A result no one could have predicted. An evening nobody could have foreseen, not even the most pessimistic Merseysider, or the most optimistic Albion fan. Liverpool resorted back to their habits of old, missing chance after chance for the best part of what were a tense 90 minutes inside Anfield. Not even a soft penalty awarded to the reds could save their day, as ‘Mr. Reliable’ Steven Gerrard side-footed his lacklustre spot-kick into the path of West Brom’s star man Ben Foster, who made an immeasurable number of fine saves to help the Baggies to their first win of 2013 in the Premier League. Euphoria for the travelling Albion fans, heartbreak for the Anfield faithful.
For me, the day started and ended at an ungodly-like hour. Rising bright and early at 6:15 on Monday morning, I was buzzing in anticipation. This was to be my first trip to Anfield, a day which I would have hoped would live long in my memory, for all the right reasons. After four hours on the ferry to Holyhead, and a further 3 hours in the car, I arrived at Liverpool around 4 in the afternoon. Excitement was now proving difficult to mask, and after wandering around Liverpool One for a short while, we drove to Anfield Road, where we would take our seats. Eagerly anticipating the team news, I found my heart sink a little when seeing that our main man at the moment, Daniel Sturridge, had failed to overcome a thigh injury picked up last week against the Citizens, and he paid the price for playing on with a niggling injury against his former club.
The West Brom fans were sat to the right of us, and not even they could have dreamt of such an emphatic result against England’s most decorated club.
After singing Liverpool’s anthem in unison, the game got underway. Liverpool looked lively from the off, although there was something in the air that night at Anfield. An air of uncertainty, unease. The travelling fans immediately recognised the cumbersome atmosphere in Merseyside, and began to chant ‘Where’s your famous atmosphere’ much to the embarrassment of the home crowd, who could barely muster up a response.
But there was one man, sat three rows in front of me who somehow managed to make the spectacle worthwhile, as he chanted countless unpleasantries at the Baggies fans’, much to our amusement. ‘Fuck off Albion’, ‘You’re just a shit team from Birmingham’ and ‘He’s just a Chelsea fucking reject’ (aimed at Lukaku) were amongst his endless array of chants. I was in stitches for half of the game, cracking up at whatever he came out with next.
This man, although seemingly intoxicated, sang proudly until the 90th minute. Unfortunately, he was alone, as most of the people seated around him were only tourists, die-hards were in the Kop. But not even they could lift the spirits inside the walls of Anfield, bar the odd ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ chant every 20 minutes.
For large parts of the game there was an eerie silence echoing around Anfield, the Liverpool fans guilty of this. No matter how much the man sat in front of me sang songs of disapproval while pointing his middle finger at Albion fans, the mood still wouldn’t change.
The fact that I’ve managed to write this much material on a fan merely chanting is almost depressing, as that was probably the highlight of the match for me. He was more entertaining and enticing than Liverpool were in their build-up play.
Certain players were singled out after last night’s poor showing, Jonjo Shelvey being the main culprit of these condemning comments made about his, and his side’s performance. ‘Keyboard warriors’ as Jonjo calls them, took to Twitter angrily minutes after the final whistle, and sent abusive tweets to all the players who donned the red jersey that night, and Jonjo did not take too kindly to this, as he expressed his feeling in a rather immature tweet shortly after the match.
Daniel Agger also took to the social networking to express his thoughts on the game the morning after, and in doing so, offered a much more plausible response to criticisms he received from fans.
Maybe it was just one of those days for Liverpool. No matter how hard they tried, it was just simply not going to happen for them. But to be a top 4 side, these are the games that the reds will need to capitalise on. They have still not managed to defeat a team currently residing in the top 10 of the league, and sitting in 9th place is surely something that will have Brendan Rodgers questioning his and his players methods. An inspired performance by Ben Foster all but claimed the three points for the away side, and West Bromwich Albion have now moved ahead of Liverpool into eighth position. It was the first time in nearly 50 years that the Baggies managed to do the double over Liverpool in the league campaign. What makes the defeat even more painful is that West Brom’s manager is Steve Clarke, Liverpool’s assistant manager of last season.
Amongst all the madness, there is still plenty to look forward to for Liverpool fans. Two appetising Europa League clashes with Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia in the next 10 days could help ease the pain, as Liverpool very regularly manage to pull out all the stops against the big sides. All that has been missing from Brendan Rodgers’ side in the big games this season is the ability to close out a game, defending their goal until the 90th minute and beyond.
Inconsistency has become Liverpool’s middle name, and until they manage to rid their squad of the ‘at least we tried’ attitude, there will not be a notable progression in the coming months. A project is underway at Liverpool at the moment, a project which will see us hopefully competing in Europe again in years to come, although fans might have to wait a little bit longer until they see any signs of improvement. Maybe we have to accept that Liverpool just aren’t a top 4 side anymore, and that results such as these against the seemingly worse teams aren’t always upsets.
Not even the trickery or perpetual running from Luis Suarez could help Liverpool avoid defeat, and it was evident that they missed Daniel Sturridge. Badly. Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley aptly marshalled the Uruguayan for most of the fixture, and it was clear to see that Suarez missed his new partner in crime.
All in all, I wouldn’t dare call my trip to Anfield a waste of money and time, but rather just a disappointing result. Although it was an interesting match, one that not many people could talk about so much in-depth. Being at the stadium, you really do hear and see things you wouldn’t at home. Travelling to Anfield is a unique, sometimes rewarding experience. An experience that I certainly won’t find easy to forget.
Patience is a virtue, and this saying largely adheres to Liverpool’s current state and philosophy as things stand.