WEST BROM 0 – 0 LIVERPOOL
What can I say now? I think I’ll go with what you all most likely are thinking… “we should have won”. We got a single point, but we could and should have had all three. As Liverpool drew, on the same day Manchester City won their game against Aston Villa and gained two more points on Liverpool as we keep chasing after 4th place – which looks much more unlikely to happen, even at this stage before we’ve played the remainder of our games on the fixture list. We’re the ones who are supposed to be gaining the points, not letting the teams above us race ahead and make our challenge even more challenging. It’s been a long, hard season.
This game had the potential to be truly great. For one thing, there was a couple of records that Steven Gerrard was involved with. First of all, the guy was about to play his 500th league game (not counting cup or European games etc) for Liverpool – something which only Jamie Carragher and Ian Callaghan had achieved with the club. Everyone else who ever played for us only had played less than 500 league games. So, Steven Gerrard was about to become the 3rd player to do this for Liverpool. Also, he has scored 183 goals and now needs another goal to move ahead of Robbie Fowler into 5th place on the list of all-time highest goalscorers for Liverpool in the history of the club. Had he scored, it would have been a VERY memorable day for Stevie G. Unfortunately, there were no goals. Not from Gerrard. Not from anybody.
The lineup as already mentioned consisted of Steven Gerrard as captain, Martin Skrtel who has also returned from his suspension (as Gerrard did) and even Jordon Ibe has made a comeback after returning from injury. Mario Balotelli would be given a chance as Daniel Sturridge has been struggling with injury recently leaving the strikers position open for other squad members like Mario.
The first half started well enough. Balotelli seemed to be working hard and was fighting to win the ball often, and winning free kicks early on. He could have been a hero if he had just put the ball in the net, but alas – he did not do so. One more chance given to him to prove himself by scoring in front of the Liverpool fans and one more chance wasted by the end of the 90 minutes. This from the player who was supposed to be “Luis Suarez’s replacement”, the reason he made his transfer to Liverpool. People had wanted him to score as many as Luis. It never happened, not yet… but it’s still his first season.
Mario has shown his dissatisfaction with people who criticise him publicly before, but I’m not saying any of this to pick on him. I need to talk about how he could possibly be improving, the ways he has not let us see the best from him – but that it’s coming! We’re expressing the views that he has not lived up to the full expectations of fans or shown his full potential yet, but we are excited to see what comes next for him, I’m certainly not bashing him for the sake of bashing someone. I don’t particularly enjoy “talking trash” about people, or footballers. It’s also not all bad things I have to say.
A big difference between Suarez and Balotelli worth mentioning is the fact that Suarez seemed to move around the pitch tirelessly to create and take his chances, finishing well every time. Balotelli sometimes seems a little lazy, simply waiting around for the ball to come to him so he can shoot (and usually miss or not score). If he was even taking the chances and finishing when the ball finally came to him as he waited in his stationary position, it would increase his goal total and he’d seem like a better player to most fans, people would be less inclined to criticise him or the way he plays. It just hasn’t happened for him since he signed for us, only on a few occasions has he truly lived up to the expectations of our fans and shown the true potential he has.
Having said that, Suarez signed for Liverpool in the 2010-2011 season and only managed to score 4 goals in his first season, from 13 appearances. They were all in the league. Mario has scored 4 goals but 2 of them were in European competition, 1 was in the league cup and only 1 league goal to claim as his own and in 26 appearances, not 13. The differences are quite apparent, though you could say both players were “late starters”, not getting to scoring more than 10 goals a season at least until their second season – I’m hoping we’ll see that happen for Mario as we did for Suarez, but it’s yet to be seen. Give him time and we could still yet see the best possible performances and an improvement to Balotelli’s scoring record in his second season.
Anyway, back to the West Brom game – there was more than just Balotelli on the pitch. Coutinho did well, often linking up with Jordon Ibe throughout the midfield, creating dangerous opportunities which obviously never finished perfectly enough (since we know no goals were scored in the game) to put past the West Brom goalkeeper, though he deserves some credit for keeping a clean sheet against Liverpool.
Emre Can got involved a little also, pushing down the left wing as he got the chance to attack. He had some shots too, either saved or blocked by pesky defenders. Jordan Henderson would be there as vice captain, though still as commanding in midfield as always, taking the ball and spreading it about unselfishly, for his team to have their chances.
The first half ended with several shots attempted from multiple Liverpool players, but as we know – not scored.
The second half would see more attempts from Coutinho, Henderson, Balotelli and even Adam Lallana and Fabio Borini got their chances eventually, after the manager had replaced Ibe and Balotelli with about 20 minutes to go. Raheem Sterling was barely noticeable in this game, he just didn’t show his best form or was passing the ball away to people in better positions for shots.
It’s difficult to pick a “Man of the Match” for games like this, nobody had scored and multiple players had taken their chances but ultimately, wasted them all and we saw no goals at all from them. However one player stood out as really showing his abilities – Jordon Ibe.
Ibe is such a dangerous player, always getting in to really great spots where he can try to score and he did actually hit the crossbar before the final whistle, in this game. I hope to see him gain a regular spot in our first team and become a part of a new Liverpool midfield – one that will have to deal with not having Steven Gerrard from next season onwards. Can Ibe fill the hole left by our current captain leaving? Well, maybe that’s Jordan Henderson’s job as vice captain and most likely soon to be full captain too. However Ibe’s looking very promising and shall be someone I look forward to watching in future fixtures. He did great and almost got us the winning goal we desperately needed to take all three points, only being denied by the goal itself, not the goalkeeper in it – Jordon had beaten him. A little lower and it would have been in. Credit to the young star. You were my Man of the Match.
Anyway, a point gained from this game pushed us up to 58 points, currently only 7 points behind Man United who are in 4th place. We still sit in 5th, ahead of Tottenham only because we have a slightly better goal difference than them, they’re equal on points with us and anything they will be doing (like scoring and winning), we will have to be doing also just so that we stay ahead of them and don’t sink down to 6th or lower. We really need the teams above us to be losing some of their up and coming fixtures, especially Man United, Arsenal and even Man City. Chelsea seem to have pushed their gap as league leaders to about 10 points and their fans will probably will claim already that they’re going to be Champions. Anything can and does happen in football, though. You can’t take anything for granted.
The next fixture for Liverpool will see us travel to Hull on a Tuesday night for another Premier League game which we will need to get as many points as we can from. Not much of a rest for the players, but hopefully we can just put this goalless draw behind us and go on to claim a victory as soon as possible.
Okay fans, that about wraps it up. Keep walking on with hope in your hearts, Reds. You’ll never walk alone, either! Your Anfield Family is walking with you, every step of the way.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.