Toure pays ‘price of trying to play’

West Brom 1 Liverpool 1

Toure pays ‘price of trying to play’

Two days after the January transfer window closed, with Liverpool failing to strengthen for their bid to return to Champions League, they stutter to a draw against a side struggling near the bottom of the Premier League.

Undoubtedly Rodgers has the quality of players at his disposal to reach the top four, but there are reservations about whether he has the numbers.

With Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge there’s undoubtedly strength, but the jury is out on whether they have the depth to sustain them over the rest of the campaign.

When Rodgers glanced at the bench in search of a potential match-winner after Victor Anichebe equalised for West Brom at The Hawthorns his options boiled down to Iago Aspas and Victor Moses.

A loan player not considered good enough for Chelsea and a lightweight Spanish striker were hardly going to change the game and the Irishman knew it.

Instead, on went more trusted hands Martin Kelly and Joe Allen as Rodgers put faith on those already on the pitch with a tactical switch.

You sense it could be a common theme for the remainder of the campaign.

Liverpool’s failure to complete a deal for Dnipro’s Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka on deadline day may well come back to haunt them later in the campaign.

Fresh faces bring fresh impetus to a club.

Although the Liverpool boss insists the club did everything they could to sign Konoplyanka and said he will certainly not let it undermine their progress.

“It would have been nice to get some reinforcements in, but it wasn’t to be the case and is of no consequence now,” Rodgers said.

“The football club did absolutely everything possible to get the player in, in every aspect. From our part categorically the football club and Ian Ayre did a brilliant job out there negotiating.

“Now I need to work with the players here. We’ve done brilliantly up to this point and we’ve got 14 games to go and we’re still in a great position with games to play. The squad is focused on our objective so I can’t afford to think about what we could have done. Now I’m happy with the players I’ve got here.”

Liverpool seized control of the contest with the opening goal shortly before the half-hour mark as Suarez and Sturridge combined to devastating effect.

Raheem Sterling’s pass found Suarez inside the penalty area and the Uruguay international jinked his way through the hosts’ defence and crossed for Sturridge, who was left with a simple tap-in at the back post.

Suarez should have increased Liverpool’s lead on the hour when he got on the end of Kolo Toure’s long ball and outmuscled Uruguayan compatriot Diego Lugano only for Ben Foster to narrow the angle and save brilliantly.

Liverpool were punished for their profligacy in the 67th minute, though, after a mistake by Toure which allowed West Brom to equalise.

The Ivorian passed the ball across the edge of the penalty area and former Everton striker Victor Anichebe, three minutes after he came on, was alert enough to intercept and he emphatically struck a low shot past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet into the bottom-left corner of the net.

“Kolo is devastated with the mistake,” Rodgers added. “I said to him sometimes that’s the price you pay when you try to play football.

“He shouldn’t have received the ball in the first place, it wasn’t the time for him to receive it. But that’s part of our learning. In the last 18 months we’ve shown the courage and bravery to play football – part of that is to build the game from behind. Unfortunately, for the first time this season, we’ve been punished for that.

“We’ll carry on doing it that way, going forward, and playing from the back.

“It’s not about pragmatism. You [media] will be the same guys saying England can’t play football and you wonder why. The defenders have to have the courage to play.”

The point helped West Brom in their battle to avoid relegation and head coach Pepe Mel believes he can see his coaching methods having an impact a fortnight after he took over.

“In two weeks we have done good work,” Mel said.

“I am surprised how tight it is at the bottom. But, that is the Premier League, and all teams are big teams. It is important to work day-in, day-out because I am sure next season West Brom will be in the Premier League.”

WEST BROM (4-3-3): Foster 8; Jones 7, McAuley 7, Olsson 6 (Lugano 41; 6), Ridgewell 6; Yacob 6, Mulumbu 7, Gera 8; Berahino 5 (Anichebe 64; 8), Vydra 5 (Dorrans 76; 6), Brunt 7.

LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Mignolet 6; Flanagan 6 (Kelly 74; 6), Cissokho 7, Toure 4, Skrtel 5; Gerrard 6, Henderson 5; Sterling 6, Coutinho 5 (Allen 74; 6), Suarez 7; Sturridge 8.

Referee: Kevin Friend.

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