With the Europa League final next Wednesday at the forefront of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s mind, the German named a side completely changed from the one that drew with Chelsea midweek, but with irony still very much alive, the Reds managed to leave the West Midlands with the exact same result.
Salomon Rondon may have opened the scoring, but the goal was all Jonathan Leko; the 17-year old was far and away the best player on the pitch during the opening exchanges and the West Bromwich Albion youngster earned himself a deserved assist, latching on to a wayward pass before slipping past both Joe Allen and Cameron Brannagan en-route to slipping the ball through for the Venezuelan striker to finish coolly past stand-in Liverpool ‘keeper Adam Bogdan.
Their lead wouldn’t last long though as the visitors showed some youthful exuberance of their own through Jordon Ibe. The winger has been inconsistent at best this season, but the 20-year old gave us a glimpse of just what he can do; picking up the ball by the halfway line, the Reds winger left more than one player in his wake with a jinking run to the edge of the box. Having backed off and allowed him room to run, by the time Jonas Olsson decided to intervene, it was far too late for the Sweedish defender as a low shot from Ibe beat Baggies shot-stopper Ben Foster to restore parity and claim his first Premier League goal.
It’d be the last one of the match though as both sides looked short on both quality and drive. To be fair, the hosts should have bagged all three-points with Rondon in particular proving quite wasteful in front of the Reds net — none more telling than a flicked header early in the second half which came back off the post that the striker could have easily bundled home had he not already started his goal celebration, only to realize too late that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
End of the season, no chance of relegation stuff from Tony Pulis’s side and a performance indicative of a vising team with more important things on their mind. Late in the day run outs for the likes of Danny Ings, who made his first appearance since October after recovering from a serious knee injury, and club captain Jordan Henderson, who has been out of action after damaging ankle ligaments in the first leg draw with Borussia Dortmund at the start of April, may hint at who Klopp is looking to name on the bench for the Europa League final, but neither looked sharp enough to challenge for a starting spot in Basel.
And, if we don’t come home from Switzerland with a trophy, we won’t be back in Europe for awhile. Had we left the Hawthorns with all three-points we would have been in the mixer for a Europa League spot after West Ham United lost to Stoke City today, but the draw guarantees us an eighth place finish — something we’ll strive to vastly improve on during the coming campaign. Besides that, there’s not much more to talk about, is there? With our most important match yet under Klopp just over the horizon, there’s no need for your typical end of the season summing up nonsense.
It’s May and we’ve still got European football to play; despite being a massive wool, there’s only one way to sum that up — boss tha.