The borrowed Reds were back in top form enjoying a productive week of goals and impressive performances.
But those who did play made up for the lack of action, and here’s the full lowdown.Wilson just can’t stop scoring…
— harry wilson (@harrywilson_) April 22, 2018
The Wales international’s stunning form at Hull continued as he scored a magnificent brace in an incredible 5-5 draw against a Ryan Kent-less Bristol City.
Wilson opened the scoring on a crazy afternoon with a classy goal—starting the move with driving run and neat one-two before finishing it with a brilliant left-footed curler from outside the box.
And after Hull fell 4-2 behind, Wilson stepped up to deliver the key moment which provided the inspiration for the fightback, with an effort of great ingenuity.
Wilson looked certain to cross a free-kick but instead surprised everyone as he whipped a Fabio Aurelio-vs-Chelsea-esque curler into the near-post top corner brilliantly catching out Frank Fielding.
It was a goal that showed everything about Wilson’s confidence in his superb form, which has seen him score seven goals and lay on four assists in 12 appearances.Markovic was also among the goals…
It was less expected but just as pleasing to see the forgotten Serbian on the scoresheet as he netted his first goal for Anderlecht just a day shy of exactly a year on from his last.
Markovic added to his growing case for a regular starting role by grabbing his side’s equaliser in an eventual 2-1 loss to Genk on his return.
Playing on the left of a three-man attack the 24-year-old levelled with a superb finish—showing great composure and accuracy when one-on-one to fire into the top corner.
It was disappointing the goal didn’t count for more but it will give Markovic another welcome confidence boost.There was also bad news with a season-ending injury for Awoniyi…
When your leading scorer and talisman is nowhere to be seen three games running you know something serious is up—and sadly it appears this is the case for Awoniyi.
After three games out it was reported the Nigerian’s season with Royal Excel Mouscron is over due to an injury which will rule him out for six weeks.
It’s a gutting way for the season to finish for Awoniyi, who has been a revelation and come of age in a sensational campaign in which he posted 10 goals and seven assists in 31 appearances.
Awoniyi will hope his form has caught Jurgen Klopp’s attentions for next season—or those of bigger European clubs should another loan move be preferred.Seven more Reds were in action…
Three more European Reds were in action, but it was a winless week for all.
Pedro Chirivella had a rare outing to forget in Willem II’s midfield in a 5-1 loss to Feyenoord—with the Spaniard at fault for the visitors’ second which prompted his early withdrawal.
Divock Origi was limited to a cameo appearance in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach—entering for the last 15 minutes with his side already beaten.
Colombian full-back Anderson Arroyo saw his impressive eight-match winning streak with Real Mallorca B ended as he completed the full game in a 1-1 draw with UD Ibiza.
Four more home-based Reds played, including Connor Randall who was back in action at Hearts after having a rare weekend off last week to recharge.
The defender played the full 90 minutes in a slightly unfamiliar right wing-back role as his side went down 2-1 to Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.
Matty Virtue was in impressive form as Notts County claimed another crucial three points in the push for promotion from League Two with a 4-0 demolition of Corey Whelan-less Yeovil on Saturday.
Finally, Andy Firth continued between the sticks for already relegated National League side Chester City, who went down 3-1 to Maidstone in the penultimate game of a miserable season.Keita Watch
There was only one outing for the soon-to-be Red this week, coming in a 5-2 loss to Hoffenheim which extended RB Leipzig’s winless run to four games.
Keita started on the bench due to his recent back injury but was typically impressive after coming on at half-time—by which time Leipzig already trailed 3-0—as he scored his ninth goal of the season, which you can watch here.
Keita gave his side hope with another superb solo effort to add to the collection—beating two players with slick footwork before rifling a shot which hit the post but went in after deflecting off the ‘keeper.
The luck was deserved after the brilliant initial play but it wasn’t enough to inspire an Istanbul-esque comeback.Liverpool’s Loanees This Week
- Lazar Markovic – Unused sub vs. Standard Liege & played 79 mins, scoring vs. Genk
- Divock Origi – Played 15 mins vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
- Harry Wilson – Played 90 mins & scored twice vs. Bristol City
- Jon Flanagan – Played 90 mins vs. Wolves
- Connor Randall – Played 90 mins vs. Rangers
- Pedro Chirivella – Played 56 mins vs. Feyenoord
- Anderson Arroyo – Played 89 mins vs. UD Ibiza
- Matty Virtue – Played 90 mins vs. Yeovil
- Andy Firth – Played 90 mins vs. Maidstone
- Marko Grujic – Unused sub vs. Nottingham Forest
- Ovie Ejaria – Unused sub vs. Burton
- Corey Whelan – Unused sub vs. Accrington Stanley & Notts County
- Ryan Kent – Left out of matchday squad vs. Hull
- Sheyi Ojo – Left out of matchday squad vs. Millwall
- Taiwo Awoniyi – Injured and out for the rest of the season
- Daniel Sturridge – Ineligible to play vs. Liverpool
- Naby Keita – Played 45 mins & scored vs. Hoffenheim
Despite the frustration on the day, Steven Scragg thinks a draw at the Hawthorns can sharpen the focus for some big nights to come.
It was a side-step taken at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, which could prove to be a useful lesson when it comes to some big nights ahead.
Klopp wasn’t a happy man and he fell into a well-worn trap that some of his predecessors in the manager’s chair at Anfield will see as all-too-familiar.
Being mugged of points by thudding Anglo-Saxon opponents has long been a recognised fault at Liverpool.There is no need to worry
This type of thing happens to us far less than it once did, and in Klopp we have a manager who takes epic umbrage in such circumstances.
Let’s face it, he took the loss of two points on Saturday with a lack of the sort of guarded graciousness we’ve become accustomed to since he arrived at the club.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that, though.
Sometimes it is the right and even brave thing to do, to call someone out for being a bit of a bastard.
They’re like that belligerent work colleague who gets drunk on a work’s night out and calls everyone out for a ‘straightener,’ then wakes up the next morning blissfully unaware of their behaviour the previous evening.
They’ve certainly shown more spirit in the last fortnight than they have over the course of the rest of the season.A timely step to the side?
A side-step taken, before a potentially seismic step forward, can be massively useful.
It can heighten the senses, it can focus the mind, it can sharpen the response.
Yes, it was careless of us to allow West Brom back into a game which should have been packaged up and sent home long before the final whistle blew.
Yes, a sizeable number of the starting line-up in this one won’t start at Anfield against Roma on Tuesday evening—I’d expect five of the side which started on Saturday to be sat on the bench on Tuesday—but it is still a momentum issue.
Changes or not, we move forward as a collective, and we stall as a collective.
Go out there and take the Saturday frustrations out on Tuesday’s opponents.Danny Ings scores a goal, Hallelujah
The feel-good factor on Saturday was provided by Danny Ings, scorer of the most personalised Liverpool goal of the season.
It was a long time in coming, but there had been a few near-misses since he remerged in the Liverpool first team.
Highly likeable and something completely different to what we have in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Ings will take massive confidence from his goal against West Brom. This can only be a good thing.
A wildcard from the bench against Roma, should we need one.
There are support roles to be filled at Liverpool and the candidates could already be at the club.
Ings next goal in Liverpool shirt shouldn’t be another 930 days in the making.The Egyptian Messi?
There is a compelling case to rechristen Lionel Messi, ‘the Argentinian Salah.’
Salah, newly crowned PFA Player of the Year, scored another effortless masterpiece.
The superlatives are running low.
I know that it is a repetitive mantra, but he provides smile-inducing football. We are no one-man team, but it is only right and proper to enjoy Salah and to celebrate him.
He has successfully got me looking forward to one of the most controversial World Cups ever, this summer in Russia.
Seeing Salah pick up the Player of the Year award, from what always seems to be a disgruntled Gordon Taylor when he’s forced to hand over his prized piece of silverware to a Liverpool player, was a joy.
There is a bigger and more collective prize to play for, however.First is first and second is nowhere
Some Reds have been eager to see Liverpool overhaul Manchester United for second place in the Premier League.
The old adage that first is first and second is nowhere is a complex one though.
I don’t glean any bragging rights from finishing above a perceived rival, if you don’t win the league within doing so. That’s strictly ‘Everton behaviour.’
If dropping two points to West Brom means no complacency is shown on Tuesday evening then it will have been a worthwhile occurrence.
Second place has long since stopped being nowhere in football, just as third and fourth places have, but I’m looking for the thrill a big prize and I think we can do it.
One step to the side, but one giant leap forward it needs to be then.
Tuesday can’t arrive soon enough.
Liverpool are preparing for their first Champions League semi-final in a decade, having experienced both joy and misery at this stage before.
The Reds take on Roma twice over the next 10 days, with Anfield hosting the first leg on Tuesday.
It is the biggest game of Jurgen Klopp‘s tenure to date, with a place in the final representing an enormous achievement by all concerned.
It has been 10 long years since we could look forward to such a night—let’s hope the two games match our expectations.
It may not have been the easiest tie on the eye, but there have been few more nerve-wracking occasions at Anfield than the second leg.
The first game at Stamford Bridge was a war of attrition, and bar one glaring miss by Frank Lampard, neither team ever looked like scoring.
It was perfectly poised for the return fixture, and the atmosphere on Merseyside remains the greatest ever in the eyes of many supporters.
Luis Garcia’s early ‘Ghost Goal’ ended up being the difference, but Chelsea‘s dominance on the ball was almost unbearable to watch as the match progressed.
Eidur Gudjohnsen’s last-gasp miss remains a heart-stopping moment to this day, but Rafa Benitez’s men held on to reach their first European Cup final since 1985.
The small matter of Istanbul happened next…Liverpool vs. Chelsea – 2007 (Liverpool won 4-1 on pens)
Two years after that glorious night, Liverpool and Chelsea again found themselves up against each other in the semis, at a time when their rivalry was one of Europe’s most bitter.
Many fancied the west Londoners to get their revenge, but the Reds thrived as underdogs and Benitez out-thought Jose Mourinho tactically.
This time, Chelsea managed to take a lead into the second leg, with Joe Cole’s strike putting them in control, especially with Liverpool failing to score an away goal.
The unrivalled Anfield noise didn’t disappoint again, and when Daniel Agger produced a perfect finish midway through the first half, scenes of unbridled joy took place in the stands.
Both teams had chances to win it before extra-time was required, and similarly the tie could have been sorted prior to a penalty shootout. Dirk Kuyt hit the crossbar and also had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Penalties were called for, however, and while Bolo Zenden, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Kuyt all scored, Lampard was the only Chelsea player to convert his effort.
Kuyt struck the decisive spot-kick after Pepe Reina denied Geremi, and a second final in three years beckoned.
Sadly, it was payback for AC Milan.Liverpool vs. Chelsea – 2008 (Chelsea won 4-3 on agg.)
Five words to send a chill down your spine: John Arne Riise’s own goal.
When Kuyt, so often Liverpool’s big-game player, scruffily fired the Reds in front in the first leg, a hugely anticipated final against Man United felt likely.
Benitez’s side looked to have got half of the job done, but Riise’s stoppage-time howler undid all their hard work, as the left-back stooped low and headed the ball into his own net.
It was a killer blow in the tie, but Liverpool did draw 1-1 in normal time at Stamford Bridge, with Fernando Torres levelling up Didier Drogba’s opener.
Chelsea just seemed to have a little more left in the tank in extra-time, though, and Lampard’s penalty was added to by another Drogba goal.
There was still time for Ryan Babel to give Liverpool hope with a long-range effort—one of the Dutchman’s rare shots that didn’t land in the crowd—but they couldn’t find a third on the night.
The hope will be that Klopp’s Reds can emulate their 2005 counterparts on their way to a sixth European Cup this season.
Salah has been a sensation since swapping Roma for Anfield last summer in a £34.3 million transfer and against West Brom on Saturday he struck his 31st Premier League goal of the campaign, tying the record for a 38-game season.
Liverpool host Roma in the first leg of their semi-final on Tuesday and Salah’s dream is to follow up the recognition he has received from his peers by lifting silverware in Europe.
“My personal ambition is to win something with the team. I always think about the team, I don’t think about myself,” Salah said.
“The most important thing is to win something with the team and we’re very close now with the semi-final. Hopefully we’re going to win.
“The team has helped me a lot because of the way we play. They pass me the ball a lot and always try to find me.”
Salah was recognised at the 45th PFA Awards at Grosvenor House in central London on Sunday evening after taking the vote ahead of Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.
But for City boss Pep Guardiola it is De Bruyne who should have been acclaimed due to his achievements over the course of the entire season.
“I know my opinion about this awards. If he (Kevin) doesn’t win, congratulations to the guy who is going to win,” Guardiola said.
“From my point of view when you are analysing nine, 10 months, there was no player better than him.
“Maybe there are guys with numbers better than him but for me in the team that wins (the title) with five games to go, he was the best.
“I would like to feel he deserves it. But in the end, in summer time he will be at home being champion.”
Leroy Sane – named Young Player of the Year – and David Silva were also City players on the six-man shortlist, with outstanding Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Tottenham striker Harry Kane completing the nominees.
The Reds host their Italian opponents in the semi-final first leg on Tuesday, with Anfield sure to cook up a sensational atmosphere.
It is quite comfortably both sides’ biggest match of the season, with a place in next month’s final in Kiev up for grabs.
Dzeko and Salah are sure to be two of the most pivotal figures on show, with their attacking prowess so important for their sides.
The Egyptian will come up against his former club, having joined Liverpool last summer to enjoy the most spectacular opening season in the club’s history.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Dzeko was full of praise for the Reds’ star man, and admits his absence is being felt at Stadio Olimpico.
“First of all it’s such a shame he left here, but obviously he had to go.
“At the end he did right because he’s doing some amazing things in the Premier League, which is not the easiest league to play in.
“Mo-Mo’s a great player and a great guy and hopefully he can break some records this year because 40 goals in England is a lot.
“Last year I scored 39 goals. This year I scored, let’s say, only 20.
“I’m very happy for him that he left—but we are missing him.”
It is sure to be another nerve-jangling occasion at Anfield, as Liverpool bid to reach their first Champions League final for 11 years.
Salah’s impact is going to be so vital, with the 25-year-old right up there with the world’s most in-form players.
To score 41 goals this season is an astonishing achievement, and downing his former club over the next two of weeks will further add to his legend.
You certainly wouldn’t bet against it given the campaign he is enjoying.
However, he is not worried standards have slipped ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg at home to Roma so there is no reason to panic.
Jurgen Klopp’s side appeared to be coasting to the first of two victories needed to absolutely guarantee their top-four place thanks to injury-plagued Danny Ings’ first goal in 930 days and Mohamed Salah’s 31st Premier League strike of the season.
That goal equalled the record set for a single campaign by Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14) with three matches still to go.
But any celebrations were cut short as the Baggies hit back in the final 11 minutes with both their goals from Jake Livermore and Solomon Rondon coming from a corner and a free-kick.
While the manner of the goals hurt, Van Dijk said it did not mean Liverpool had returned to the dark days of set-piece susceptibility, especially as three of the back four had played only bit-parts in recent months.
“Everyone gets upset. No-one wants to concede at the last, even concede at all. The way we conceded those goals is something to be angry about,” he said.
“We need to be honest with ourselves and everyone was. We need to do better. You have to tell each other the truth, you cannot be nice and happy when we want to achieve so much as a team, as a club.
“A draw here is not good enough but there is no reason to panic.”
Roma have former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko as the spearhead of their attack but Van Dijk stressed there was no reason to be concerning themselves specifically with the 6ft 3in forward.
Instead they just have to remind themselves of what worked well previously in bringing nine clean sheets in their previous 14 games.
“I haven’t watched too many Roma games to be fair. I have not played against Dzeko before but everyone knows the result against Barcelona,” added the Holland captain.
“We know they have a lot of quality and we know about most of the players, so we need to be ready for anything.
“I am not worried at all. We need to keep doing what we did in the last games and recover now and focus on Roma now from Monday.”
Klopp is confident his players will be up for the task without the added motivation of righting their wrongs against West Brom.
“We don’t need help like this. We don’t have to tell them it was not good enough and they can do better. It will be a completely different game,” said the Reds boss.
“If you play a bad game here or if you don’t create chances that is then a problem but in the moment the disappointment is so big because it should not happen.”
On whether the method of the Baggies goals will give Roma inspiration he added: “They have set-pieces as well but they don’t play only set-pieces. They sometimes play it on the ground and then you can play football.”
Liverpool have enjoyed some excellent spring form of late, but who have been their five standout players over the last six matches?
The Reds could only draw 2-2 away to West Brom on Saturday lunchtime, blowing a two-goal lead in frustrating fashion at the Hawthorns.
We have looked back through our player ratings archive to see who Liverpool’s best players have been in their last six games—Crystal Palace (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), Man City (A), Bournemouth (H) and West Brom (A)—as their season goes from strength to strength.
Here are the top five, with Mohamed Salah incredibly not included…
(NB: Players must have featured in at least four of the six games to be in contention.)=4. Sadio Mane – 7.58 (out of 10)
Some supporters have actually been critical of Mane’s form this season, despite the Senegalese scoring 17 goals and being a vital part of Liverpool’s attacking unit.
Granted, he wasn’t at his very best before Christmas, but his level has gone up significantly since the turn of the year.
His inch-perfect header helped the Reds thump City at Anfield, he set up Salah’s all-important away goal at the Etihad and he also opened the scoring away to Palace and at home to Bournemouth.
Mane has been usurped by the freakish Salah and brilliant Roberto Firmino since August, but he is still thriving in his own right.=4. Virgil van Dijk – 7.58
Few signings have made a more immediate, noticeable impact at Liverpool than Virgil van Dijk, with the giant centre-back making an enormous difference.
He was crucial in City managing just one shot on target over two legs, and was similarly imposing away to Everton in a forgettable Merseyside derby.
Without the 26-year-old around, the second half of Liverpool’s season could be panning out very differently.3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7.75
It has been a superb first year at Liverpool for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has silenced the doubters and proved to be a key man.
He took some time to settle after moving from Arsenal, but as this form guide shows, he has grown significantly in recent times.
The England international’s superb strike in front of the Kop against City was his high point of the last six matches, but his all-round game has impressed so much.
His ability to run at defences, link up with the front three and work his socks off have all caught the eye, and he brings something different to the midfield.2. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.87
It wasn’t too long ago that Trent Alexander-Arnold was being criticised for defensive errors, but look how far he has come.
The teenager actually didn’t start the last six games too well, following a mistake against Palace, but he was excellent in the second half and has shone ever since.
His two performances against City were unbelievably impressive, considering the magnitude of the occasion and the fact that he was tasked with keeping the dangerous Leroy Sane quiet.
Alexander-Arnold was almost immaculate in both legs, while against Bournemouth his wonderful pass allowed Salah to loop a header into the net.
In a star-studded squad, a 19-year-old local lad has nearly been Liverpool’s star man since Palace away.1. Andrew Robertson – 8
Amazingly, Andrew Robertson comes out on top for the third time in a row, which highlights what a fantastic signing he has been.
The Scot has been an absolute model of consistently all season long, and to average eight out of 10 since the Palace game shows he is still going strong.
His lovely assist for Salah at Selhurst Park was a key contribution, he was arguably Man of the Match in the first game against City.
Robertson has only played in four of the six games, which may skew things ever so slightly, but he is maturing into the Premier League‘s best left-back.
Three on the spin for the likeable 24-year-old!
Liverpool committed errors reminiscent of their past, seeing a two-goal lead dissolve as they were held to a 2-2 draw by West Brom on Saturday.
There is little denying that Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final first-leg clash with AS Roma was on his mind, however.
It was far from a disastrous result, but it is one that provides food for thought both for the arrival of the Italian outfit and for Klopp ahead of the summer transfer window.
JACK: The obvious highlight was Ings’ goal. I can’t see him being at the club beyond the summer but you could tell how much it meant him after such a miserable time over the past two-and-a-half years.
It was also encouraging to see how comfortable Van Dijk was on the right-hand side of the centre-back pairing, particularly with his long, raking passes up to Mane in attack.
He’s at his best on the left but this provides Klopp with more options as he builds his defence for the long term; Van Dijk is just an exceptional defender.
And even though the result wasn’t ideal, resting Trent, Robertson, Lovren, Ox and Firmino for most of the game was the right decision ahead of Tuesday night.
MATT: Both goals: it was fantastic to see Ings on the scoresheet—he deserved that moment for all his hard work and determination.
The Salah goal was a moment of quality, too, with a perfect pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The main thing for me is that there were no injuries ahead of what is clearly a far more important game on Tuesday, and having the luxury of being able to rest Firmino ahead of the semi-final.
GEORGE: I think I speak for every fan when I say it was wonderful to see Ings score his first goal for Liverpool since October 2015.
The striker has had some absolutely rotten luck with injuries since moving to Anfield and has found first-team opportunities hard to come by, so that’s certainly something for him and us fans to smile about.
I’ve run out of superlatives for Salah this season, with the Egyptian once again finding himself on the scoresheet and on the verge of breaking the record for the number of goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
Mo will be desperate to score against Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday; finding the net at the Hawthorns will fill him with confidence and is the perfect preparation for a talisman going into a big match.
Klopp will be thrilled that none of his players sustained any injuries ahead of the upcoming clash with Roma.
Van Dijk looked to have taken a small knock in the first half, but ran it off and didn’t require any medical attention, whilst there appeared to be no damage to any of the other Liverpool players.The bad…
JACK: No point dwelling on that result as it’s far from the end of the world and all the focus is on the Champions League now.
A draw in this game, as with in the Merseyside derby at Goodison, can still be seen as a positive, though the manner in which Liverpool collapsed after taking a two-goal lead could be a concern.
Though Moreno seems to be taking the majority of the criticism I thought Gomez had a shocker, but hopefully that’s now out of his system after injury. He was clearly lacking sharpness.
Obviously the main negative was just how poor the refereeing was but, again, is there any point brooding over it now?
MATT: Karius went missing on the equalising goal, in what was a rare error for him in recent months.
He’s been good for a sustained period but moments like this are why I would still invest heavily in one of the best in the world in the summer (we’ll get to see one of them in the semi-final in the form of Brazilian stopper Alisson).
The referee had a game to forget too—how he didn’t give a penalty on Ings is beyond me, and how Ahmed Hegazi got a free-kick for punching him is crazy.
GEORGE: I’m not one to moan about referees, but that was a really poor performance from Stuart Atwell—he missed several key moments over the 90 minutes and his decision-making was absolutely dreadful.
Had we beaten West Brom, there would have been less pressure on the team to get a win and three points next time out against Stoke in order to solidify a top-four position.
This means it’s likely Klopp will have to start with a stronger team than he would have liked, which is frustrating considering that the Reds have the second leg of the Champions League semi-final in Rome just four days later.
It would have been ideal to be able to rotate players before the second match against Roma, but now I highly doubt that Jurgen will be prepared to rest players against Stoke and risk dropping any more points.And what did that tell us about Liverpool’s fringe players?
JACK: The squad needs improving, that’s clear. The injuries to Matip, Clyne, Can and Lallana are obviously a big blow but beyond the first-choice side there is a real lack of quality.
It was great to see Ings score, but his overall performance was seriously lacking, and while there are few strikers in world football who are on par with Firmino he is far from adequate backup.
Again, without Can and Lallana there weren’t many other options in midfield, but Klopp’s reluctance to include Woodburn highlights a lack of faith beyond the core group.
Bar a new partner for Van Dijk and a deep-lying midfielder, I’d say the main priority this summer will be fleshing out Klopp’s squad ranks.
MATT: Ings was much better with the quality of Mane and Salah alongside him, but Moreno did nothing to suggest he should be in the side more often.
He started the season well but this was the old Moreno.
Klavan did fine but is limited on the ball as we already knew; Lovren will come straight back in.
GEORGE: Moreno didn’t really offer anything from both a defensive and attacking perspective. I would imagine Jurgen will let him leave in the summer as it looks like he is surplus to requirements at Anfield.
Klavan again proved he can do a job when called upon and did reasonably well in his battle against the very physical and bulky Rondon.
Gomez didn’t put in the best performance on his return from injury. He’ll need to get back to full fitness sharply if he’s going to play a part in the business end of the season.
Going forward, I think he needs to play at centre-back rather than right-back, as being paired with Van Dijk will improve him hugely as a player, as it has Lovren.
Ings scored for the first time in 930 days with a proper poacher’s goal, but should have had two and hit a shot straight at Foster late in the first half.
I’m not too sure where I think his long-term future lies, as he’s 26 and isn’t ever going to be selected ahead of Firmino, but I’m happy to see him back playing and on the scoresheet.
Liverpool produced a wholly mixed display as they once again shone in attack but defensive flaws returned as they drew 2-2 with West Brom.
With the manager making five changes from the full-strength side that won 3-0 at home to Bournemouth last weekend, this drop-off in quality will perhaps have been expected.
Any lessons learned from this game will likely be more for Klopp over the summer rather than in the buildup to Tuesday’s clash with AS Roma, but it was a telling display.
But what did the media, fans and statisticians make of the Reds’ 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns?
Having netted his 41st goal in a remarkable campaign, it is no surprise to see Salah (7.1) rated as the standout performer once again, despite a largely quiet afternoon.
Ings’ strike clearly boosted his assessment too (6.9), with Sadio Mane (6.8) perhaps the most well-deserving of his high mark.
Virgil van Dijk (6.7) was head and shoulders above the rest of the defence, and it is telling that both Gomez (5.8) and Moreno (4.9) are among the lowest-rated players.
Moreno was deemed the worst of the starting lineup at the Hawthorns, with the left-back the only player not be given a seven-out-of-10 rating by any publication.
Gomez’s ratings varied wildly, with the 20-year-old handed an eight out of 10 by Sky Sports but only four out of 10 from The Anfield Wrap’s John Gibbons, who described him as “very lazy.”
Interestingly, beyond Salah, James Milner is the highest-rated Liverpool player on a statistical level, which contrasts with his modest average (6.4).
Moreno was also rated the worst by WhoScored, with the Spaniard failing to create a single chance, making just one tackle and completing just 76.7 percent of his attempted passes, with only Salah and Ings finding their target with fewer.
The ratings of the This is Anfield readers lower the averages significantly, with Gomez and Moreno both heavily criticised.
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan admits Liverpool were the team he least wanted to draw in the Champions League semi-finals.
The Reds face the Italian giants in a monumental last-four clash, with the first leg taking place at Anfield on Tuesday night.
The two sides got the better of Man City and Barcelona in the quarter-finals respectively – two results that came as a surprise to many across Europe.
Although Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, the other two semi-final occupants, are arguably stronger than Liverpool on paper, it is the Reds who Nainggolan says he feared facing the most:
“I wasn’t happy with the draw, because in my view Liverpool were the toughest team out of the three.
“It’s not that they have more quality than Real Madrid or Bayern, but they put a lot of hard work in and have nothing to lose. Real and Bayern might’ve underestimated Roma, but Liverpool are warriors, a bit like us.
The Belgium international also had some nice words to say about former teammate Mohamed Salah, who he clearly still thinks highly of:
“I spoke to Salah and he couldn’t believe we’d beaten Barcelona either! He was joking on Instagram that we’ll never hear the end of Kostas Manolas saying he scored the winning goal.
“It’ll be nice to see Momo again, we had a good rapport. He’s a good guy, sweet and respectful, as well as being an excellent player.
“I am not surprised by his success at Liverpool, as he always had the quality. The only difference now is perhaps he’s got more opportunities and also learned to keep a cool head in front of goal. I’m a fan of his.”
Tuesday’s game is set to be a stunning occasion on Merseyside, as Anfield hosts one of its biggest matches this century.
Liverpool are within touching distance of a first Champions League final since 2007, and as Nainggolan alludes to, they should fear nobody.
The Belgian is one of many Roma players who can do damage to the Reds, however, and they will have to find their best level to progress.
The Serie A side have enjoyed a good week, beating Genoa 2-1 on Wednesday before picking up an impressive 3-0 triumph away to Spal on Saturday.
Klopp’s side were held to a disappointing but not calamitous stalemate against the all-but-relegated Baggies.
But late goals from Jake Livermore and Salomon Rondon earned the Baggies a point and denied Klopp’s men an ideal victory ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma.
It was a frustrating result but the Reds still hold a strong position in the top four—eight points ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea—and here’s how the media assessed events at the Hawthorns.
Pleasingly, reporters took objective views of the significance and relevance of the draw…
Our man Karl Matchett rightly assessed that the draw was frustrating but nothing too troubling in the grand scheme of things:
“All told, the draw was frustrating but shouldn’t be too relevant in the wider scheme of Liverpool’s season.”
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle took a positive outlook, noting that the Reds moved a point closer to a top-four finish with an under-strength team and a sub-par performance:
“Liverpool rarely ventured out of second gear while edging a point nearer securing a top-four berth.”
For Goal, Neil Jones explained that the outcome result and particularly the manner of it could prove “a useful warning” ahead of the real important games:
“Jurgen Klopp and his side may have bigger fish to fry than West Bromwich Albion, but their sloppiness at The Hawthorns was an unwelcome reminder of what can happen when the Reds take their eye off the ball.
“Ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Roma, this 2-2 draw may serve as a useful warning.”
Reporters were more mixed in their views on the late collapse but felt it highlighted Liverpool’s improvemen…
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe believes the Reds won’t win over those who doubt their title credentials until such collapses are fully wiped out, but noted they are increasingly rare:
“Until such daft and inexplicable calamities are completely eradicated, Liverpool will not convince every doubter.
Jones thinks Roma will have taken encouragement from Liverpool’s struggles to deal with long balls and crosses ahead of Tuesday’s showdown:
“But Roma, you can bet, will have noted the trouble West Brom caused with crosses and long balls.
“Liverpool have defended superbly in recent weeks, keeping nine clean sheets in 14 games prior to this but—the regal Virgil van Dijk aside—they looked shaky when put under pressure. Edin Dzeko, you can bet, will be ready.”
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce was quick to play down sensationalist views of Liverpool’s previous failing returning to haunt them again:
“Frustrating? Yes. Sloppy? Unquestionably. Reason to panic? Behave.”
And Jones followed that by backing the full-strength Reds to respond positively against Roma at Anfield:
“Tuesday will be different. It has to be. The Champions League does something to Anfield, and to the Reds. Standards will be raised, no question.
“Liverpool have come too far to let their old insecurities halt them now.”
On a different note, Doyle felt Klopp showed good management in blaming everything but his players after the game, allowing the squad to turn focus on the first leg without extra scrutiny:
“Klopp raised eyebrows with his post-match protestations about the pitch at The Hawthorns, but it was perhaps good man-management.
“By making the post-match patter about him, he’s allowing his players to turn their attentions on the coming days.”
Reporters discussed Klopp’s late switch to a back three and some felt this was key to the collapse…
This is Anfield’s James Nalton was among those who thought Klopp made an error making the switch as it invited pressure and limited the threat to kill the game off:
“Klopp, though, arguably undid all this by switching to a back three late in the game, and the defence looked uncertain from then on.
“They were made to absorb pressure rather than creating it themselves, and this ultimately encouraged the opposition to attack. Despite this the defence still should have done better.”
ESPN’s Dave Usher felt the decision to withdraw Salah was particularly costly as it took away any counter-attacking threat:
The Mirror’s Alex Richards provided a worrying stat on the impact of the Reds’ struggles to see games out at times throughout the season:
“Those goals ensured Liverpool have now dropped 14 points from winning positions this season, with 10 of those dropped points coming in the last 10 minutes of matches.”
Looking at ways such collapses can be prevented, TIA editor Matt Ladson thinks adding more quality attacking options will help as moving to an unnatural defensive style can then be avoided:
“Up front, more is required so that Mo Salah and Sadio Mane can be rested and rotated.
“Maybe then we can keep the pressure on rather than reverting to a back five in the closing stages, which the team rarely looks comfortable when doing. It’s a cliche, but it’s not in this side’s DNA to play a defensive game.”
Meanwhile, Usher felt Klopp’s decision to make so many changes to the lineup did nothing to help the general performance:
“Jurgen Klopp made more changes than expected and while that wasn’t the only reason for the lacklustre performance it probably didn’t help.”
Certain journalists praised Danny Ings who finally ended his torrid injury run with a goal…
“Ings brings some of the same characteristics—relentless movement, a willingness to press—if not the same quality or a similar goalscoring return.
“Nevertheless, the forward requires a reliable deputy and, if Liverpool do not enter the transfer market for a striker this summer, this performance helped suggest Ings, rather than Sturridge, the exiled Divock Origi or the perennial substitute Dominic Solanke, may be the best candidate.”
Matchett thought Ings’s goal and “good showing overall” was important as the striker needed to prove his worth in his natural position after some stuttering comeback outings:
“It was important for Ings, of course, to show he could offer something to the team, particularly given his central role for this game after an ineffective showing out wide against Everton.
“A good showing overall, and a confidence booster in front of goal which could yet come in handy in the final weeks of the season.”
“It is that he has found his place on the pitch, in that central right channel, barrelling past defenders, constantly on the most direct route to goal.
“It was his pass which released Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s second goal, and while most people’s attention would understandably have been on the Egyptian claiming his 31st strike of the season, one suspects Gareth Southgate will have taken note of the assist with a smile.”
Liverpool’s failure to beat West Brom on Saturday was frustrating, especially the manner of it, but it’s not one to be overly annoyed about.
Draws, I hate them. They cost us the title under Rafa in 2008/09, and simple maths dictates that a win and a defeat is better than two draws.
Of the teams in the top half, only Leicester have drawn as many as Liverpool.
“The gap between us and City was not in the games against City, it was in other games and a few points we missed were kind of unlucky and a few were our own responsibility and we have to work on that.”
Saturday’s draw at the Hawthorns, conceding two goals off set pieces in the final 12 minutes, was due to a number of factors; many eyes were already on Roma, it was a much-changed defence, and there was an absolutely shocking referee in charge.
So how do Liverpool prevent such draws next season and find that consistency Klopp, and all supporters, desire?
Let’s start with the defence. Joe Gomez was making his first start for over a month after injury, and he was poor when tired late on. But he has plenty about him and will remain as a good squad option next season.
On the other side, Alberto Moreno was poor throughout and the Spaniard’s performance showed why he won’t be Anfield next season. Upgrades are required on these types of players if Liverpool are to become a ruthless, consistent machine.
In midfield, we’ve had four players rotating for three positions during the most important stage of the season, which is really not enough.
Meanwhile, Naby Keita was scoring another for Leipzig and showing the quality and attacking output he’ll bring to Merseyside in the summer. He’s very, very unlikely to be the only addition in the middle.
Ruben Neves, Jorginho and Wilfried Ndidi appear to be on the shortlist for adding midfield options. All of them would improve the depth centrally.
Adam Lallana has shown he cannot be relied upon and players whose fitness isn’t up to it need to be shifted on or at the least, their importance to the squad reduced.
Up front, more is required so that Mo Salah and Sadio Mane can be rested and rotated. Adding a top-quality wide player, such as Christian Pulisic or Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, would add a wealth of options.
Maybe then we can keep the pressure on rather than reverting to a back five in the closing stages, which the team rarely looks comfortable when doing. It’s a cliche, but it’s not in this side’s DNA to play a defensive game.
Imagine if Mane was on the bench vs. West Brom and he was introduced as Salah was removed. That’s the type of options we want and need in order to provide the consistency required.
There have been a couple of suggestions from national journalists even this week – the week before Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final, their first in 10 years – that Klopp hasn’t improved this Liverpool side (seriously, it was some journalist called James Nursey in the Mirror). Laughable claims.
Honestly, what planet are these on? Before this, Liverpool had kept eight clean sheets in the last 12 games and conceded just five goals. Those games included quarter-final ties against free-scoring champions Man City.
Ignore ‘opinions’ of this type. Look forward to Tuesday’s semi-final in Europe.
Be frustrated, Klopp clearly was post-match, but he’ll sort the reasons for that in the summer.
However, Jake Livermore and Salomon Rondon, in the 88th minute, snatched a 2-2 draw for the top-flight’s bottom club.
The point did little for the Baggies’ chances of survival such is their deficit with the three matches to go, as they could still be relegated by Sunday, but a win for Liverpool would have left them needing one more victory to guarantee Champions League football.
In amongst the comeback was a Craig Dawson challenge on Ings which Klopp thought should have been a penalty, while another flashpoint early in the second half saw Ahmed Hegazi appear to throw a punch at the striker – missed by referee Stuart Attwell – while they tussled on the ground.
“Useless comeback,” was Klopp’s assessment of West Brom’s late recovery.
“I don’t think that point will help West Brom massively, it is a complete waste of points: they don’t need it, we would have needed it.
“They are happy now, we are not happy. We stay in the league, they don’t stay in the league – it is a strange situation.”
On the match incidents, Klopp told assembled journalists: “On the penalty we agree – and Hegazi on Ings, it is a red card. You see it, I see it, it is not a problem.
“It is only important what three or four gentlemen with a whistle think.
“And the second (West Brom) goal was no foul (for the free-kick which Rondon headed in).”
The Reds boss was also not happy about the state of the playing surface.
“You have to create the best circumstances to help the boys deliver and then we let the home team decide whether they water the pitch or not,” he said.
“It is not only for football it is also dangerous for injuries if the pitch is really dry. I wouldn’t have said nothing about that probably if we had won but it is all you see during the game.”
West Brom caretaker manager Darren Moore took his record to five points from three games, which includes two of the top four, and was encouraged by what he has seen despite the fact they seem destined for the Sky Bet Championship after eight seasons in the top flight.
“Another good result because we as a football club have come together and by us being together it has brought another positive result,” he said.
“The atmosphere in here was superb; the staff, in terms of their preparation, have been great and the players have continued that on to the pitch. Together we have earned that.”
Asked whether not watering the pitch was pre-meditated he added: “It wasn’t a ploy. It was a really hot day today. I was so engrossed in the game in terms of preparation my focus was not about the pitch.”
West Brom 2-2 Liverpool
The Hawthorns, Premier League
April 21, 2018
Goals: Ings 4′, Salah 71′; Livermore 78′, Rondon 87′.Ings ends his mammoth wait
It finally happened: Danny Ings scored again for Liverpool’s senior side!
The striker’s first goal under Jurgen Klopp came early on at the Hawthorns, instinctively swiping home from close range after a corner was worked his way.
The relief and joy on Ings’ face as he sped off celebrating was almost better for away fans to see than the ball hitting the back of the net — 931 days after his last league goal.
It was important for Ings, of course, to show he could offer something to the team, particularly given his central role for this game after an ineffective showing out wide against Everton.
He should have had a second goal shortly before half time, his effort saved by the keeper, but his work rate and movement throughout caused problems for West Brom.
A good showing overall, and a confidence booster in front of goal which could yet come in handy in the final weeks of the season.Recalled full-backs prominent
Both have lacked game time of late, through injury in the case of the former and Andrew Robertson‘s great form for the latter, so a good performance was a must to see further action in the run-in.
Unfortunately for the left-back, that wasn’t really the case.
Moreno was beaten repeatedly down his wing by the dribbling Matt Phillips, as well as missing a few passes in behind.
He failed to cut out crosses and compounded his day by being booked for a late slide on Phillips with 20 minutes to play.
Gomez fared better; his approach play was good and he linked well in the attacking half, and though he made the odd error defensively, Gomez was able to get back and block the would-be cross in most cases.
Aerially he was impressive, clearing crosses toward the far post a couple of times when danger would otherwise have loomed large.
However, he made a critical error in the last minutes: gifting possession, then contributing to a foul, from which West Brom equalised.Worst referee of the season?
This is some competition, given the number of atrocious performances put in by matchday officials across the course of a season.
But Stuart Attwell’s interpretations of the laws at the Hawthorns were bordering on comical, they were so bad.
A spate of first-half tackles, at best late and at worst reckless, went unpunished. Salomon Rondon, in particular, should have been shown a yellow at least for a dreadful lunge toward Ings’ knee area.
In the second half, Ings was then scythed down inside the box, off the ball, by Craig Dawson; a coming-together, said the ref.
If that was dubious, the next incident involving the Reds’ striker was simply abysmal.
Ahmed Hegazi dragged Ings to ground, then punched him in the stomach—all of five yards from the ref. It wasn’t exactly a full-power hammer blow, but that’s utterly beside the point.
Attwell awarded West Brom a free-kick.
A shocking performance which deserves to see him relegated alongside the Baggies.
Atwell was actually demoted as a Premier League referee in 2012, spending two years in the lower leagues before returining as an elite referee in 2014.Personal and collective objectives almost complete
After a reasonably quiet day in and around the penalty area, Mohamed Salah‘s 41st goal of the season in all competitions gave the Reds a buffer in the match.
It was also his 31st in the league, equalling the 38-game record held jointly by Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. One more, and that particular record is Salah’s alone.
In addition, the Reds needed two wins from the last four games to guarantee a top-four finish and looked to be on course to achieve the first—until West Brom‘s improbable late comeback.
The Reds stay in third, eight points ahead of Chelsea who have four games to play.
It’s almost job done, and this was another small step toward assuring Champions League football next season, but it should have been three points instead of one.Critical fitness report: All good – hopefully
All told, the draw was frustrating but shouldn’t be too relevant in the wider scheme of Liverpool’s season.
More crucial was coming through this bruising 90 minutes without picking up injuries, ahead of a first leg of the Champions League semi-final against AS Roma on Tuesday.
That seems to be the case; it would be a surprise if there weren’t a few aching bodies at Melwood over the next day or two, given the amount of rough challenges put in, but the Reds seemed to emerge unscathed.
Virgil van Dijk gave an early scare with a foot knock after a tackle, Salah took an arm to the face and Milner was fouled with frequency, but there didn’t appear any serious worries.
Onward to Tuesday, and to more important matters.
After their comfortable 3-0 win over Bournemouth at Anfield last weekend, the Reds crumbled in their lunchtime clash with Darren Moore’s relegation favourites.
Speaking after the stalemate at the Hawthorns, Klopp insisted his side had not taken their foot off the gas but rued the Baggies’ familiar comeback, saying “now we have to take it.”
“I couldn’t see that the boys finished the game mentally or said ‘OK, that’s it now’ [at 2-0 up],” he said.
“We knew each set-piece can be a real threat, and then it happened. The first goal was after a corner.
“I didn’t see it a second time but it looked similar to our first goal—bam, bam, bam and scored from a short distance.
“The second goal was no foul; [there were] plenty of free-kicks for West Brom in different situations.
“That was not a foul but it was the best position they could get for what they are strong at. Then they scored the second. Now we have to take it.”
Klopp also discussed his five changes and Ings’ goal after a difficult two-and-a-half years, explaining that “it was a very nice game for him, for sure.”
The Reds are next in action on Tuesday night for their crucial Champions League semi-final first-leg clash with AS Roma at Anfield.
With a sixth European Cup in sight, Klopp will be hoping for a much better display from his full-strength selection when they take on their Serie A challengers.
West Brom 2-2 Liverpool
Premier League, The Hawthorns
April 21, 2018
Goals: Ings 4′, Salah 72′; Livermore 79′, Rondon 88′
Loris Karius – 6 (out of 10)
Made a good save in the buildup to the first West Brom goal, but wasn’t helped by his defence for the rebound.
He was in no man’s land for the second as he came for the cross, but was unable to reach it and therefore in no position to make a save.
Often shows good intentions when it comes to sweeping up behind the defence, and despite an off day for the team he still did most things well, bar the moment for the second goal.
Joe Gomez – 5
Not the best display on his first start for over a month. Some sloppy play and it was his poor pass then foul which lead to the free-kick for the second goal as he tired late on.
Virgil van Dijk – 6.5
Van Dijk moved over to the right side of defence but still did what he does; winning headers, being physical, and also good on the ball, with the best passing accuracy of any of any player bar Wijnaldum.
Ragnar Klavan – 6
Good in his battle against the strength of Salomon Rondon, and has proved a useful squad option.
Jurgen Klopp spoke to him at length after the game, suggesting that there were a few areas for improvement.
Alberto Moreno – 5
A return to the team and a return of the rash, overenthusiastic challenges, as opposed to the more considered player seen earlier this season.
Didn’t offer much in attack, either. He should enjoy these games because it’s unlikely he’ll be at the club much longer.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Didn’t do much wrong but the captain should be stepping up to take control of the game in the second half.
Couldn’t assert his control on the midfield or on the game as the whole to help his side secure the three points they had already earned.
James Milner – 5
Plenty of hard work and running, but the fatigue showed with some poor deliveries later on.
The English pair will need to be at the top of their game against Roma’s midfield on Tuesday, and this wasn’t the ideal preparation.
Gets an assist for Ings’ goal but it wasn’t the most intentional of passes.
Back in the more advanced position in midfield, he doesn’t have to get involved as much as he did during his impressive outings as the No. 6, and he doesn’t seem to go looking for the ball.
Mohamed Salah – 7 (Man of the Match)
A constant threat, even if not always a productive one.
Finally gets his goal following a brilliant through-ball from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Entertained the travelling fans with some moments of speed and skill around the area, and gave his compatriot Ahmed Hegazi all sorts of trouble.
Sadio Mane – 6.5
Plays the ball in from the short corner for the first goal, but should have worked his way into these positions more often.
Always direct with his running and the team missed him when he was subbed in the second half.
Danny Ings – 6.5
Scores a good poacher’s goal as the ball bobbled to him in the box early on.
Should have had two, but hit his shot at Ben Foster, and should have had a penalty too.
There was a case for leaving him on the pitch but on a rare start, Klopp opted to introduce Roberto Firmino and got the second goal as a result minutes later.Substitutes
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Mane, 66′) – 7
Excellent assist for Salah’s goal. Perfectly weighted and directed pass.
Roberto Firmino (on for Ings, 66′) – 6
Good linkup play with Oxlade-Chamberlain before the second goal, and was on hand to turn it in should Salah have decided to pass.
Dejan Lovren (on for Salah, 84′) – 4
Drops behind the line on his own for the Rondon goal, playing the striker onside. Came across to challenge but couldn’t get anything on the ball.Manager
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Managed to rotate a few players and still take a two goal lead.
The double sub paid dividends, with Salah moving to the No. 9 role and the two subs and he then combined to make it 2-0.
Klopp, though, arguably undid all this by switching to a back three late in the game, and the defence looked uncertain from then on.
They were made to absorb pressure rather than creating it themselves, and this ultimately encouraged the opposition to attack. Despite this the defence still should have done better.
The changes were sensible and balanced ahead of Tuesday, perhaps though it shows the need for improvements in the summer.
Deflected blame from his players well post-match, focussing instead on the poor refereeing and pitch.Make Your Ratings
Liverpool Unlikely to Lose?
The Reds have an excellent record at the Hawthorns, winning 10 of the last 15 fixtures scoring 31 and conceding nine.
However, after winning eight in a row at West Brom, they have won only two of the last seven.
Liverpool have lost only three of the last 22 visits.
They are unbeaten in the last nine league meetings (four wins, five draws) since losing 0-2 at Anfield in February 2013 with Gareth McAuley and on-loan Romelu Lukaku scoring.Milestones
Firmino is two goals short of registering 50 for Liverpool in all competitions. He could make his 100th league appearance for the Reds.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line to play his 200th career league game.
Ragnar Klavan is one game short of reaching 50 appearances for the Reds in league and cup.Firsts at the Hawthorns
His first Liverpool goal was also against the Baggies at Anfield in a 2-1 win in September 2014.
He was sent off against Albion while with the Saints at St. Mary’s in December 2016.Salah’s Next Records
Mo Salah’s next league goal will see him equal another club record—it will be the 23rd league game this season in which he has scored, equalling the tally set by Roger Hunt in the Second Division in 1961/62.
Salah holds the top-flight record along with John Aldridge and Ian Rush (twice).
His next goal would also equal the Premier League record of most goals in a 38-game campaign. Alan Shearer (1995/96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08) and Luis Suarez (2013/14) all recorded 31 goals.Baggies’ Misery
Since then they have won two of the last 32 in the top-flight and have picked up 18 points from the last possible 96 on offer.
They have recorded two home league wins (and four in the top flight in total), beating Bournemouth 1-0 on the opening day thanks to Ahmed Hegazi’s goal while in January defeated Brighton with Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson netting in the 2-0 victory.Nullify the Strikers
Solomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez have scored their team’s only goals in the last six games—Rodriguez has netted three, one more than his team-mate.New Manager Bounce?
Gary Megson earned two draws in November and Darren Moore has recorded a draw and win in their last two matches.This Season’s Scorers
West Brom: Rodriguez (11), Rondon (9), Dawson (2), Evans (2), Hegazi (2), Phillips (2), Robson-Kanu (2), Barry (1), Chadli (1), Field (1), McClean (1), Morrison 1 (1), Yacob (1), own goals (1)
Liverpool: Salah (40), Firmino (25), Mane (17), Coutinho (12), Can (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Alexander-Arnold (3), Sturridge (3), own goals (3), Henderson (1), Klavan (1), Lovren (1), Matip (1), Milner (1), Van Dijk (1), Wijnaldum (1)
* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea.
While the attentions of four teams turn to FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley, there is still much to play for in the league on what could prove another pivotal round of fixtures.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the main talking points heading into the weekend.Can West Ham Take Advantage of Arsenal’s Good Mood?
Arsene Wenger’s announcement that he will step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season adds new focus to the weekend’s fixtures and might give West Ham a chance to sneak a win against the Gunners.
While a vocal section of Arsenal fans have been calling for Wenger to go for some time there will be a general mood of celebration at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
But that might be just the time for the Hammers to strike a blow as they bid to ease their relegation fears.Will the Baggies Boing Into the Championship?
Darren Moore’s appointment as manager until the end of the season has had a reaction, including a shock 1-0 win at Man United last Sunday, but it was too little and far too late for a club that has looked destined for the drop for months.
Defeat at home to Liverpool in Saturday’s early kickoff will leave fans waiting on the results of other strugglers to see if they avoid their destiny for another week.A Tough Week For Those Fighting For Survival
Of the five teams still seriously in relegation trouble, only Crystal Palace face off against a side outside the top seven.
A trip to Watford, themselves still lingering on the fringes of the dog fight, will be seen by Roy Hodgson as a chance to pick up more valuable points after beating Brighton last time out.
With West Brom hosting Liverpool, Swansea travelling to newly-crowned champions Man City, West Ham at Arsenal and Stoke hosting Burnley, there could be slim pickings for those clubs in need of points to boost their respective survival bids.City Can Launch Title Celebration in Style
Pep Guardiola’s men have not played since but welcome relegation-threatened Swansea to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday ready to get the party started.
Another swashbuckling display by the best team in the Premier League by some distance would no doubt add the gloss to a great week on the blue half of Manchester.How Will Big Sam Rate Against Newcastle?
Everton boss Sam Allardyce jokingly awarded himself a rating of 11 out of 10 after Toffees fans were sent a survey asking how they felt the former England manager was managing at Goodison Park.
Although Allardyce steadied the ship earlier in the season after a dreadful start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman, his style and tactics have led to calls for him to leave this summer.
The 63-year-old has a chance to turn some of the detractors in his favour against former club Newcastle on Monday night, especially if he sets up a side to entertain—but he will be fearful that Rafa Benitez’s men have won their last four and will leapfrog Everton into ninth with a win.
Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne are vying for the PFA Player of the Year award, but who do rival supporters think deserves the accolade most?
The prize is dished out at a ceremony in London on Sunday evening, with the six nominees hoping to join a list of past winners that includes such legendary names as Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.
With all due respect to Harry Kane, David De Gea, David Silva and Leroy Sane, it is a straight fight between Salah and De Bruyne to see who takes home the award.
The pair have both been sensational this season, lighting up the Premier League with their creative magic week in, week out.
Salah has a remarkable 40 goals to his name, in what has been an unrivalled first year at Liverpool, while De Bruyne’s vast influence has been the key reason for Man City cruising to the league title.
We have asked fans of the other 19 Premier League clubs to select their winner, and also choose their Player of the Year for their side.
Here’s what they think…Arsenal
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. I just can’t not go for him, even though Salah has been incredible. When you watch City everything goes through him.
He has been the best player in the best team and therefore he’d get my vote.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Aaron Ramsey. I’m not a fan of him in a two-man midfield, but when released further forward he has a knack of being in the right place.
His energy is amazing, he never shies away and gives his all.
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah, but De Bruyne will probably win it, in my opinion. Sometimes there is too much focus on the top-six clubs—there is football outside of them.
I can’t really get excited about the rivalry between the top six and their players. As soon as the title is done and dusted you can guarantee that the Player of the Year will come from that winning team.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Nathan Ake. He has been magnificent for us at the back. It is hard to think of a Bournemouth side without him now.
He is always the player we want to see being the last defender if we are in a difficult situation, and he rarely lets us down. He may have cost £20 million from Chelsea, but he has been worth it.
Peter Bell (@CherryChimes)Brighton & Hove Albion
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. He has added more value to Liverpool’s end game and has allowed the fans to say “Philippe Who?” this season.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Pascal Gross. He has been involved in nearly half our goals by either scoring or assisting, and he works his nads into the ground with stereotypical German endeavour.
Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire)Burnley
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah, although it’s very close. He has been exciting but also understated at the same time.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Nick Pope. It’s hard to pick a Player of the Year for us, because Sean Dyche doesn’t set his team up full of ‘superstars’.
If I can to pick one, I’d say Pope. How he’s not got an England cap and that plane ticket to Russia sewn up yet is anyone’s guess.
An honorary mention goes to Ashley Barnes, who appears to have turned into Messi this season!
Natalie Bromley (@NoNayNever)Chelsea
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. He would comfortably be Player of the Year for me. The amount of goals he’s scored is outrageous for a player that isn’t a centre-forward.
The fact he’s done it in a team which doesn’t have the same quality as City makes his season more impressive than De Bruyne’s.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Marcos Alonso. It’s very difficult to pick a standout player for Chelsea for obvious reasons. Alonso has had another strong season, though, and has always put the effort in when others around him haven’t.
Richard Long (@CONTETHEKING)Crystal Palace
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. If you’d asked me halfway through the season I’d have said De Bruyne was nailed on, but Salah has done so much and improved game by game that I can’t ignore that.
He’s finding his best form at a time when the decision is being made.And your club’s Player of the Year?
James Tomkins. He’s kept fit all season for the first time for us and been great at the back whilst everyone around him has been struggling with form or injuries.
Wilfried Zaha is clearly our best player and has recently destroyed Brighton again which is fantastic—maybe he’s become so good we just expect it.
Rory Brelsford-Stewart (@RoryBS)Everton
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. Easily the most impressive player for the runaway leaders this season.
Salah runs him close—and in truth probably edges the City man on form in the second half of the season.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Jordan Pickford. Far from faultless, but a rare beacon of light amid the growing frustration. The former Sunderland man surely must keep goal for England in Russia
Patrick Boyland (@Paddy_Boyland)Huddersfield Town
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. De Bruyne has done excellently as well, but has played in a team full of superstars.
Salah is the first Liverpool player to score a minimum of 40 goals since Ian Rush I believe. Credit where credit is due, the Egyptian has had a phenomenal year, taking both fans and pundits aback with his talent.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Christopher Schindler. The likeable German centre-back has not looked out of place at Premier League level, and has had a vital role in everything that has been good in the clubs performances throughout 2017/18.
Four more positive contributions may lead to the club preserving its Premier League status.
Nathan Hosker (@htafcslo)Leicester City
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. Both the Egyptian and De Bruyne have been consistently fantastic throughout, but for me it’s Salah, purely because his performance has so far exceeded what was expected of him.
He has been an absolute revelation, and the effect he has on that Liverpool side is extraordinary.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Jamie Vardy. Despite lacking consistent service throughout the season, he has managed to score 20 goals once again.
He’s the league’s best finisher in terms of shot conversion (28.3 percent) and big chance conversion (68.4 percent), and has scored against each of this year’s top-six sides—a remarkable statistic and testament to his quality.
Jamie Thorpe (@thorpie54)Man City
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. Salah’s record is staggering but that’s what the Golden Boot is for. De Bruyne, more than any other player in the Premier League, determined the destination of the title.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Some ginger Belgian lad!
Ste Tudor (@SteTudor123)Man United
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. His brilliance has ultimately led to winning two trophies. There’s no point being brilliant if it leads to fuck all.
That could obviously change Champions League-wise, but picking it now means you can’t really justify picking a winner over a gallant loser.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Romelu Lukaku. He has done really well in his first season. Over 20-odd goals, improving all-round game and kept his head down when he was getting criticised. All that with shite service from a midfield that spends most of its time going sideways or backwards.
David de Gea has been brilliant but that’s just expected.
Ste Armstrong (@sarm0161)Newcastle United
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. Twenty assists at this level is ludicrous. Man City are excellent but look much worse without him in the side.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Jamal Lascelles Still only 23 but a colossus of a captain. With him in the side, United have collected 40 points in his 27 starts, while in the six games Lascelles missed we picked up one point. That’s how crucial he is.
I understand why he’s not in the England squad as he’s not a ball-playing defender, but he is destined for great things and is one of the best defenders in the league.
Alex Hurst (@tfNUFCfanzine)Southampton
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. He has had a bigger impact on Liverpool’s performances than De Bruyne has on City’s.
I have loved watching De Bruyne this season but Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho, David Silva etc. have also been incredible so I think that City would have won the league even if they didn’t have him.
Salah’s goalscoring record this season is phenomenal and he has had an incredible impact on Liverpool’s results and style of play.And your club’s Player of the Year?
James Ward-Prowse. He hasn’t played as much as he has deserved to, but when he has he’s been impressive. His technical and dead-ball abilities are well documented but he has added some snide to his game.
If we do go down, as seems likely, we should do everything we can to keep hold of him, make him captain and build the team around him.
Richard Brereton (@RichardBrer)Stoke City
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. Both he and De Bruyne have been incredible, and there’s very little between them, but Salah has shone ever so slightly brighter with his devastating ability to always score when required.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Xherdan Shaqiri. There are barely any contenders for Stoke, but the Swiss has been by far and away our best player. Without him we’d have been as bad as Derby County in 2007/08.
David Cowlishaw (@davidcowlishaw)Swansea City
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah just edges it for me. It looks like he will win the Golden Boot—no mean feat—especially when it’s his first season as a genuine regular in the Premier League.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Lukasz Fabianski. He has been consistently brilliant for us every game this season—we’re lucky to have him.
He has kept scores looking respectable and kept us in games many times.
Kevin Elphick (@Kevin_Elphick)Tottenham
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. His contribution to the resurgence of Liverpool in the Premier league and Champions League has been pivotal. Thirty goals in the league is incredible, and he is unplayable when on form.
De Bruyne is key to City, and like Salah had to leave the Premier league to return triumphantly, but his goalscoring has not been prolific and he was second-best to the Egyptian in the Champions League quarter-final ties.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Jan Vertonghen. Great skill and calmness under pressure, and playing the way he has without his natural defensive partner Toby Alderweireld.
Russ Williams (@Russw777)Watford
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Abdoulaye Doucoure. That could partly be down to the fact he’s stayed fit and everyone else has had time away!
But he shows the excitement of a young player developing and has been an anchor to all the great things we’ve done. Plus he’s scored a few thunder-blasters!
From The Rookery End (@watfordpodcast)West Brom
Salah or De Bruyne?
De Bruyne. No one expected Salah to shake up the Premier League like he has—his prowess in front of goal has been nothing short of astonishing—but my vote would have to go to De Bruyne.
The Belgian has been the creative heartbeat of one of the greatest sides to grace the Premier League. His range of passing has, at times, defied comprehension, and his desire to win back the ball has been infectious and has forced so many errors out of the opposition.
And the way he has kept his cool, in the face of some appalling tackles over the season, marks him out as a true role model to kids watching the game.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Ben Foster. He stands tall, head and shoulders above the rest. Fittingly, he was at his brilliant best to keep Man United at bay in our recent win.
The Baggies would already be down were it not for Foster.
Paul Suart (@PaulSuartWBA)West Ham
Salah or De Bruyne?
Salah. Nobody expected him to make the impact he has—let alone so quickly—and he has been absolutely superb.
He has brought goals, assists and an added dimension to the Liverpool side.And your club’s Player of the Year?
Marko Arnautovic. I would never have said that for the first two months of the season, but he has been superb and converted into a fantastic striker.
He has shown versatility, a great work rate and added plenty of goals that have proved crucial for the Hammers.
Danny Rust (@Danny_Rust10)The Final Vote
Mohamed Salah: 13Kevin De Bruyne: 6
Thanks to all 19 rival supporters for their invaluable contributions!
AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco has hinted at resting a host of key players this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s trip to take on Liverpool at Anfield.
The Reds play host for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, looking to establish a strong lead to take into the away decider at Stadio Olimpico.
With Roma kicking off away to SPAL at 2pm (BST) on the same day, however, the Serie A side could take a different approach, having already played out a 2-1 win over Genoa on Wednesday evening.
During his pre-match press conference, Di Francesco revealed that Aleksandar Kolarov would miss out due to injury, while Cengiz Under and Edin Dzeko could be rested.
“This game against SPAL is very important for lots of reasons. We must make sure we capitalise on the chances that come our way,” he said.
“Diego Perotti is OK and he’ll be in the squad. Aleksandar Kolarov won’t be coming with us this weekend, though—he has a minor muscle complaint.
“Edin Dzeko is really up for it right now but I’ll speak to him and decide whether or not to start him tomorrow. If not, Patrik Schick will lead the line.
“As for who will come in for Kolarov at left-back tomorrow, it will be a left-footed player. Jonathan Silva is more likely than Luca Pellegrini.
“Cengiz Under’s pace is a vital part of his game so we need to make sure he doesn’t suffer from fatigue when there are so many games. We won’t rest everyone.
“Lorenzo Pellegrini could well start—I’m undecided between him and another player.”
Di Francesco has a largely fit squad to draw upon provided no further injuries are sustained in Ferrara, with Kostas Manolas a second-half substitute against Genoa after concerns over his fitness.
The Greek centre-back can be expected to join Under and Dzeko among those left out this weekend, but the absence of Kolarov could be a boost for Liverpool, particularly given the threat of Mohamed Salah.
Roma find themselves in a difficult position as they struggle to balance league and European commitments, with rivals Lazio and Inter Milan also winning in midweek.
To ensure they avoid giving the Reds any further advantage on Tuesday, though, Corriere dello Sport claim that Di Francesco is taking an unorthodox approach to preparations.
They report that Roma won’t train in England on Monday evening, as is customary before away games in the Champions League, instead travelling after their session in Italy that morning.
This is said to be due to Di Francesco’s wish to “hide” his setup to ensure Klopp has no inside knowledge before kickoff.
However, a shorter time to prepare to England could prove to Roma’s detriment, and playing on an unfamiliar pitch, in a cauldron of hostility at Anfield, may well see them struggle.