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Thursday, December 14, 2017

'Fab Four' fail to help Liverpool to victory against stubborn West Brom

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reunited the 'Fab Four' but his prolific attacking quartet were all distinctly off-key as West Brom held out for a goalless draw at Anfield.
Prior to this game the Reds averaged a goal every 23 minutes when Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho were on the pitch but on this occasion they could not find the net in almost four times as long.
For the second time in four days Klopp was left raging at the officials after substitute Dominic Solanke's late goal was ruled out for handball by an assistant referee having initially been given by referee Paul Tierney.
The Reds boss had been unhappy about the award of Everton's penalty in Sunday's Merseyside derby and he was equally unimpressed by this decision.
Having made half-a-dozen changes from the weekend, making it 65 alterations to his starting line-up so far this season, the appearance of Salah, Mane, Firmino and Coutinho was supposed to be the answer to unlocking the door against disciplined visitors.
However, their combined talents were negated by a massed defence which left little space to thread a pass through or run into.
This was also not the fixture for every one of the quartet to be significantly off their game, with uncharacteristic poor first touches and a lack of sharpness in front of goal ensuring Liverpool missed the chance to regain their top-four spot.
Their best first-half chances came from the right-hand side: Salah crossed to the far post where Fimino's left-footed shot flew across the face of goal and just wide of the upright and Trent Alexander-Arnold, on a charging counter-attack run, narrowly missed picking out Salah just beyond the penalty spot.
Andrew Robertson had a volley blocked by Jake Livermore, Firmino's shot deflected off Ahmed Hegazi and fell to Salah but his effort was cleared by Kieran Gibbs.
Surprisingly the visitors came closest to scoring in the first half with Hal Robson-Kanu's 30th-minute curler dropping over Loris Karius and onto the top of the crossbar.
Five minutes into the second half Karius was forced to tip over Gregorz Krychowiak's inswinging free-kick and also Claudio Yacob's header from the resulting corner.
Pressure at the other end saw Mane, seemingly lacking in confidence, skew wide from Firmino's cut-back and Salah fail to get enough on his header from Alexander-Arnold's deflected cross.
Even when they were presented with a chance when Ben Foster flapped at a cross and then fumbled the loose ball, Georginio Wijnaldum could not force home from close range.
Solanke thought he had broken the deadlock with seven minutes to go but his goal was ruled out - having initially been given by referee Tierney - after a linesman spotted the ball had rebounded off his chest and onto his arm from fellow substitute Joe Gomez's cross.
Klopp raged at the decision and his mood was not helped when the excellent Hegazi, who typified the Baggies' resilience, cleared Solanke's shot off the line from their next attack.
For new Baggies boss Alan Pardew it was a second draw in three matches but nevertheless set a new club record of 16 matches without a win in all competitions, the longest in their 139-year hist.