The Premier League was back to full strength following the staggered winter break and the Liverpool and West Ham game was shown a lot of interest. On one side we know Liverpool will win the league this season but could they keep their unbeaten run up? The other was West Ham who faced the threat of relegation and came into this game as the huge underdogs.
Liverpool’s big loss was Jordan Henderson who has been ruled out for 3 weeks with a hamstring injury and perhaps at times in this game his influence in midfield was missed.
Jurgen Klopp opted to play his usual 4-3-3 and David Moyes at West Ham went for 4-2-3-1. Even though Moyes had left predictably one up front it was relief, at least, to see the Scotsman change his attitude not go for five at the back and try to park the bus so to speak. Perhaps losing to Manchester City in the Hammers last game put paid to that system, and instead we got a West Ham performance that was utterly refreshing.
The game looked like it was going to be a formality before a ball was kicked and just after it was it still seemed that way as Georgino Wijnaldum scored after just 9 minutes and man of the moment Trent-Alexander Arnold was on hand to assist on the goal. It was Wijnaldum’s 3rd goal for the club this season.
Now if there is one criticism which could be launched at Liverpool this season (and we are clutching at straws) but it would be that the Reds have found it very hard to close up games. How many times have they been 1-0 up with just minutes left or 2-0 up with most of the game to play and the opposite team enjoying some decent chances. Liverpool still remain unbeaten in the league but quite a few games have been on a knife edge. This game would add to that.
Within 180 seconds of Liverpool’s goal, West Ham had equalised through Issa Diop, which left a few people stunned given that Liverpool have only conceded 9 goals all season at home up to that point. At 1-1 Liverpool responded in attack but there was a feeling that something was in the air, and West Ham who would usually shut up shop, came after the Reds, and were happy to attack themselves.
In the first half alone there was 13 corners which just told you how many attacks on goal their hand been, the real surprise was that 6 of them had come from West Ham.
Though there had been a lot of great play and attacking intent from both sides in the 1st half, Liverpool had only had 2 shots on target with West Ham having one. But if the first half was good, then the second half was something compared to a mini classic, as we witnessed a further 3 goals.
Goals are the game when Liverpool are playing but nobody would have expected the Reds to have gone 2-1 down at home, Liverpool being behind in a game is becoming very rare, but that is exactly what happened. Declan Rice set up Pablo Fornals who launched a beautiful shot into the back of the Liverpool goal and passed Alisson. Rare to see Alisson ship 2 goals in a game too, and even rarer to see Fornals score and have an overall decent game. Now West Ham were 2-1 up, we could expect to see the very best of Liverpool, and the corners kept raining down from the home team.
Fourteen minutes after West Ham had took the lead the pressure told though and Mohamed Salah scored his 15th goal of the season to make it 2-2 and it was an assist by Andrew Robertson. Indeed all of Liverpool’s assists would be by defenders in the game.
If the truth be told even a 2-2 draw would have been remarkable for the Hammers given that only Manchester United have taken points from Liverpool this season. But Liverpool aren’t European and World club champions for nothing and that man Sadio Mane perhaps the very best player at Liverpool this season came up trumps once again to give Liverpool all three points.
It had been an amazing game and West Ham played their part. They didn’t come here and lose 4-0 like in previous seasons, and each player could look in the mirror. If the club bring this intensity and passion to their remaining fixtures then they won’t be going down.
As for Liverpool it is just total dominance and they now have 79 points, that is the same number of points that won the league for the club in 1990, when they were last crowned English champions. West Ham did well, but Liverpool even in a game where they didn’t perform to their best still managed to conjure up 25 goal attempts, which says it all about how strong this team are.
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