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

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

 


Following on from the Spurs game during the week, this was even more like a return to the Liverpool of last season, finding a way to win even with most of the front 3 not playing. Like last season, most of the performances were about constantly moving the ball around high up the pitch to force the defence to react and tire them out. Then take advantage as they lose concentration to take the lead. After that it is just a case of picking them off as they come out to try and get a goal back. It is not the high-octane 'heavy-metal' football Klopp arrived with. It is much more measured, more controlled and more effective.

 



West Ham United

 

For once the Hammers came into this match in a great place to take the game to Liverpool but Moyes' experience against the Reds seems to have made him far too happy to play for a draw. He has got a terrible record against Liverpool down the years, but he is unlikely to get a better chance to get a win, but he showed far too much respect with his tactics. Especially when this was a Liverpool team using their 5th and 6th choice centre-backs and missing two of the front 3.

While fans can be unhappy with the tactical plan, there can be no complaints about workrate from the Hammers' side. Bowen, in particular, stood out with his desire to track back time and time again to break up attacks on his side. You do have to wonder if they have missed a chance to get a win though.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - difficult to argue with anything he did when the team won 3-1 and the first substitution he made led to the opening goal, but I really do not understand the choice of Origi over Minamino. The team won though, so you have to say Klopp got it right, even if I do still feel that it was more in spite of Origi than because of him. Tactically he got it spot on, that is for sure. The midfield were given freedom to get forward and it was late runs from that area that created most of the early chances to open up West Ham.

It also forced the focus away from just holding a deep line, as the team are not going to catch runners from deep offside, so they were forced to move away from holding extra men back to cover Salah and push them out to interfere with the runs. While that made the late runs more difficult, as there was a body in the way of a midfielder trying to start a run, it opened up space in the final third.

 

Alisson - swept up quickly when needed, but really was not called upon all that much. In games like this, it feels like he is looking in hope of a ball over the top to give himself something to do to stay warm!

 

Alexander-Arnold - looking close to his best again. Not only getting forward but worked back well to shut off any potential attacks down his side. He no longer looks a weak link defensively.

 

Phillips - Phillips played really well, used his body well to stop Antonio getting a clear run on him and read set pieces well and was always in position to head them clear (even if Robbo did divert it ahead of him on the Hammers' goal). In fact the very first West Ham free kick, he was the only player that read it and got back in a sea of West Ham runners to head it clear. There was even a nice moment when he carried the ball out from defence. If only he had been given more of a chance sooner, instead of Williams, you have to think Liverpool would be in a stronger league position.

 

Henderson - once again impressive there, he has looked like a natural defender. Even showed a good turn of pace to beat Bowen to a through ball, and Bowen is quick. Henderson is showing what an exceptional footballer he truly is, no matter what some people may have suggested regarding his running style.

 

Robertson - he was having to provide pretty much all the attacking thrust down the left and that allowed Bowen to chase back and double up on him, making it extremely difficult for him. Robertson still kept driving up and down the line though and never gave the Hammers peace down that side. His corners were awful though, hitting the first man each time, which is not like him.

 

Thiago - he looks so much better with the freedom to just go where he wants to and feels he can have the most effect. His interchange with the rest of the midfield and Shaqiri caused a lot of problems for the Hammers and Thiago made some dangerous forward runs too. He is not just there to pass the ball!

 

Milner - once again he was absolutely everywhere and it is understandable why he was wondering why he was the player to come off. It was good to see how well he dealt with the disappointment of being brought off when playing so well and even better to see his reaction when his replacement was integral in Liverpool opening the scoring just seconds later. It was a real insight into his relationship with Klopp and just what a great team man he is that he ran to Klopp beaming from ear to ear to tell him he was right to take him off.

 

Wijnaldum - his play in the deeper role is worrying to me. He gets caught in no man's land constantly and offers no protection to the defence, but is too deep to get involved much in the play. The only time he made a real impact on the game was after Liverpool went 2-0 up and Thiago dropped off and allowed him freedom to drive forward. Then he came alive and scored the third. Wijnaldum simply is not defensive-minded enough to really get the holding role properly and the midfield is too easy to get through with him there.

 

Origi - offered very little and was almost completely anonymous. He is not working hard enough nor doing enough on the ball. His tendency to shoot on sight when there are players in better positions is frustrating as well, especially as he fails to hit the target each time.

 

Salah - at times he was left to occupy the Hammers' entire defence on his own. As soon as he did get space he scored. Then, for good measure, he scored a fantastic second, one of the best quick break goals I can remember. Salah is a key player and has now scored 20 goals every season he has been at Liverpool.

 

Shaqiri - spent the game too deep to really influence it in the first half. He was not pressing high enough to shut down West Ham's defence or offering any help in midfield. He did provide some lovely link play when he got on the ball and was much improved at the start of the second, when he played higher up the pitch. What a pass he put on Salah's foot for the second as well, just before getting taken off.

 

Jones - replaced Milner in the 57th minute. Caused West Ham no end of problems with his running with the ball at his feet. That led to the opening goal and the Hammers midfield never really got to grips with him at all.

 

Firmino - came on in place of Shaqiri in the 69th minute. The team just looks so much more comfortable with him there. He is so important to the way Liverpool play it is a worry as his form has been patchy this season.

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain - was brought on in place of Origi in the 80th minute. Offered more going forward in the 10 minutes or so he was on than Origi had done but, and it is a big but, he fell asleep and did not do his job on the corner they scored from. If he had blocked his runner, then Liverpool keep a clean sheet.

Written by Tris Burke February 01 2021 10:32:57

 

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