Liverpool lost a fourth-round FA Cup tie for the third year in a row, with serious concerns for their defending emerging once more. Their only real chance of a trophy has now gone.
Too many to count. More frailty at set pieces, and Liverpool were caught congratulating themselves after an early goal should’ve given them a platform for victory. VAR kept the defeat from being worse.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Jurgen Klopp has insisted publicly that no more new players will arrive in the next few days, and this game proved that buying an expensive centre-half won’t come close to curing the defensive ills that have plagued his Anfield reign.
Player ratings: (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Simon Mignolet, 4 — Saved by VAR after conceding a headed “goal” from 3 yards out, he did nothing to suggest he should replace Loris Karius. Could do little about the three goals that eventually counted but exudes ineptitude nowadays.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 3 — There’ll come a time when youth cannot camouflage such performances. Chosen to add attacking bite against an expected Albion rearguard action, not only were his defensive lapses obvious, but his crossing when the Reds chased the game were also abject. Hard to be critical when experienced players were also poor, but that doesn’t alter the facts.
DF Joel Matip, 4 — Caught cold far too often when Albion came forward in the first half. Some composure on the ball during the second half was good, but the damage was already done by then, and he has to take his fair share of the blame for it.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 4 — As much of a mess as Liverpool’s defence already was, it’ll take more than the Dutchman to put things right, and he didn’t exactly help tonight. Late header almost brought a dramatic albeit undeserved draw, but it’s what happened at the other end that will concern most fans.
DF Alberto Moreno, 4 — If this was Klopp’s attempt to ease one of his favourites back into the team, it backfired. For the visitors’ third goal, he was still outside the area when the ball was bundled into the net. The second half was more to his liking, playing virtually as a left-winger, but even then he didn’t contribute much.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 5 — Poor performance that was abruptly halted just after the hour mark. Not the worst central midfielder on the day but that reflects badly on others rather than well on him. His corners found Ben Foster’s gloves every single time.
MF Emre Can, 2 — How he survived a whole hour is a mystery. Everything bad about the German was on display; half-hearted, ill-disciplined, weak in the challenge especially just after Liverpool opened the scoring. Stupid challenges that conceded free kicks and wasted time. As far from a captain’s performance as you’ll ever see.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 4 — Nondescript again. Usually a bundle of energy at home, he was another player who lost all confidence once West Brom went in front. Presumably stayed on because only three substitutes are allowed.
FW Sadio Mane, 5 — Reverting back to the timid player of a month ago, he was also replaced as Klopp threw caution to the wind on 64 minutes. Being taken off when your team needs a goal isn’t a good sign for an attacking player.
FW Mohamed Salah, 5 — His touch having temporarily deserted him, he probably should have scored Liverpool’s opener but was fortunate another player was backing him up. Scored the second to keep his statistics very healthy at least, but this was not a good night for the Egyptian.
FW Roberto Firmino, 6 — Began the game well with a cool chip into an empty net. He looked full of movement and ideas before he missed the penalty that might have given Liverpool impetus on the night. Went into his shell after that but still provided most of the home team’s threat, which isn’t saying much.
MF James Milner, 6 — Brought a little calm to proceedings and kept the Reds probing for a late rescue. Lacked the skill and invention to do so but still brought a good save out of Foster.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Got the ball moving at a brisker pace, but, like Milner, did not have the creativity that Liverpool were crying out for. At least gave his all unlike Can, but it was nowhere near enough.
FW Danny Ings, 6 — At least gave Albion something to think about, halted by one or two desperate challenges. Might have won another penalty but Liverpool had used all nine lives by then.