Liverpool and West Brom drew 0-0 in a dull game in the Midlands on Saturday afternoon. The result leaves Liverpool six points behind Manchester City in the race for the top four.
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Ahead of the game Liverpool fans couldn’t be blamed for feeling a tinge of disappointment about the way their season was ending. Only Arsenal have taken more league points than Liverpool since Christmas day, but last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final defeat meant there would be no fairy-tale send off for Steven Gerrard and that Brendan Rodgers would become the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s to fail to win a trophy in his first three seasons in charge.
They made three changes from the side that lost to Aston Villa last weekend, as Jordan Ibe, Glen Johnson, and Mario Balotelli replaced Joe Allen, Alberto Moreno, and Lazar Markovic respectively.
West Brom named an unchanged side from the one that beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in their previous outing – meaning Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino kept their place in attack and Stéphane Sessègnon had to settle for a place amongst the subs.
The opening twenty minutes saw little goal mouth action, though Liverpool dominated. Ibe threatened but couldn’t find an end product, while the two keepers barely touched the ball. After 25 minutes Liverpool had amassed a mammoth 79 percent of the possession.
Raheem Sterling drew the ire of the WBA fans when he deliberately hand-balled Gerrard’s raking cross-field ball, and Coutinho almost produced a moment of magic when he tried to lob Boaz Myhill from the half-way line, but ultimately both sides went in at half time with the score tied at 0-0. There had only been three shots on target – all by Liverpool.
The second half began much the same way as the first, with Liverpool enjoying all the possession but unable to find a way through WBA’s resolute defence. Raheem Sterling looked dangerous down the left and Coutinho was lively, but they were repeatedly thwarted.
Henderson had a great chance to put Liverpool ahead in the 55th minute after Myhill palmed Coutinho’s shot into his path, but he couldn’t steer the ball through a packed six yard box.
The game slowly improved and Liverpool kept getting closer. In the 62nd minute Jordan Ibe and Philippe Coutinho interlinked beautifully on the left flank and the young winger burst into the box, smashing the ball against the cross bar from a tight angle.
Moments later West Brom had their best chance of the half, Skrtel fluffed a clearance and James Morrison nodded the ball goal-bound, only to see Dejan Lovren hack the ball off the line.
Liverpool threw on Adam Lallana and Fabio Borini in an attempt to fashion a winner, and although the ex-Southampton midfielder went close with eight minutes remaining, neither could break the deadlock.
The result puts Liverpool fifth in the table and back ahead of Spurs and Southampton who drew 2-2 earlier in the day. The hosts stay 13th.
The visitors play again on Tuesday night as they travel to Hull City for their game in hand, then they host QPR next weekend. West Brom now face two consecutive away games, as they go to Old Trafford next Saturday and then Newcastle the following week.