Liverpool, who had dominated possession in the first half, had taken the lead as early as the 12th minute. Sadio Mane took down Joel Matip’s pass expertly on his chest before rifling a first-time finish past Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal.
However, a dogged defensive performance typical of a well-drilled Allardyce side saw West Brom restrict the Reds’ efforts on goal, with the visitors going into the break trailing by just a solitary goal.
West Brom emerged in the second half with much more attacking intent, making forward forays with increasing regularity and asking difficult questions of the Liverpool backline. Their efforts to get back into the game finally paid off in the 82nd minute when Ajayi rose highest to head home Matheus Pereira’s probing cross.
The home side were sparked into action after conceding the equaliser and were close to retaking the lead in the 89th minute when a Roberto Firmino header was thwarted by a fantastic diving save from Johnstone.
West Brom eventually held on to earn a deserved share of the spoils, thus becoming the first team not to leave Anfield empty-handed this season.
Even though the Baggies remain five points from safety, they will no doubt take heart from the draw while Liverpool extend their lead at the top of the table to three points.
On that note, here are the five major talking points from Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with West Brom at Anfield.
#1 ‘Big Sam’ is already starting to work his magic at West Brom
Over the years, Sam Allardyce has crafted himself a reputation as a manager who can successfully keep sides in the Premier League after taking over mid-season, having done so four times already prior to replacing Slaven Bilic this season.
A visit to Liverpool might be daunting to most managers these days. However, Allardyce has good memories of Anfield, enjoying the distinction of being the last visiting manager to win a league game at the ground amidst an unbeaten four-game run.
The Baggies sat extremely deep in the first half, sometimes even playing as a back six, allowing the home side to enjoy a staggering 82% possession. Such was the Reds’ dominance that Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson alone made more passes in the first half than the entire West Brom side put together.
However, having restricted the league leaders’ scoring to just one in the first half, West Brom attacked in the second half with renewed vigour. The visitors were helped by an injury to Joel Matip in the Liverpool defence before pulling level in the 82nd minute.
Although his spell at West Brom did not get off to the best of starts after suffering a defeat against Aston Villa in his first game in charge, Allardyce’s methods already seem to be bringing about positive results.
#2 Liverpool's injury crisis in defence deepens
With both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, defensive mainstays for most of last season’s title-winning campaign for the Reds, out with long-term injuries, it has fallen on Fabinho and Joel Matip to hold the Liverpool fort at the back this season.
To their credit, Liverpool’s makeshift centre-back pairing has exceeded expectations with their performances while being helped out by youngsters Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips on occasion.
Thus the Liverpool faithful would have been extremely disheartened to see Matip go down injured in this game; the experienced defender seemingly experienced trouble in the groin region before being replaced by Williams just after the hour mark.
With West Brom already making more of an effort to get back into the contest in the second half, Matip’s injury seemed to give them the boost they needed to double their efforts for which they were rewarded with a late equaliser.
The Reds will now be hoping that Matip’s injury isn’t a serious one, and that they will see him back on the pitch sooner rather than later, as their defensive options start to run thin.