It was a match most were expecting Liverpool to dominate from start to finish, but after a very dry first-half, Albion put up a strong fight, catching the Mighty Reds off-guard and stunning them with a 1-1 scoreline.
The first 45 minutes can be summed up by one stat, passes completed: Jordan Henderson – 85, West Brom – 35.
With hindsight, we can now see that this was all a part of Big Sam’s plan: to put as many men behind the ball as possible in order to keep out Liverpool when they’re at their most alert.Embed from Getty Images
Unfortunately, Sadio Mane scored the opening goal in the 12th minute, after he chested down a chipped ball from Matip and struck on the half-volley past Johnstone at close range.
Liverpool kept on firing shots at goal, with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah and Fabinho all coming close to putting the Reds two ahead.
But Albion made it to half-time with just the one goal conceded, and so phase two of Big Sam’s Plan could commence: the counter-attack.Embed from Getty Images
The first promising sign was when the ball got launched up the field and bounced past Rhys Williams towards the feet of Karlan Grant, who burst towards goal and shot — but it was right at Alisson.
It was a golden opportunity for Grant, similar to the point-blank effort he had against Manchester City, but, once again, he failed to capitalise on the lucky break.
Sam Allardyce then begun to freshen things up by bringing on Matheus Pereira, back from his three-game suspension, for Callum Robinson, and Charlie Austin on for Karlan Grant.
The substitutions looked as if they were intended to shore up the defence even more, but, in fact, what we saw was a sudden increase in attacking intent, driven primarily through Pereira’s eye for an assist.
And he got his assist when he swung in a corner ball for Semi Ajayi, who rose and nodded the ball past Alisson, watched it bounce off the inside of the post and then trickle across the line.Embed from Getty Images
Nobody could quite believe it had gone in — not even Ajayi — but the Baggies were level!
Klopp’s men had a chance to get back in front through Firmino’s header from close range, but Sam Johnstone got his fingertips to it and tipped the ball round the post — another outstanding display from him.
The final substitution of the match for the Baggies was made in the dying embers of the match, partly to kill time and partly to instil some extra stability at the back, as Branislav Ivanovic came on for Conor Gallagher.
As the final whistle blew, there would have undoubtedly been heavy sighs of relief from Albion fans watching at home, as the lads kept hold of a very important point against the league leaders.
Match Ratings: Johnstone (8); Furlong (6), Ajayi (7), O’Shea (6), Gibbs (6); Robinson (6), Phillips (6), Sawyers (7), Gallagher (7), Diangana (6); Grant (6). Subs: Pereira (7), Austin (6), Ivanovic (6)
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea, Gibbs; Robinson (Pereira 73’), Phillips, Sawyers, Gallagher (Ivanovic 90’), Diangana; Grant (Austin 78’)
Subs (not used): Button, Peltier, Kipre, Grosicki, Harper, Krovinovic
Booked: O’Shea (56)
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip (Williams 60’), Fabinho, Robertson; Jones (Oxlade-Chamberlain 83’), Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino (Origi 90’), Mane
Subs (not used): Kelleher, Williams, Phillips, Shaqiri, Milner, Minamino
Referee: Kevin Friend