The Hawthorns, West Bromwich – Days before Liverpool’s massive 1st leg Champions League semi-final clash with Roma, Jurgen Klopp had to set his side out to face West Bromwich Albion. It was a game that saw Mohamed Salah equal the Premier League’s 38 game scoring record, and gave the visitors an opportunity to re-establish a 10-point lead over Chelsea.
However, it definitely felt like more of an inconvenience than a competitive league game. Five changes were made from the side that put 3 goals past Bournemouth, as players were inevitably rested.
Danny Ings scored an emotional goal within 4 minutes, as his long-awaited strike put his side in front. It remained mostly uneventful until Mohamed Salah doubled the lead and put his name in the history books with less than 30 minutes to go.
The game would end on a completely different note though, as goals from Jake Livermore and Salomon Rondon levelled the score and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Here are the three key talking points after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
1 – Not the End of the World
With a Champions League semi-final on the horizon, most wouldn’t expect a draw in a league game to cause a meltdown among supporters. However, one needs to only look at much of the reaction on social media to see that this has somehow been the case.
Perhaps, if the match had ended as a dire 0-0 draw, then some of the rhetoric may have been different. It’s possible that the manner in which Jurgen Klopp’s men dropped 2 points after being 2 goals up, is what has led to most of the outrage.
And while some criticism is warranted, assessing this game with the bigger picture in mind is necessary. The match was little more than an obstacle for the team to navigate through in the midst of their Champions League run.
Klopp needed to rotate his squad, while still ensuring that the side he fielded had some sort of Premier League pedigree. Without a doubt, he would have played a full team of reserves if circumstances permitted.
In regards to the game itself, much of the recent solidity at the back was disrupted due to the fact that 3 of the regular back 4 were being rested. And on a more positive note, Danny Ings was able to score his first league goal since 2015, hopefully putting his injury nightmares behind him.
2 – One Foot In the Top Four
Amongst many of the contextual pieces that make Saturday’s result less of a big deal is the fact that the remaining league games for Liverpool are almost meaningless…almost. Manchester City are already the champions, and Champions League football is almost guaranteed at Anfield yet again for next season.
However, Chelsea keep winning games for one reason or another, and ironically Liverpool’s Champions League ventures are making them more catchable. If Antonio Conte’s men win their game in hand then the gap is closed to 5 points between them.
That gap still sounds pretty big, but keep in mind that the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge in the penultimate game of the campaign. All it would take would be a Chelsea win in that clash, and a Liverpool draw in one of their other two games for the two sides to be tied on points.
However, given the fact that Liverpool’s goal difference is vastly superior to Chelsea’s means that 4 points should be enough for The Reds to secure their place. Meaning a loss to Chelsea can be afforded if they collect 4 points from their home games with Stoke and Brighton.
3 – All Eyes on Tuesday
Who would have thought that days like these would have returned so soon? Tuesday night will see Liverpool play host to AS Roma in the club’s first Champions League semi-final clash since 2008.
Much of the team’s journey this season culminates in the outcome of this Champions League run. However, the mood around the club is more celebratory than anything right now, with most fans having initially been content with the team just making the final eight.
Although silverware is indeed on the line, Liverpool have the unique opportunity to play fearlessly in a European semi-final. No supporters will protest if they get knocked out, and the players could receive massive benefits as a result.
Anfield will be the first venue for this two-legged tie, and a raucous Anfield that can keep itself from being frustrated regardless of how the game is panning out could make all the difference. Exciting times are ahead for the men in red, and the countdown for this next chapter has begun.