Allardyce relishes tactical battle against Premier League giants

‘I’ve been able to master that over many years’: Sam Allardyce reveals he relishes the tactical battle of nullifying Premier League giants after Jurgen Klopp’s jibe about playing against ‘six at the back’ in West Brom’s draw at Liverpool

  • An 82nd-minute equaliser by Semi Ajayi saw West Brom snatch an unlikely point
  • Jurgen Klopp admitted he had been caught out by the visitors’ 6-4-0 formation
  • Sam Allardyce told talkSPORT Breakfast he loves trying to outwit the big boys 
  • The former Everton boss has still acknowledged that the defence must improve 

Sam Allardyce said he loves figuring out how to stop the league’s biggest teams after guiding his West Brom side to a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

Sadio Mane put the Reds in front after 12 minutes in a half when Jurgen Klopp’s utterly dominated possession and territory. 

However, the Baggies grew more into the game after the break and snatched an unlikely point when Semi Ajayi headed home Matheus Pereira’s corner on 82 minutes.

Sam Allardyce guided West Brom to an unlikely point that gave their survival hopes a boost

Semi Ajayi’s spinning header proved enough for a draw as the visitors showed great resilience

Klopp admitted he had been caught out by the striker-less 6-4-0 formation employed by Allardyce and the former Everton boss told talkSPORT Breakfast that the system has been honed over a significant period of time.  

‘I’ve been able to master that over many years and that’s why I’ve been doing it so long,’ revealed Allardyce.

‘You can challenge the best in your league and you can challenge your tactics against theirs as, more often than not, recently, my players are seen as not as good as the opposition.

‘We have to set out a tactical situation to nullify their strengths really and see what we can do by capitalising on what possession we get.’

The draw meant Allardyce has now collected five points during his three previous league trips to Anfield since April 2017, which incredibly is more than the number of points picked up at Liverpool’s fortress by the ‘big six’ clubs combined in that time. 

How did Allardyce feel after Ajayi had brought them level?

‘Tense and nervous, because I looked up at the clock to see how long was left and I was glad to see it was only about nine minutes plus injury time,’ he admitted. 

‘We had to defend the onslaught that Liverpool were putting on with everybody forward, and there were some magnificent saves from Sam Johnstone at the end as well. 

‘All round, everybody did their job. In terms of the goal, I didn’t see it until after, but thank God for the spin on the ball (for Ajayi’s goal).’ 

Allardyce’s last three league matches at Anfield have seen him pick up a win and two draws

Despite Sunday’s point, West Brom still remain 19th and Allardyce is pretty clear what needs to change. 

‘Looking at the situation we are in, it’s not difficult to see we need to change the goals against tally.

‘We’re the highest in the league in terms of goals conceded (along with Leeds) and when you look at our goals scored, I think that’s 11 in total. Obviously that’s not enough.

‘We have to increase our goal tally, but getting clean sheets is the first priority as it means that just one goal would win us a game instead of us drawing.

‘We’ve only had one win this season and that’s why we’re in the position we’re in, and somewhere along the line we need to try and start winning games.

‘That will come by defensive structure, getting more clean sheets and hopefully more goals in the end.’

Jurgen Klopp was dumbfounded after a game in which his side totally dominated possession

Klopp was left shellshocked after a game which saw his side have 78% possession, but the hosts only registered two shots on target having taken 17 shots in total. 

‘It was our own fault,’ the German admitted. ‘I don’t think anyone can expect West Brom would play like they did in the first-half. 6-4(-0) or whatever it was.

‘We did OK in the first half, but second half we didn’t do the same. They had counter-attacks. We gave set-pieces away and it’s our own fault.

‘It’s an incredible challenge to stay active when you constantly face ten men. West Brom deserve the point because we didn’t finish the game.

‘It’s difficult, it’s a busy period, but in the end everyone feels we should have done better. In the first half you prepare a team and today it was clear they would be defensive. 

‘We had in the first half really good situations but in the second half we didn’t have it anymore. It’s not a game we will talk about in 20 years, but it’s a game we had to play.’

West Brom host Leeds on December 29 before Liverpool face Newcastle at St. James’ Park the day after. 

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