It was a tough day at the office for West Ham, one of the toughest they’ll have all season. Following such an exciting transfer window, it was an incredibly anticlimactic 90 minutes which got the Hammers’ season underway, as they succumbed to a 4-0 loss against Liverpool. Goals from last season’s top scorer Mo Salah, two goals from Sadio Mane –one of which was clearly offside- and a late header from substitute Daniel Sturridge secured the points for Liverpool.
As disappointing as the result and in parts the performance were, there is no need for supporters to overreact following this result. Despite spending around £100 million on new recruits, it was always going to be a challenge for a new group of players to face opposition of Liverpool’s calibre.
There were times where the side were clearly unable to deal with the threat that they were facing, others where the midfield were overrun and plenty of occasions where they found it impossible to get out of their own half. However, when coming up against this level of opposition it was obvious that the Hammers would be pinned back at times, the most disappointing aspect is probably that when there were openings at the other end they weren’t taken, with Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio both failing to convert relatively easy chances.
Regarding the new faces in the team –of which there were five from the start and one coming off the bench- there was a mixed bag of performances. In truth there wasn’t too much Lukasz Fabianski could do about the goals, Ryan Fredericks had bright moments and Felipe Anderson worked hard and didn’t shirk his defensive duties, but struggled to create anything of note going forward. Fabian Balbuena seemed to struggle with the pace of the game at times, picking up a yellow card for a late tackle on Mane.
One of the brightest sparks for the Hammers was free signing Jack Wilshere, who was often the main player to transition the ball from the back to front, especially during the first half when he was played in front of Mark Noble and Declan Rice. Andriy Yarmolenko, who replaced Arnautovic in the 67th minute, was dangerous at points, pushing Andrew Robertson back more than his team mates had done and putting threatening balls into the box.
Though West Ham and their players shouldn’t be written off following this performance and result, it is disappointing and they will have to improve going forward. However, full judgement should be reserved until upcoming fixtures have been played out. The Hammers have both Arsenal and Chelsea in their next five games, so it is important that they get results against AFC Bournemouth, Wolves and Everton who they will also play in that period.
The next game is at home against the Cherries on Saturday, which is a much more realistic proposition and will see the team take a different approach. Where West Ham were pinned back during this game by one of the best attacks in the world, they should be capable of imposing their game on the opposition next week.
It was clear for all to see that this performance was far from perfect, there were still small glimpses of potential in the side. A positive result against Bournemouth will definitely ease the impact of this disappointing result.
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