Controlled Liverpool Lift 19 Points Clear
Liverpool’s march to the Premier League title continued apace after their 2-0 win over West Ham at the London Stadium.
Goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain crowned a performance of controlled precision from the Reds, who seldom had to leave second gear against the beleaguered home side.
The victory for Jurgen Klopp’s team sees them 19 points ahead of Manchester City, having accumulated 70 points in January.
Liverpool looked to go for the jugular from the get go and Georginio Wijnaldum’s through ball sent Divock Origi behind in the left hand channel. The Belgian’s cross for Salah was miscued, though, and West Ham escaped unscathed.
The Reds enjoyed almost undiluted levels of possession in the opening 15 minutes, but, with the home team committed to sitting deep in their 451 shape, failed to manufacture any chances.
The visitors long spells of possession almost bore fruit in the 23rd minute. Roberto Firmino combined well with Salah at the edge of the box and the Egyptian deftly skipped a through ball into the path of Andrew Robertson. The angle was difficult, however, the Scots lifted finish rolled across the face of the goal before being cleared.
Favouring attacking down the left, Robertson was in the thick of it again on the half hour mark. A typically patient and probing Reds move saw the left back in behind young debutant Jeremy Ngakia. His low, inviting cross evaded both Origi and Salah and Liverpool’s wait for a goal went on.
It wasn’t long after, though, that the European Champions’ pressure told on the scoreboard. Tussling with Origi in the box, West Ham centre half Issa Diop recklessly upended the Belgian and the referee correctly pointed to the spot. Composed, Salah rifled the ball low past Fabianski for a deserved lead.
Origi won the spot kick, but Trent Alexander Arnold and Firmino deserve huge kudos for their roles in the build up.
The remainder of the half was played out in the same manner — with Liverpool authoritatively controlling proceedings — and the table toppers held their lead going into the interval.
West Ham started the second period better and a rare foray forward same Manuel Lanzini register a shot on target, although tamely and nothing that caused Alisson any strife.
Ironically, this piece of encouragement could have contributed to the Hammers conceding again.
A rare corner provided the hosts an opportunity to commit men forward, but when the set piece went awry Liverpool broke at pace.
Salah’s intricate pass released Oxlade Chamberlain in behind, whose powerful run saw him blast past the cover, and the Englishman coolly beat Łukasz Fabiański to double the Reds’ lead.
Some slack play from Wijnaldum allowed Robert Snodgrass a shot on goal but Alisson was equal to it and Liverpool’s clean sheet remained in tact.
Fabianski has been badly missed by West Ham this season and the Pole showed his value by thwarting both Firmino as the visitors upped the gears at will.
Liverpool’s dominance bread complacency and a poor touch from substitute Fabinho gave Declan Rice the chance to blast a shot at Alisson. The Brazilian saved well and from the rebound Alexander Arnold inexplicably volleyed against his own post before Jordan Henderson completed the clearance.
Both keepers were worked late on, with Fabianski denying replacement Keita and Rice’s header forcing a good save from Alisson. Salah, meanwhile, hit the outside of the post with a curled effort.
The remainder of the game was played out with the Reds recycling the ball, showing the dominance that sees them 19 points clear.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Origi.
Substitutions: Fabinho for Origi, Jones for Oxlade Chamberlain, Keita for Alexander Arnold.
Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Lovren, Minamino.