Axe Mignolet, or Reds can forget about top four
Reds can forget about top four with an error-prone goalkeeper like the Belgian
(Jordan Henderson 21, Divock Origi 90+6)
WEST BROM 2
(Craig Dawson 30, Jonas Olsson 73)
Juergen Klopp was at his ebullient best; punching the air, thumping his chest and swinging his arms in a windmill-like fashion as though his life depended on it.
As the Liverpool manager abandoned his inhibitions and led his players in a mass salute to the Anfield crowd yesterday morning (Singapore time), impartial observers could have been forgiven for mistaking his delight for something more than a draw with West Brom.
Brendan Rodgers would have suffered widespread derision and scathing criticism for that.
In truth, little else has changed since the Northern Irishman was forced to make way for Klopp, just two months ago.
Forget a challenge for the English Premier League title - even Champions League qualification remains a stretch for Liverpool this season based on current form.
Even with a more favourable run of fixtures than their closest competitors for a top-four place, their renewed belief has waned.
Simon Mignolet alone serves as a cause for that pessimism.
For all Rodgers' failings, Klopp's predecessor took the bold step of granting the Belgian a winter recess following one under-par performance too many.
Only injury to understudy Brad Jones prevented his "indefinite" wilderness spell extending beyond three games.
Twelve months on, an upgraded back-up in Adam Bogdan sees Liverpool far better equipped to address Mignolet's ongoing slump.
Klopp, however, remains unrelenting in his belief that the 27-year-old is still his first-choice goalkeeper.
An improved contract remains on the horizon for Mignolet at Anfield, yet only a fortuitous stoppage-time equaliser by compatriot Divock Origi spared another inquisition into his status as Liverpool's No. 1.
Supporting evidence to the contrary is as damning as it is compelling. No player has made more errors leading to goals in the previous three seasons than Mignolet, with eight.
That dubious accolade was secured when a basic inability to command his area allowed West Brom to snatch a first-half equaliser.
Grasping at thin air during a set- piece, not for the first time, he was in no man's land when Craig Dawson rifled home from close range.
It has become a recurring theme during Klopp's Anfield reign as much as it was in the death throes of Rodgers' tenure.
More confusion and chaos followed. Keeping a wayward West Brom shot in play was unorthodox in itself.
The impromptu walkabout which followed, one of several beyond the relative safety of his penalty area, gave the Anfield faithful a renewed level of anxiety last endured from David James in the mid 1990s.
The one-time England international's blunders cost Liverpool dear in their ultimately futile attempts to reclaim the EPL title - it is only a matter of time before Mignolet finds himself festooned with his predecessor's infamous nickname of "Calamity".
His knock-on effect to Liverpool's defence has been clear to see; they lack both the steel and organisation to combat even the most simplistic of opposition game plans.
Had Gardner timed his run better as a West Brom ball was floated in behind the Reds' backline, Klopp's side would have been severely punished just moments before Jordan Henderson went on to open the scoring.
When Jonas Olsson appeared to have gifted the visitors the lead on the stroke of half-time, no Liverpool players appealed for the subsequent offside call.
They were resigned to defeat on the matter long before the intervention of officialdom.
It was a pattern which repeated itself as Olsson scored after the break, predictably from another set-piece.
Even Mamadou Sakho's anticipated return to action next week will struggle to stabilise the Reds' recent defensive unrest.
I said to Simon at half-time, if somebody says it was your fault, it is not true, it is my fault — because i want a ’keeper who helps, a ’keeper who comes out and tries everything. There’s nothing negative to say about Simon. Sometimes you try something and make a fault — it’s not the biggest problem, you go on.”
— Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp
SIMON by the ERRORS
No player has made more errors that have led directly to a goal in the last three EPL seasons than Simon Mignolet.
Dec 13: Liverpool 2 West Brom 2
Comes out for a corner, but misses the ball, allowing Craig Dawson to score West Brom’s opener.
Nov 26: Liverpool 2 Bordeaux 1
Holds on to the ball for 22 seconds, needlessly conceding a free-kick from which Bordeaux scores.
Sept 20: Liverpool 1 Norwich 1
Comes out for a corner, but punches the ball only as far as the penalty spot, where Russell Martin then hooks home for Norwich’s equaliser.
Nov 27, 2014: Ludogorets 2 Liverpool 2
Spills a long-range effort by Marcelinho and Dani Abalo converts the loose ball. The Reds score two goals, but concede another later on, jeopardising their chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
Jan 18, 2014: Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 2
Comes out for a cross which Glen Johnson would have dealt with. Mignolet’s slight touch diverts the ball towards Christian Benteke, who nods home for a 2-0 Villa lead.
Dec 29, 2013: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1
Chelsea’s Oscar cuts back from the byeline, for Samuel Eto’o to shoot at goal. Mignolet gets down to palm the ball but watches in horror as it spins into the bottom corner for Chelsea’s winner.
Dec 26, 2013: Man City 2 Liverpool 1
Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo, cleanly through, could shoot only tamely at goal, but MIgnolet, palms the ball over the line for City’s winner.
Nov 23, 2013: Everton 3 Liverpool 3
Mignolet’s failure to clear an Everton free-kick allows them to regroup, from which Kevin Mirallas crosses for Romelu Lukaku to shoot from eight metres. Mignolet gets a hand to it but is unable to keep out what becomes Everton’s goal No. 2. — Wire Services.
'It was not a friendly game'
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp insists he does not have a problem with West Brom's tactics or their manager Tony Pulis despite a fractious 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Klopp (above) did not shake hands with the Baggies boss after the final whistle and was involved with a confrontation with a member of the visitors' backroom staff as he went onto the pitch to celebrate with his players.
Craig Gardner's reckless knee-high challenge on Dejan Lovren, which went unpunished even though the defender departed on a stretcher and left the ground on crutches, was the worst of the game's tackles, but Klopp said he did not have a personal issue with Pulis.
"I didn't see him after the game. I can say nothing," he said. "We had some words in the game; sometimes it takes more than a few seconds to cool down.
"Usually I shake hands, I did not today because it was not a friendly game."
Jordan Henderson had given the Reds an early lead but Craig Dawson and Jonas Olsson - who also had a goal ruled out for offside - scored from corners to turn things around and only substitute Divock Origi's deflected strike in the sixth of eight minutes of injury time rescued a point for the hosts.
Klopp celebrated the late leveller like it was a winner, pumping his fists towards the Main Stand and taking his team to salute the Kop at the end.
"Sometimes, a point deserved in the right way is more important," he added. "Maybe the crowd were disappointed, but they didn't let us feel that.
"We all wanted this one point and it felt like three, in this moment it was an explosion."
Pulis played down the any perceived animosity with Klopp, insisting he was more annoyed about not winning.
"He has got to do what he has got to do, I am more disappointed about the way they came back to make it 2-2," he said. "He is animated. I have been animated all my life on the bench. I have no problems with that. We have come here, tried to be resilient. I don't think there was a booking during the game. The big disappointment was they got that goal."
Pulis also brushed aside Gardner's tackle on Lovren.
"The two worst challenges in the game are (James) Milner's challenge on Gardner and Skrtel's challenge on Salomon (Rondon)," he added. - PA Sport.