one goal and a lot of niggling fouls from both sides it wasn't a bad game to watch and Albion could, and maybe should, have come away with a point. But at the end of the day we have to remember that most professional footballers are like workers in any other industry - they do the minimum amount of work commensurate with not getting the sack, and once they reach 40 points there is no reason (in their minds) to shift their arses more than necessary.
By the way, since he has joined, Livermore has contributed absolutely nothing, at least at home. Is he the new Craig Gardner - i.e. crap but the Manager's favourite (although at least Gardner could shoot).
The goal drought continues.
I thought the starting lineup was a bit negative - Morrison should've started after last week but it was Yacob who came in to join Fletcher and Livermore with HRK chosen up front over the powerful running of Rondon. Did we really need 3 'holding' midfielders at home when we are already safe - and if we did couldn't Field get the nod for some experience?
Despite concerns - we reduced the game quite well in the first half and had the better of the chances. Chadli swiped at air to miss a sitter and HRK just failed to get on the end of one early doors before fluffing a great chance worked through his own great first touch - shooting straight at the keeper with a clear sight at goal from 18 yards.
The Pulis plan seemed to be working OK - we weren't that creative but a few good moves did create chances that better sides take and we should have been 2-0 up although Liverpool flashed a few efforts just wide too.
The referee and linesman made a few incorrect calls against us that riled the crowd - a clear backpass off the knee in the box was missed and HRK was dragged down by Leiva (I think) having got the wrong side of him following an aimless punt, but the fould was given against us.
As the half went on Liverpool took a bit more control and we went to sleep in 1st half injury time to concede an albion-esque set play. It looked like Dawson was the man caught out.
I thought we were pretty poor 2nd half and Pulis made understandable subs - although again the timing and order fo them seemed a bit daft. We couldn't really get into it though and as the game stretched Liverpool should have put the game to bed before Rondon and Phillips combined with the latter failing to convert a very good chance.
The changes eventually improved us but we were chasing the game - our play wasn't great and in injury time Moreno missed an open goal with Foster up for a corner.
So we might have nicked a point, we might have lost by 2 or 3 goals on a different day and our limitations upon going behind were shown up again. Might Leko have given us something different from the bench having shone in this fixture last year? On current form he would do no worse than Chadli and hasn't made any progress this season despite showing so much promise at the end of last. He has to play to learn.
Albion fail to resurrect season in the forty days of Lent (or post reaching the forty point salvation mark, if you like)
In the pre-match spiel, a token few minutes that the BeIN Sports' pundits deigned to give the first of the two games involving two top eight sides that day, we were told that Pulis had said, of his previous game, that people in the stands were more likely to have been hit by the ball than the target, however all three of those to have blazed it high and wide; Chadli, Phiilips and Livermore, remained in his starting XI, with the "rotation of the regulars" seeing Morrison's (read: Albion's only) central attacking threat swapped out for Yacob's coming in as the third defensive central shield, alongside two other like-for-like swaps, Brunt for Nyom and HRK for Rondon.
A fairly forgetful 1st 45, full of 451 folding back flawlessly into 631, would see Albion's extra defensive resources concede an extra time goal from an extra set piece, after a needless foul from Brunt, giving Liverpool their second opportunity of the time allowed for stoppages - the first arising from an equally needless foul by Evans - saw a flick on at the front post take the ball over all of Albion's centrally massed defenders to the far post where Firminho fought off Dawson to finish firmly beyond Foster.
The second forty-five will however have sent the fans home with some memories, not least happy ones through the bouts of laughter that followed not one but two last gasp excursions by Foster into the Liverpool area, both of which resulted in breakaways towards a then unguarded (yes, really, not a defender, defensive midfielder, nor goalkeeper in sight) Albion goal, but neither of which breakaway the away side could get into it.
For the record, our manager's attempts to change the game saw our best creative central midfield player come on as a like-for-like swap for our second best, however with our second best creative central midfield player having long since been turned into an ineffective wide player, Morrison, replacing Chadli, would actually start out with a three-minute ineffective wide player cameo, before all the excitement of a double substitution saw our second best "your first line of defence is your lone striker" forward replaced with our best one, along with Morrison giving way to McClean, albeit via the withdrawal of Yacob, although, as you might expect of a master tactician, left winger McClean would end up playing on the right with our right winger Phillips moving over to the left, which is why, when Albion did have a shot on target in the 80th minute, it would fall to Phillips but fall to his wrong foot and so, whilst it was on target and so didn't threaten the fans behind the goal, it didn't threaten the Liverpool keeper, nor his goal either.
Albion, of course, remain in eighth place, although with Everton, in seventh, now pulling well away and Southampton - still able to catch us from ninth - unable to make up any ground in this round of fixtures, it would be pointless to expect any changes, in personnel or approach, from our recent pointless run as we enter the next few of the seemingly pointless end-of-season games. Then again, maybe there'll be something by way of hope for the "children", post-Easter.
Class report Kev!! Loved it. If you stand on June 8th you have my vote.
Fine margins tho. Had Chadders not missed the tap in and HRK taken his chance, we are 2 up. Then Fred Karno's takes over with 2 crazy fouls in added time from the same spot. First half Liverpool were frustrated. Second half first 20 mins Liverpool dominated as we felt sorry for ourselves.
And sorry Kev, the Phillips miss was bad. Left foot, right foot, they should be put away. Forget dink - lash it man.
Lets splash cash in the summer and get more quality all over the park. It is needed.
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