Observations as Liverpool move one step closer to the Champions League
It’s been a long time since Liverpool comfortably demolished their opponents to coast towards three points. Such was the case at the London stadium, with the Reds delivering when it mattered most to secure a 4-0 victory over West Ham.
Making a rare start for the club after another injury-plagued season, it was Daniel Sturridge who opened the scoring. Coutinho produced an inch perfect ball to carve open the defence and unleash the striker through on goal, with Sturridge then showing his class and composure to slot past the ‘keeper.
The Brazilian then got on the scoresheet himself after Wijnaldum’s long range volley cannoned off the crossbar to the feet of Coutinho. He weaved his way past the defenders before drilling the ball into the corner, and Liverpool had the breathing space they so desperately needed.
However, they didn’t rest on their laurels, with Coutinho doubling his tally just minutes later. The home side had their penalty appeals waved away before Liverpool broke on the counter and the Brazilian showed more composure to jiggle his way past Collins and convert. Game, set, and match.
Origi even got in on the act as West Ham went out with a whimper. Sturridge crossed the ball into the danger zone before Wijnaldum’s miscued shot fell Origi’s way.
The result means that Liverpool will secure their position in the Champions League if they beat Middlesbrough at Anfield next weekend. Here are the observations from the match.
Sturridge Makes Crucial Impact
Right from the word go, Sturridge was at it. Focused and determined to prove his worth to the team with Champions League football on the line, he showed Liverpool exactly what they’ve been missing.
His goal was reminiscent of the 2013/14 season where a telepathic relationship between him and Coutinho so often came up trumps. Such was the case here, with Sturridge’s incisive movement perfectly timed to latch on to a stunning ball from his teammate, leaving him through on goal. Composure and class – Sturridge was never going to miss his chance.
You couldn’t tell this was a player without a start in the league since January. The England international looked as sharp as ever, eager to make a telling contribution towards Liverpool’s top-four push. With speculation intensifying over his future beyond this season, that could well have been his penultimate performance, but what a performance it was. Should he leave in the summer, he’s determined to go out with a bang.
Coutinho Pulling Strings From Midfield
Creating 5 chances in the first half, with 3 shots, one take on and one assist gives proof of the Brazilian’s dominant performance. Deployed in a deeper midfield role, Coutinho pulled the strings for Liverpool, carving out through ball after through ball for Sturridge and Origi to make inroads.
With his tally now up to 16 goals and 10 assists for the season, Coutinho’s future clearly lies in the central areas. In the decisive area with people moving in and around him, he can carve out the chances for Liverpool. That’s exactly what he did at the London Stadium, shining above everyone else in a crucial game for the club. This was a truly stunning performance from the little magician.
Can continues to shine
A performance that will largely have gone under the radar with Coutinho and Sturridge gaining the majority of the plaudits, but Emre Can once again put in a stellar display. Dogged and determined in his challenges, he brought steel and stability to the Liverpool midfield, helping to combat with the physicality of West Ham.
The German continues to make a strong case for a new contract, with plenty still to offer the side heading into next season. Klopp will know just how crucial it is to tie his future down before clubs across Europe come calling.
Finally, some luck!
Ah, finally. We’ve watched Manchester United, Arsenal and City all have their fair share of luck this season through ominous officiating. But it was Liverpool who finally got some at the London Stadium, with Andre Ayew producing one of the misses of the season when the score was 0-1.
Two yards out, with Lovren in no man’s land, you’d have bet your house on the forward converting to level it up. Somehow, all he could manage was two efforts striking the base of Mignolet’s post – much to the relief of everyone in Red.
That wasn’t the only bit of controversy, though. Georginio Wijnaldum could easily have conceded a penalty before Liverpool broke down and converted at the other end. On another day, it could well have been a very different story for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but it was about time they got a bit of luck. Three points next Sunday and Liverpool return to the Champions League. Thank God for that!