Liverpool 3 – 1 West Ham – The Postmortem
This was the first fixture back after the reds travelled to Austria, where they overcame an industrious LASK side (1-3), to secure a solid win in their opening Europa League group stage game. That match-up saw Jürgen Klopp make eleven changes from the team which overcame Wolves the weekend prior, therefore, it raised many questions over the starting line-up he would pick for the visit of West Ham. The Hammers arrived on Merseyside in buoyant mood, after a good start to their campaign. Some irrelevant podcast even had Michail Antonio announcing that his side were primed to leapfrog Liverpool in the table, only to produce a very limited striking performance on the day.
Here is the team that our German manager opted for, as he welcomed David Moyes back to Anfield.
The Starting Eleven
Virgil van Dijk (c)
Alexis Mac Allister
Ryan Gravenberch – Curtis Jones (77 mins)
Diogo Jota – Luis Díaz (81 mins)
Cody Gakpo – Darwin Núñez (81 mins)
Wataru Endō – Alexis Mac Allister (88 mins)
Liverpool 1 – 0 West Ham
Mohamed Salah (Penalty) 16 mins
Liverpool 1 – 1 West Ham
Jarrod Bowen (Vladimír Coufal) 42 mins
Liverpool 2 – 1 West Ham
Darwin Núñez (Alexis Mac Allister) 60 mins
Liverpool 3 – 1 West Ham
Diogo Jota (Virgil van Dijk) 85 mins
Liverpool move to the second place after a hard-fought win over West Ham 🥊 pic.twitter.com/GKO9Uj5O4n
— 433 (@433) September 24, 2023
The First Half
This opening period of our games continues to be a worrying issue, as West Ham showed the better endeavour of the two sides in the initial exchanges. There was no lunchtime kick-off or international break to begrudge, whereas both teams had spent their Thursday evenings competing in a second-tier European tie. No, Liverpool merely started sluggishly and if not for another world class save by Alisson Becker, then Jarrod Bowen would have had the visitors 1-0 early on. Bowen’s well-placed header deserved a goal, yet in an outrageous show of instinctive keeping, our Brazilian number one somehow got down to swipe the goal bound effort away. Much of David Moyes’ premeditated attacks came from crosses delivered into the box, which at least allowed our stopper to set himself accordingly and emit safe handling and positioning throughout. It would eventually be the constant movement of Darwin that allowed the initial goal to come about, as he flicked a ball into the path of our Egyptian King, who was able to add a deft touch and body adjustment, one which saw him immediately fouled. The penalty awarded was not in any doubt with VAR and our record-breaking striker unleashed an unstoppable blast into the back of the net. From this point onwards, the home side controlled much of the first half without offering too much venomous intent This period of not taking advantage came back to bite, as Bowen was able to angle a low cross in off the far post, as his diving header got the better of a slightly slow footed VVD. At the close of the first half the score was 1-1, with everything still to play for.
The Second Half
On resumption of the second half, the same starting line ups emerged that had finished the previous 45 minutes. Liverpool started with a renewed vigour and the Red-men seemed more controlled and coordinated in their attacks, as their chaotic number nine continued to cause alarm to the opposition defence. With a continuing solidity in Liverpool’s rearguard, domination of the ball ensued, due in part to the on-ball orchestration of Argentina World Cup winner, Alexis MacAllister. The energy infused pressing and off ball work of his midfield partners, Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones, meant he was able to inch forward and deliver a tremendous lifted through ball to his half turned Uruguayan teammate. After misfiring just a few minutes prior, this second attempt was dispatched by way of a brilliant half volley. With 60 minutes gone, the confident manner of Klopp’s men was clear. It would be the continued effective use of his substitutes that saw the third goal end the contest. A ball into the box was nodded on by our giant captain, before it was dispatched by the club’s premier poacher, Diogo Jota. With this final nail in the match day coffin, the game petered out as Liverpool emerged with a deserved three points.
✅ Aston Villa
✅ West Ham
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool 2.0 is the absolute business 🤯 pic.twitter.com/yuTzBUQfBS
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) September 24, 2023
What Are My Final Thoughts…?
For almost the entirety of this game, Liverpool were the superior footballing side that controlled the varying stages of the game. This incarnation of 2.0 will always give up chances to well organised opponents, yet slowly Klopp’s players seemed to be able to restrict and pin down an adversary that so often be a torrid challenge for other good sides. The slow start is still a concern; however, the equalising entity of the world’s greatest keeper makes that an easier burden to bear.
No single player had a bad game this weekend and we seem to be inching towards naming the preferred starting eleven. Once Trent Alexander Arnold and Ibrahima Konaté return, I believe that dream team will be set and unleashed on the Premier League, perhaps next Saturday away to Spurs.
The most important thing to digest, is that no one player is being carried by the team this season. If assets are struggling or have done their jobs for the day, there seems to be little hesitation from the manager to ring the changes. The squad rotation is fitting in nicely between the primary league campaign and secondary cup competitions, which means the entire group is getting important game time.
Another notable mention is that our team leader and captain, Virgil van Dijk, is quietly reaffirming his position as the game’s best central defender and that could be vital to any glory his team achieves this season.
Virgil vs West Ham
2 chances created
4 passes into final third
95% pass accuracy
2/2 ground duels won
11/13 Aerial duels won (!)
Captains performance©️ pic.twitter.com/BeCNISoU3Q
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) September 24, 2023