Premier League Matchweek 15 hits and misses: Liverpool's injury crisis and Leeds on the defensive

West Brom's late equaliser at Anfield came as a heavy blow to Liverpool but Joel Matip's injury, sustained around 20 minutes earlier in the game, could prove more costly.

The 29-year-old trudged down the tunnel clutching his groin on the hour mark, with Jurgen Klopp offering a gloomy prognosis afterwards "Joel told me he felt something in his adductor, and that's obviously not too good," he said. "He was in a really good shape again but we have to accept it and carry on."

Liverpool, already without their first-choice centre-back pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez due to knee injuries, now face the prospect of navigating a hectic run of fixtures with youngsters Rhys Williams, Nathanial Phillips and Sepp van den Berg as their only natural centre-backs.

Fabinho will continue to fill in, of course, but Matip's injury is especially poorly timed as Klopp's side gear up for a run of three away games in 10 days - against Newcastle, Southampton and Aston Villa - followed by the visit of Manchester United on January 17.

The Reds may hope to have bolstered their defensive options by then but the January market becomes even more challenging when the whole world knows exactly what you need - and how badly you need it.

Liverpool risk being held to ransom by selling clubs, but if their only alternative is to try to defend their title with a selection of inexperienced youngsters and a repurposed midfielder, then they must do what it takes to bring in reinforcements.
Nick Wright

Should Spurs be worried about recent form?

It seems like a long time ago since Tottenham were top of the Premier League. The ecstasy of those big wins against Manchester United and Manchester City in an impressive unbeaten run has now been replaced by a worrying slip in form.

Spurs have won just one of their last six Premier League games - although that was the north London derby - and the Jose Mourinho tactic of sitting back and soaking up the pressure once again proved to be part of their downfall in Sunday's draw with Wolves.

Admittedly, it was a long time to try and hold on for a victory after Tanguy Ndombele's opener after 57 seconds. But Spurs only had one shot in the second half and none on target after the 21st minute. The usually effervescent Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane had only two shots between them.

Wolves had seven in the second half alone and poor defending from a corner allowed Romain Saiss to nod home a deserved equaliser late on.

After the game, Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports: "The disappointment is that they had it in their hands. If you are going to keep sitting back, you are asking for trouble. This wasn't a one-off. There are many, many games where this is happening. It is now becoming a pattern.

"And the more it happens, the more the players start to get negative and think 'it is going to happen again'. I think this is a major problem for Jose right now."

Mourinho played his cards close to his chest when questioned about his team's lacklustre attacking display, but whether it's fatigue, a lack of concentration or something wrong elsewhere, Mourinho needs to find a quick solution to keep Spurs in the top-four race.
Charlotte Marsh

Neto shines but Silva misses chance

Tottenham may have invited much of the pressure put on them but this was still the sort of front-foot performance from Wolves that supporters will have wanted to see after their disappointing showing at Burnley last time out. As so often this season it was 20-year-old Pedro Neto who was the standout performer for Nuno Espirito Santo's team.

Neto scored the winner against Chelsea in the previous game at Molineux but had to settle for the assist for Romain Saiss' late equaliser this time around. It was his seventh goal involvement of the Premier League campaign - four goals and three assists.

That is more than any of his Wolves team-mates. It is more than twice as many goal involvements by any Premier League player yet to celebrate his 21st birthday. Manchester City's Phil Foden and Ferran Torres are next on the list with two goals and one assist each. It shows how well he is progressing.

"It is because he is playing every game and he is working very hard," said Nuno. "He is reading his actions better as time goes by. He has ability and is versatile enough to play both sides of the attack but the actions must be more accurate when he changes sides."

Some stick to go with the carrot then, but while Neto shines, his teenage compatriot Fabio Silva missed the opportunity to enjoy his biggest moment yet in a Wolves shirt - failing to connect cleanly with a close-range header that would have won the game for his team.

There is huge pressure on Silva's shoulders because of the £35m price tag and the injury to Raul Jimenez that has required him to make the step up sooner than had been anticipated.

Nuno praised his overall performance but there is still a sense that Silva needs the boost in belief that his first Molineux goal would have brought. Without it, Wolves are likely to feel that more experience is needed in January. Not every youngster can have the impact of Pedro Neto.
Adam Bate

Big Sam puts his stamp on West Brom

West Brom's performance against Liverpool showed why Sam Allardyce remains the go-to man for Premier League clubs in crisis. His latest assignment may prove his toughest yet, but 11 days into his reign, there is already a sense of something stirring.

It appeared the Baggies were in for a long night when Sadio Mane struck Liverpool's early opener. With Mohamed Salah back in the starting line-up, the hosts' side actually looked stronger than the one that put seven goals past Crystal Palace before Christmas.

But West Brom were outstanding from then on, happily ceding possession to Liverpool and gleefully repelling everything they threw at them. The back four were disciplined and compact. Callum Robinson and Grady Diangana willingly dropped back to make it a back six.

The result was that Liverpool did not muster their second shot on target until the final minute of normal time, instead sending a series of half-chances high and wide. West Brom were simply too difficult to break down, too well organised and too resilient.

As the game wore on and Liverpool's frustration grew, West Brom became dangerous at the other end too, counter-attacking with pace and purpose and ultimately testing Alisson Becker more times than the Reds tested Sam Johnstone. "What a fantastic job they did," beamed Allardyce afterwards.

The 66-year-old is now unbeaten in his last four visits to Anfield, and it is a testament to the effectiveness of his methods that each of those results was achieved with a different club. West Brom remain five points from safety, but with Big Sam at the helm they won't go down without a fight.
Nick Wright

Phillips shores up Leeds' leaky defence

There has been plenty of criticism for Leeds' defence in recent weeks, and rightly so, especially after their 6-2 humbling against Manchester United at Old Trafford last week.

Heading into the game, Leeds had the worst defensive record in the Premier League conceding 30 goals, including 13 in their last four Premier League games.

They had also conceded the most Premier League goals from set-pieces this season with 14, something which Burnley had surely planned to exploit.

But Leeds, inspired by Kalvin Phillips, who was moved into the heart of a back three by Marcelo Bielsa, held firm against a physical Burnley side.

Ably assisted by goalkeeper Illan Meslier and defenders Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk, Phillips, playing in a role he has not filled much this season, produced an excellent performance as the hosts picked up a first clean sheet in over a month.

He put his body on the line on a number of occasions to make some crucial blocks and also got his head to the ball a number of occasions as the Sean Dyche's side bombarded the Leeds box.

"Phillips is player with a big capacity to adapt to playing in different positions on the pitch and the times showed he has had to play as a centre-back in the back three, every time he has done this he has had good responses, and he did today," Bielsa said after the victory.

And judging by his performance, it could well be a position we see him more and more over the coming weeks.
Oli Yew

    Brighton need to lose the unlucky tag

    At least Brighton emerged with another point, instead of being labelled 'unlucky losers' again. West Ham were poor in the first half, really poor, and it took a double substitution at the interval to spark any kind of life into a stagnant side.

    The Seagulls are becoming synonymous with bad luck. The pre-match facts included a typical nugget - suggesting they had shipped seven goals more than expected this season, according to xG. There's a similar story at the other end of the pitch - scoring four fewer than expected.

    But there is no escaping it, Brighton were unlucky, again, and thoroughly deserved three points at the London Stadium - notching the lion's share of possession, attempts at goal and endeavour.

    Their style is strikingly expansive and attractive but the end product remains largely ineffective, yet somehow on the cusp of clicking. Perhaps a fully-fit Adam Lallana, who was forced off at half-time, could wield more creative influence and help convert those chances into unmissable ones.

    Perhaps they just need time to 'click', but Graham Potter's men need to adopt the cliche of making their own luck - otherwise there could be a far harsher dose of bad fortune come May.
    Adam Smith

    Source: Sky Sports 


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