Klopp can't catch a break

Manager restores 'Fab Four' to line-up but Liverpool draw a blank after disallowed goal

LONDON • After criticism for not starting with Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reunited all his big guns at Anfield against West Brom only to find his side still misfiring.

"This time you can't blame me for it, or maybe you will," he said after the 0-0 draw in the Premier League on Wednesday.

What was unmistakable during the clash was that there was still frustration for the Reds, on a night when the Baggies set an unwanted club record of 16 games without a win while climbing out of the relegation zone.

Even with their attacking 'Fab Four' of Coutinho, Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Liverpool could not manage a shot on target in the first half.

For the second time in four days, they were held at home by a well-drilled unit and Klopp could only blame the referee after the game.

His team had been on the wrong end of a crucial call, with Dominic Solanke having a goal disallowed in the 82nd minute for handball.

"I've seen a few replays, there's an arm, but I'm not sure he touches the ball. I'm not sure," Klopp said.

"I'm sure it's not on purpose. It must be a really good assistant that made the decision. That's another moment where we had no luck."

West Brom manager Alan Pardew felt that referee Paul Tierney made the right call.

"Solanke has swung an arm, it's hit him and gone in. It is a brave call... the right decision but still a brave decision. Maybe it was the slice of luck we deserved," he said.

"This is a really important point - a building block for us which we will gain confidence from. Winning games in this league is very tough and every point is gold dust."

Klopp again deployed the 4-2-2-2 formation that dismantled Spartak Moscow a week earlier although, with nine Baggies entrenched in their own half, it frequently morphed into a four-man attack with Mane and Coutinho pressing high up the pitch.

But the visitors' defence was marshalled superbly by Jonny Evans, and Klopp felt he could have no complaints about a result that left Liverpool 18 points adrift of pacesetters Manchester City.

"We can do better but on a night like this when you are not at your best, you need a bit of luck," he said.

Liverpool are behind fourth-placed Tottenham but only on goal difference.

Klopp's men next face Bournemouth away on Sunday.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp can't catch a break'. Print Edition | Subscribe