This was a game that saw Jürgen Klopp rotate accordingly, with Arsenal set to visit Anfield on Saturday evening. Despite some thoughts that the Reds’ German manager would select a full quota of reserves, he instead showed a desire to march on to the semi-final of the EFL Cup, as the starting team proved to be a potent plethora of attacking assets.
The Starting Eleven
Virgil van Dijk (c)
Trent Alexander Arnold – Dominik Szoboszlai (60 mins)
Mohamed Salah – Wataru Endō (60 mins)
Ibrahima Konaté – Virgil van Dijk (Time TBD)
Conor Bradley – Kostas Tsimikas (69 mins)
Luis Díaz – Cody Gakpo (78 mins)
Liverpool 1 – 0 West Ham
Dominik Szoboszlai (Jarell Quansah) 28 mins
Liverpool 2 – 0 West Ham
Curtis Jones (Darwin Núñez) 56 mins
Liverpool 3 – 0 West Ham
Cody Gakpo (Ibrahima Konaté) 71 mins
Liverpool 3 – 1 West Ham
Jarrod Bowen (Ben Johnson) 77 mins
Liverpool 4 – 1 West Ham
Mohamed Salah (Trent Alexander Arnold) 82 mins
Liverpool 5 – 1 West Ham
Curtis Jones (Trent Alexander Arnold) 82 mins
Important Match Stats
Possession: Liverpool 67% – 33% West Ham
Total Shots: Liverpool 24 – 2 West Ham
Corner Kicks: Liverpool 12 – 2 West Ham
The First Half
The opening period of this game saw the home side start with ruthless aggression and a desperate desire to overwhelm their quarterfinal opponents. It was instantly apparent that the hybrid initiative was to be abandoned for this last eight tie, allowing Joe Gomez to operate more effectively as an orthodox fullback. By reintroducing a 4-3-3 system of play, the Anfield side were ferocious in their work and pressed like the well-oiled machine of old. Without the need to shift the backline and central area to accommodate an up-stepping hybrid, all the midfield parts were able to undertake their duties without confusion or hesitation. The opening goal came after a continuous assault on the Hammers’ rearguard, resulting in Dominik Szoboszlai being able to find a yard of space, before firing an unstoppable shot across the keeper. The first half should have ended in an unassailable lead, yet despite brilliant play from Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, and the Hungarian number eight, David Moyes and his merry men managed to ride their luck until the interval.
🇭🇺 Dominik Szoboszlai was able to play a lot higher up the pitch tonight and was unsurprisingly back to his best.
– Scored a sublime goal.
– Created the most chances (4) while he was on the pitch.
– Made the second most recoveries (8).
An all-round solid performance. pic.twitter.com/TGtZpSYD5O
— Bence Bocsák (@BenBocsak) December 20, 2023
The Second Half
On resumption of the second half, the unequalled efforts of the men in red continued to strangle the game away from the 2022/23 Conference League champions. Curtis Jones was next up on the scoresheet, as his driving run and clever finish took the score to 2-0. It took just fifteen more minutes for the scores to adjust to 3-0, thereby ending the game as a contest. Cody Gakpo was the recipient of a powerful and superb half-pitch run from Ibou, before clinically striking the ball beyond the ineffective Alphonse Areola. Despite not letting up at any point, a well-worked move and eventual goal by Jarrod Bowen, gave the travelling support something to cheer, in a rare moment where Jarell Quansah was caught slightly out of position. The brilliance in the England forward’s strike left Caoimhin Kelleher with no chance of securing a clean sheet. That consolation goal seemed to further antagonize the home team, as the very well-timed substitutions were able to maintain the intensity levels that had been achieved throughout. Further goals by Mohamed Salah and Curtis Jones made the result more reflective of the game state, as the breakaway goal by the Egyptian king and sublimely executed finish by man of the match, Curtis Jones, rubber-stamped their team’s progress into the semifinals.
A sensational and utterly one-sided game ended with a 5-1 scoreline, which put the Merseyside team into the semifinal draw, later confirmed as Fulham in a two-legged tie. Chelsea and Middlesbrough make up the full semifinal schedule.
This was a result that was much needed, however, the performance of the team is what was required most. Curtis Jones once again proved why his vast array of skills is very much what is needed within this evolving setup. Liverpool 2.0 was struggling to find its new identity in the games leading to West Ham, therefore, this type of spectacle will surely aid in moulding what is to come. Ultimately, every Liverpool player on the pitch excelled to the levels that the fanbase dreams of, as the interplay and fluidity made a very solid West Ham team look very poor. The quality and general depth of the Anfield squad have never been in doubt; it was merely a case of aligning the tactics to suit all members of the group. A 4-3-3 system must now be retained, even if it means Trent must stay that bit wider in transition. Curtis Jones must now be the most vital cog in the middle ground engine room, as his midfield teammates all benefited from the elite-level contributions of the man of the match. Darwin Núñez may just work that bit better from a wider position, whereas the entire back four looked about as dependable as you could hope for.
— AnfieldIndex (@AnfieldIndex) December 21, 2023
This was a brilliant team performance that saw Curtis Jones enjoy his most impressive game. The Manchester United hangover is well and truly behind the 2nd placed team, as Arsenal arrives for their titanic clash on Saturday evening. A win against the top of the table gunners will send Liverpool top of the tree for Christmas, I just hope this win against the East Enders is an arriving sign of what is to come.
Liverpool 3 – 2 West Ham