Observations as Liverpool add to Bilic's Woes
Liverpool continued their winning ways at the London Stadium, comfortably beating West Ham 4-1 to head into the international break in good spirits. Goals from Mohamed Salah, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ensured The Reds’ dominant performance was reflected in the score-line as The Hammers were the latest side to suffer at the hands of a fully firing front three.
Here are the observations from the match.
Klopp throws a spanner in the works with team selection
For all the criticisms over his stubbornness, Klopp really shook things up with his team selection against The Hammers. A thoroughly attack-minded starting eleven saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gifted a start in his favoured position while Sadio Mane made up a surprise package having returned from injury two weeks earlier than expected.
The flexibility of the formation was astounding – there were times it looked as though Liverpool were playing a 4-2-3-1, then a 4-2-2-2 and even a 4-2-4 in the second-half. Breaking away from the usual system breathed new air into the team, with the attackers proving a nightmare for West Ham to deal with.
It was a completely dominant performance from The Reds and given how much we criticise him when he gets it wrong, Klopp deserves the credit for getting it right here.
Another Mo Salah masterclass
The Egyptian just keeps on going from strength to strength for Liverpool. Scoring 6 goals in his last five games, Salah delivered another monumental performance against West Ham, with his pace proving far too much for the defence to handle. His finishing wasn’t bad either, showing a cool head to set the ball rolling before thumping in a second after the interval.
12 in 17 is a remarkable return for a wide man and at the rate he’s going, Liverpool could well have the 30+ goal-scorer that the fans have been craving. What a seamless fit he is for Jurgen’s style of football.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s path of progression continues
When Chamberlain first made the summer switch to Anfield, many fans not only questioned the reported fee but what exactly he could offer Jurgen Klopp’s team. That was only exacerbated by his early performances in Liverpool colours where he struggled to add any sort of impetus from the substitutes bench.
However, Saturday’s game was a clear indication of the progression the former-Arsenal man has undergone, getting far more involved in an attacking sense while showing nous in possession to set up his teammates in space.
Scoring his first Premier League goal for Liverpool will do him the world of good and you could see just what it meant to him to get off the mark as he continues to progress following a shaky start.
Firmino misses chance to cap off bright display
Arguably my tip for Man of the Match alongside Mohamed Salah, Firmino was a constant menace to West Ham on Saturday evening. The Brazilian delivered a beautiful turn in the build-up to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal and showed similar verve throughout the match with incisive movement to keep the defence on their toes.
He really should have got himself on the score-sheet, though. For all his hard work, when the chance came for him to get his moment of glory he fluffed his lines. That look of ruthlessness has haunted Liverpool in the past and could well do so again but with Mohamed Salah firing 12 goals in 17 games, The Reds’ reliance on him for goals may not be so much of a problem.
Liverpool score from a corner…again
I never thought I’d see the day when Liverpool scored from a corner. Usually so ineffective from set plays, The Reds love to squander chances to put the ball into the box and test the opposition. Yet, in the past two league games, we’ve seen the unimaginable occur. Joel Matip was the lucky recipient this time around, capitalising on a deflection from Mark Noble to prod home from close range.
There’s something rather nice about seeing Liverpool score such easy goals. Of course, we love to see Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane combining beautifully to score an intricate goal but the rudimentary goals are equally as satisfying to see – especially having been without such set-piece prowess for so long. I’ll savour it while it lasts – however short that may be.