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Football News: Liverpool v West Ham United - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v West Ham United - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v West Ham United A Liverpool Perspective

 


It was not a great watch, but once again Liverpool ground out a win when it mattered. Despite all the talk of how they are not playing as well as last season, they spent most of last season doing exactly this and the media and pundits saying they were not playing as well as the previous season. It is reminiscent of the 1980s, when Liverpool would just grind their opponents down, tiring them out by moving the ball around until gaps appeared late in the game. It was only when there was an early breakthrough that Liverpool would be able to rip teams apart, as opponents would otherwise sit in and leave no gaps for Liverpool to use.

At the moment there is a definite blueprint for the opposition to use against Liverpool, which does stifle the team, but has not actually managed to stop them. It is based around a deep-lying midfielder man-marking Firmino and leaving the central defenders free to stay in position. No longer is Firmino's movement able to pull the centre-backs out of place and leave gaps for Salah and Mane to exploit. It does mean the opposition tend to be less able to build any attacks of their own or controlled possession, but it also makes it more difficult for Liverpool to create meaningful attacks.

In fact, that was a big worry, that Liverpool had such difficulty creating anything, the ball movement was too slow in the first half and a lot of the players looked jaded at times, from both sides. Liverpool did improve in the second half, moving the ball with more purpose and reaped the benefits. There is a real issue with crosses though, they are never shut down. West Ham were able to put crosses in any time they got forward, without anyone doing a thing to stop them. That does need to be looked at when facing teams such as the Hammers.

 


West Ham United

 

Moyes once again showed why he has never won at Anfield, his attitude is too negative going into the game. Yes they were missing their main man up front in Antonio, but they were in good form and full of confidence coming into the match, but he still set up to try and avoid defeat. They did defend well and made Liverpool work for the win, but it was never really in doubt, in my opinion. Moyes is like Hodgson, extremely limited, it is difficult to see the promised Champions League football coming with him in charge as too many points will get dropped playing for a draw.

They are well organised and will get crosses into the box every chance they get, but the Hammers look toothless without Antonio and that is a real worry. Especially when you consider that he tends to miss chunks of every season through injury. They really need to find an alternative for those games he is unavailable for, which is clearly not Haller as a loan forward. It is not his game. The few times I saw him play before he moved to West Ham, he was actually playing more of a numer 10 role, behind a poacher (I think it was Jovic if I remember correctly but I am probably wrong on that one as my memory is very vague on this). Maybe it is time for Haller to be used once more in a deeper role, while someone else covers the Antonio role?

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - Once more Klopp found a way to win with his substitutions once more proving to be crucial. It is a far cry from his early days with Liverpool when most of the criticism surrounded his use (or lack of) substitutions. Now he has the players to come on and change the game he is doing so regularly.

 

Alisson - A fairly quiet game for Alisson. Had little chance with the goal, was not really tested other than that, other than maybe could have been a bit more forceful when crosses came in. Maybe.

 

Alexander-Arnold - Played well though I do wish he would have done more to stop the crosses from coming in. There were far too many balls coming in to the box and that is always dangerous. It only takes a slip or mistake and it is a good chance for the opposition, as we saw. He needs to close down the wide men properly and give them less space. The rest of his defensive game has come on in leaps and bounds, that is the one outstanding weak spot left in his game. Though it must be said on the goal he dropped far too early and deep, while the rest held the line, the key issue with that was that he then never dealt with the runner and allowed a cross to come in far too easily. Alexander-Arnold has to shut that player out if he is going to choose to abandon the defensive line.

 

Phillips - The debutant was clearly being targeted by Haller, who tried to use his strength and height to bully the new boy but, apart from one or two headers, Phillips got the better of their battle. He was also very good at attacking the set-pieces and crosses coming into the box. A very impressive first game.

 

Gomez - Unfortunately for him, his day will be remembered for one poorly directed header that Fornals scored from. It is a shame because overall he was very good, apart from a few over-hit passes out from the back.

 

Robertson - Like Trent, he was not dealing with crosses. His game overall was once again really good, but you have to deal better with widemen when playing against a team managed by the likes of Moyes. His tactical plan always heavily favours getting the ball into the box and it is never a good idea to make it easy for his players to do so!

 

Henderson - While he is not getting to play in his best role at the moment, his importance to the team cannot be overstated. When Klopp talked about 'mentality monsters', he was describing Henderson, whose leadership makes so much difference. An excellent player, but it his leadership and the way he inspires the rest that makes him particularly key to results like this.

 

Wijnaldum - Had a really good game, covered so much ground and was one of the few on the pitch that did not look to be slowing down after an hour. He has impressed in the last couple, as others are fading due to the amount of football they are playing, he has come in and looked fresh and fired up. Well as fired up as Gini Wijnaldum can look.

 

Jones - Jones struggled to get into the game and is far too slow to close down to allow a press to work properly with him in the team. While he does lack a little in the physical department, it is mentally that he is struggling. He is still learning the role and that shows as he is reacting late to the triggers.

 

Salah - Had an excellent game overall, chasing back, constantly moving the defenders around and trying to make something happen, though his game will be remembered for one moment, just like Gomez. It was soft, he did go down far too easily, but it was a foul. I am not sure what the answer is to all the players doing this, I hate to see them make the most of contact but it is just as frustrating to see them fouled and the ref ignore it because the player did not go to ground.

 

Firmino - Had Soucek closely monitoring him throughout the game and so found it difficult to get involved and had a quiet game. A couple of nice moments but not much else. However, what he is doing is tying down one of the Hammers best players for most of the game, so it was not a wasted afternoon.

 

Mane - At times was shockingly bad, repeatedly gave the ball away early on. He did pick up his game as the match went on thankfully and got better and better as the game went on.

 

Jota - replaced Firmino in the 70th minute. The arrival of him and Shaqiri changed the game and lifted the momentum of the game. His first goal was sadly ruled out by VAR for a foul by Mane that was difficult to see. So much for clear and obvious! Jota certainly never let it phase him and he just put it in the back of the net again for the winner. His contribution has been growing each time he plays.

 

Shaqiri - came on for Jones at the same time as Jota. It really seems like Shaqiri has figured out exactly how to be a Klopp player now. Gone is the sometimes lazy player that turned out for the likes of Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Stoke City at times, instead there is the Switzerland international that gives his all and works hard for the team. What has never been in doubt is his ability and he once again proved it with a delicious ball for Jota's winner. He just needs to stay fit and continue to work hard and he will be in line for a lot more game time this season.

 

Milner - took the place of Salah in the 90th minute as Klopp looked to see out the game. Only came on to close things out, but managed to put himself about and get involved in the few minutes he was on the pitch.

Written by Tris Burke November 02 2020 12:59:09

 

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