As it stands, Liverpool are still top of the Premier League table. They will be very frustrated however that they aren't 5 points clear of rivals Everton, instead of the 3 that currently separates them after a tough game against strugglers West Brom ended 1-1 on Sunday night. They shouldn't be surprised though, as Baggies manager Sam Allardyce is now unbeaten in his last 4 trips to Anfield with 3 draws and 1 win, appearing to have the knack of knowing how to grind out a result at a stadium where Liverpool are now amazingly 3 calendar years unbeaten in the league. The last opposing manager to guide his side to victory there? Mr. Allardyce, who won there with Crystal Palace in 2017.
The opening of the game was all Liverpool, and it didnt take long for them to open the scoring in what we all assumed would be the first of many this evening. Centre back Joel Matip put a ball into the West Brom penalty area, Baggies central defender Ajayi was guilty of switching off for a split second which allowed Mane that extra bit of space he needed. He expertly controlled the ball with his chest before producing an unstoppable shot into the bottom left hand corner to put the hosts 1-0 up. I would wager many an online gambler was then sticking money on 3/4/5-0. I know I did.
But the floodgates never opened. Infact it was the visitors who had more shots on target overall, winning that stat 3-2. Another 70 minutes of play came and went, with Liverpool not being their usual, deadly selves going forward, West Brom were doing what Big Sam teams do best, frustrating their opponents and hanging in the game hoping to strike on the counter attack or get a break from a set play. And that chance came.
With just 8 minutes left, Baggies defender Semi Ajayi headed the leveler at the Anfield road end to send the West Brom bench into raptures. It was a fine header and good cross into him from winger Matheus Pereira, and was just reward for their steely resolve at the back.
Things are looking positive since Allardyce's arrival at The Hawthorns, hopefully he gets the right backing from the board to bring in some of his own players this coming window. Business is always hard to do at this stage of the season, but In my opinion they will need to strengthen if they are going to stay in the division.
Liverpool will view this as a minor setback. Klopp's side will soon bounce back and are still the resounding favourite's to lift the Premier League title for a second successive season. If they can sign a CB in January, that will probably be enough to get them over the line.
LIVERPOOL 1 WEST BROM 1
Leeds United picked up a massive 3 points over fellow bottom half strugglers Burnley, with Clarets boss Sean Dyche leaving the field fuming after his sides unfortunate 1-0 defeat at Elland Road.
The game started fast with Patrick Bamford being brought down in the penalty area by keeper Nick Pope in the Burnley goal. No more than 5 minutes were on the clock when Bamford dusted himself down to dispatch the resulting spot kick to give Leeds an early lead.
Burnley were very unfortunate not to be level 13 minutes later though. Ashley Barnes appeared to capitalise on Illan Meslier's mistake in the Leeds goal, turning inside the area to fire a loose ball into an empty net after the keeper had let the ball escape his grasp. The 20-year-old Leeds stopper, who on his day is arguably the best shot stopper in the league, was awarded a free-kick by referee Rob Jones despite spilling the ball after a fair aerial battle with Burnley defender Ben Mee. It was a poor decision by the ref and one that annoys fans up and down the land every single week. Football is a contact sport, keepers are give far too much protection these days.
Leeds continued to press, Jack Harrison had the goal at his mercy but he could only send his shot into the legs of Bamford who got in the way of a certain second goal for his side.
Burnley rallied after HT, and deserved something from the game. No fewer than 10 second half attempts saw them come close a number of times. But only 4 of those efforts were on target, with Barnes forcing two good saves from the Leeds keeper. Time ran out on Dyche's battling side in the end, they will bemoan a lack of quality in the final 3rd, a trait is appearing too often this season. They aren't getting results and could do with a hand in attacking areas, it will be interesting to see who Dyche has lined up to come in and help his side. Someone with pace would be ideal, in hindsight someone like Brentford's Ivan Toney would have been perfect for a side like this.
Leeds are playing well but their results are inconsistent. They also have a questionable defence in comparison to their reliable attacking force. If they can steady up the backline, it will be a comfortable mid table finish this season for the Yorkshire side.
LEEDS 1 BURNLEY 0
West Ham twice fought back to earn a draw at home to Premier League strugglers Brighton at The Olympic stadium on Sunday, keeping the Hammers at a respectable 10th position in the League table.
Brighton dominated the first half but had to wait till the stroke of half time to be rewarded. West Ham were piss poor if the truth be told, they looked terrible and just could not get into the game. They desperately needed the whistle so they could re group, but sadly for them they ran out of luck in the 44th minute. Dan Burn crossed into the West Ham box from the left, the ball fell kindly for Maupay to turn and stab home for 1-0. It was no more than the visitors deserved.
West Ham though were a side transformed after the break, and they were rewarded for their upturn in performance 15 mins into second half. It was 20 year old academy star Ben Johnson who equalised for the Hammers, finishing calmly into the top corner with a right footed effort from about 13 yards out. It was a great moment for the youngster as he scored his first professional goal for the club. If his family tree is anything to go by, West Ham have a good player on their books. Johnson is the cousin of former Spurs captain Ledley King, and the nephew of former Man Utd and England defender Paul Parker. It would appear defending runs in the family as Johnson is a player who operates mainly at full back.
10 minutes later the pendulum swung back in the favour of Brighton. A short corner was crossed into the near post, the ball bounced off a defender to Albion skipper Lewis Dunk who was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net from 5 yards.
It looked like all was lost for the Hammers conceding with 20 minutes left to play, Brighton were after their first win in six games. But then Tomas Soucek, who not for the first time this season scored an important goal for Moyes' men, was left unmarked at a corner and was free to head home at the back post.
It was awful defending by Brighton, in particular goal scorer Dunk going from hero to zero as he let the ball fly past him to the incoming West ham midfielder. Someone should have been organising better and Sourcek should have been picked up by one of the 10 outfield Brighton players that were "defending" the corner. As the captain and centre back, Dunk will have to shoulder this one.
On reflection a draw was fair. Both sides are now a few without a win, West Ham you feel have a lot of potential in their side to pick up again and go on another run.
Brighton should be worried going into the New Year. They have a tough game against fellow strugglers Arsenal next, 3 points there for either side will be vital.
WEST HAM 2 BRIGHTON 2
Johnson 60 Maupay 44
Soucek 82 Dunk 70
Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur were dealt a late blow by Wolves at Molineux on Sunday night. Spurs would have moved up to 3rd with a win, but they instead had to settle for a point after an equaliser for the home side damaged their chances of keeping pace with league leaders Liverpool.
The game started quickly as Spurs flew out the traps and took an early lead. Tanguy Ndombele, who was celebrating his birthday, drove a low 25 yard shot past a helpless Patricio in the Wolves goal after Ben Davies laid him off after just 57 seconds. At first it looked like there may have been a deflection, but replays showed there wasn't. The keeper did look to have been unable to see the ball clearly though when it was struck, if he had clear sight of the ball then it surely would have been a save for the Portuguese number 1. If he could see the ball however, it was a poor mistake.
Spurs and Jose didn't care, they were in the ascendancy.
Spanish full-back Reguilon had the best chances to score after that. One effort was hit straight at the keeper when the Spurs man really should have scored. The ball fell to him in a good position on his favoured left foot, but he couldn't find the gaps either side of Patricio in the Wolves goal.
The home side pressed for goal in the second half, they forced Tottenham to defend for long periods and as the game was getting later in the day, gaps were starting to appear. Several shots were blocked well by Spurs defenders, whilst Ruben Neves saw an effort saved by Hugo Lloris. Then, 4 minutes from time their reward came. Wolves got a corner on the right hand side, Pedro Neto swung a wonderful, curling ball into the near post and Romain Saïss glanced his header across the keeper into the far corner. It was a lovely header from a well worked corner. Spurs were crestfallen, their bottling instincts shining through again.
In fairness that's harsh, Wolves are a very good side. Its just frustrating as a neutral watching Spurs continue to be so, well, SPURSY! Just when you think they're changing their ways, you get a result like today which proves different.
All is not lost for the boys from North London. A champions league finish would be a great season for them this season as they aren't as good as Liverpool yet, and i think under Jose they will achieve that no problem. Any talk of a title challenge is delusion.
Wolves will be looking to kick on after only 1 win in 4 games. They have no need to worry by any stretch, they will be competing for a Euro league spot come may. A trip to Man Utd is next for Nuno and his players.
WOLVES 1 TOTTENHAM 1
Saïss 86 Ndombele 1