Liverpool 2-3 West Brom: Reds crash out of FA Cup fourth round for third consecutive season

Liverpool ​crashed out of the FA Cup fourth-round for the third successive season in a row with an abject display against ​West Brom​The Reds took an early lead after a delightful chip from Roberto Firmino caught out Ben Foster, only to fall short after more defensive mishaps. With two defeats on the bounce for Klopp's side, the search for a trophy will go on another year.

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VAR dominates the headlines at Anfield

Video assisted refeering has been widely debated amongst football fans; some argue that it disrupts the rhythm of games, stopping play for sustained periods of time much to the frustration of the onlooking crowd. Yet, it proved it's worth at Anfield, playing a part in two major first-half decisions from Craig Pawson; first ruling out Craig Dawson's towering header for a foul on Firmino before awarding Liverpool a penalty after Barry tugged Salah inside the area. 

While neither decision had much impact on the overall outcome, with Firmino unable to convert from the spot, it does serve as a reminder of the benefits to such assistance in the future of football. There are clearly issues to iron out, such as the long delays in play for a judgement to be made, but on another day those calls could've had a huge say in the eventual result. 

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Midfield missing for Jurgen's Reds

Fielding a strong side, Klopp opted for a midfield trio of Wijnaldum, Can and the in-form Oxlade-Chamberlain from the off. However, all three failed to deliver anything of note for The Reds, with Joel Matip and Van Dijk tasked with coming out of the back with the ball and slotting it into the front three. The stark lack of creativity within the side will raise further questions over Liverpool's decision to part ways with Coutinho midway through the campaign as pressure mounts on a top-four finish and subsequent successes in the Champions League. 

Things looked slightly rosier when Henderson and Milner entered the fray in the second-half, with the club captain looking to make inroads going forward. In the end it proved too little too late though in another performance that highlighted the need for Liverpool to delve into the January market for a creative spark. 

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Defensive mishaps far greater than just one man

Liverpool got off to the perfect start when Jonny Evans misjudged a pass to allow Mohamed Salah through on goal. While the Egyptian couldn't find the finish, Firmino was on hand to deliver a stunning lob to put the hosts in front and increase his tally for the season. However, moments later and Liverpool showed off their not-so pretty side. Straight from the kick-off, West Brom surged forward, capitalising on the acres of space left behind the Liverpool midfield. Wriggling past Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum, Jay Rodgriguez produced a stunning finish from the edge of the area, slamming the ball into the top corner and beyond the reach of Simon Mignolet. 

Defending has been Liverpool's achilles heel all too often and it was very much a similar case here, with The Baggies forward on hand to score his second of the game just a few minutes later. Krychowiak ghosted past Emre Can in the middle of the park before shifting the ball out wide where the resulting delivery found Rodgriguez' head at the back post, having been left free by Moreno. 

The series of individual errors at the back confirm that Liverpool's defensive issues are far greater than their £75million record signing as 19th placed West Brom secured their second win since August - one of which came against Exeter City.

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Need to strengthen abundantly clear following Coutinho exit

With £142million sitting in the bank, Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke made up the attacking options for Liverpool on the substitutes bench. With one yet to score for the club and the other still recovering from a long injury lay-off, it highlighted the need for Klopp to splash the cash in what remains of the January window. Ings' movement off the ball when he enetered the fray is worthy of a mention, but this was a game screaming for some world-class quality off the bench for The Reds. 

Whether it be Thomas Lemar, Riyad Mahrez or any of the other names mentioned, Liverpool desperately need a signing to inject some creativity and style back into this side. Failure to do so could cost them in the top-four race.