Brendan Rodgers couldn’t have asked for a worst Premier League debut with Liverpool – Losing 0-3 to West Brom at the Hawthorns while losing his most important defender, Daniel Agger, to a questionable red card and also watching Joe Cole leaving the match injured, which is pretty much a given every time he’s on the pitch.
Did West Brom deserve the two penalties they got? In my opinion, the first one, the Daniel Agger foul on Shane Long, was a bit soft. Long had no business going down, but that’s football these days, and you have to help the referee realize things he missed, even if there was no reason to go down.
Rodgers: I’m not going to go on about referees but thought the two penalty decisions were very, very harsh, three decisions if you include the sending off. Martin Skrtel doesn’t make contact with Shane Long. The first one there is slight contact but I know Shane well and I know how big and strong he is. It was very, very harsh. That changed the game because with 10 men it is very difficult.
Liverpool weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggests. They had 18 attempts, but only 2 on goal. Luis Suarez was very hard to contain, and his speed along with Fabio Borini will create a lot of problems for opposing defenses this season, but it was clear to see these weren’t the Europa League matches against Gomel. West Brom counter attack very quickly and aggressively, and Liverpool seemed a bit slow to react whenever they lost possession. They did have more of it (60-40), but that doesn’t really mean anything when your strikers keep missing chances.
Steve Clarke, the WBA manager, knows that the first penalty wasn’t there. It wasn’t an Ashley Young kind of dive, but you expect footballers to be a bit harder to knock off their feet. Still, he couldn’t call him a cheat, could he? The decisions went for us but there was contact on both occasions. Shane is an honest player and tried to get his shot away after the contact from Daniel Agger. The second one was a foul and a penalty.
And you can see Liverpool players are struggling, at first at least, with the new ways. Pass and move is fine, but you have to know what do without the ball and how to retain possession. How not to be embarrassed each time a team counters against you. Next week its Manchester City, probably without Agger. City, at Anfield, will probably look to defend and poach goals, which they’re perfectly equipped to do. Liverpool have to be a bit less naive and a bit more grabbing when chances do come. A little bit of better refereeing won’t be too bad as well.