Liverpool 4 – 0 West Ham

Perfect Start for Ambitious Reds

Liverpool fans knew a good start would be crucial to pushing on this season, and the players delivered on a dream first day of the campaign.

Mo Salah inevitably opened the scoring after a combative opening passage. Sadio Mane made it 2-0 just before the half-time whistle, and then doubled his tally in the second-half from a blatantly offside position. Daniel Sturridge wrapped up the rout with a goal from his first touch after coming off the bench.

West Ham put up a good fight though and the score doesn’t reflect how much more organised they were than in the past; however, ultimately they were outclassed in all aspects of the game.

Player Ratings

Alisson – 6.5:

Alisson was hardly involved on his debut, but he wouldn’t have minded only having to make two saves.

His ability with his feet was on show for the fans to see; however, he did under-hit one lobbed pass to Andy Robertson, thankfully the resulting chance led to nothing.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6.5:

Young Trent was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, and a shaky start had many wondering if Jurgen Klopp had thrown the lad back into the mix too early.

Despite over-hitting a few crosses, Trent grew into the game and showed good vision. His defending was largely faultless and he was the main cause of West Ham’s star man Felipe Anderson being hooked off after 62 minutes. TAA also almost scored a spectacular free kick but was denied by a wonderful save by Łukasz Fabiański.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

No one questions the world record fee that Liverpool spent to buy the Dutchman now. In every game his calm, composed, commanding defending is present.

VVD did an excellent job of organsing those around him, maintaining their concentration levels, and even chipping into the attack by bringing the ball out from the back in the absence of Fabinho.

Joe Gomez – 7:

This was always going to be one of only a few chances the young man would be guaranteed to show his qualities at centre-back before Dejan Lovren’s return, and he took his chance brilliantly.

One lapse in concentration against Marko Arnautovic almost cost the team, but this hiccup aside, he looked more than capable of developing into a long-term partner for VVD.

Andy Robertson – 7.5:

Robbo carried on his fine pre-season form by laying on yet another assist, this time to Salah for the opener.

The Scot caused the opposistion headaches for the full 90 minutes. His potency when overlapping also allowed Sadio Mane the freedom to move into a more central position, where he was able to score twice.

Gini Wijnaldum – 8:

Gini took over from Fabinho at the base of midfield for the game, and made things difficult for the Brazilian to return next week.

His use of the ball was exceptional and he was certainly in the top three performers on the day. The only thing missing was a goal as he sprayed a couple of half-chances wide.

James Milner – 8 (Man of the Match):

Milner didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon and was a constant thorn in the side of the Hammers.

Any doubts over Milner’s role for the season need to be reassessed, as the experienced Yorkshireman is showing no signs of slowing down yet.

Naby Keita – 8:

Keita almost never looks flustered, regardless of how many players are trying to close him down. 9 times out of 10, he glides past them and picks out the right option.

The Guinean gave the home fans mere glimpses of his potential and yet still produced a mesmerising debut.

Mo Salah – 6:

Despite scoring the crucial first goal, Salah was a step off the pace for most of the game and probably should’ve been substituted instead of Mane.

His passes were consistently coming half a second too late, but like Trent, this is merely a sign of rust which will undoubtedly be shaken off sooner rather than later.

Sadio Mane – 8:

Mane displayed his underrated finishing with both of his goals, despite the fact that his second was clearly offside.

His unpredictable movement was what hurt West Ham the most though, and this combined with the developing form of those around him could see this season as Mane’s best yet.

Bobby Firmino – 7:

Bobby is another who is yet to find top gear, but that was to be expected after such a grueling season followed by a long campaign with Brazil.

Regardless of this fact, he still worked hard for the team and created numerous chances for them.

Subs

Jordan Henderson – 6.5 (on for Firmino – 69′):

Hendo managed the game well when he came on, but it’s questionable what his role will be this season given the strength of Liverpool’s midfield.

Xherdan Shaqiri – N/A (on for Mane – 81′):

Unfortunately, Shaq was brought on too late to make an impact.

Daniel Sturridge – 10 (on for Keita – 89′):

Studge scored an uplifting goal after only being on the pitch for a few seconds. The return of his famous celebration brought broad smiles to the faces of all Reds.

Unused Subs: Loris Karius, Nathaniel Clyne, Fabinho and Adam Lallana

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp managed to bring out exactly the type of performance that he would’ve been looking for from his players.

His half-time talk saw the Reds come out even hungrier for the closing 45 minutes, although he should’ve looked to bring on Shaq with 30 minutes remaning, rather than Hendo.

Talking Points

Good Signs for the Future

Keita was the most notable debutant on the day, but even though we didn’t get to see the best of Shaq, Alisson or Fabinho, what was on show was phenomenal.

Once the front three are back to their best, Keita will be able to unlock their goal-scoring potential to an even higher degree than last season. Fabinho’s return will only aid this process as his stability will allow Keita to be more adventurous.

Shaq will undoubtedly be introduced into this equation as well at some point, which is a mouth-watering proposition given his pre-season form. Likewise, Alisson will be able to launch counter-attacks with his immense ability with his feet against teams who don’t defend as deep as West Ham.

A Need to Stay Grounded

Despite this optimism, it’s important to recognise that Liverpool are still several steps away from getting back to their best form of last season.

It could take weeks, if not months, for this process to complete, so in the mean time it’s crucial that we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves and just take things one game at a time.

Manchester City look to have not lost a step in their time-off, so the quicker everyone can settle back in, the better.

Big Test at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace looked extremely impressive as they defeated Fulham, despite the Cottagers being fancied to shake the league up on their return to top flight.

They sorted out their defensive frailties from the first half to produce a convincing 2-0 win where aerial dominance, and lighting fast counters reigned supreme.

A proper analysis of their threat will be done in the preview of next week’s game, but don’t be fooled, Palace are no pushovers.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 14/08/2018

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Liverpool vs West Ham – Preview

Exciting New Season Begins at Anfield

Football’s finally back. With the close of the transfer window, Liverpool fans have plenty to look forward to after the high-profile arrivals of Naby Keïta, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alisson Becker.

Last season ended in agony after defeat in the Champions League final and an unfortunately low, fourth-place finish in the league. This season however, optimism has given the fans an appetite for trophies.

It’s important to not get too far ahead of ourselves though, first up is the new-look Hammers, and West Ham fans too are eyeing the 2018/19 season with enthusiasm.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livham

Liverpool unfortunetly find themselves in the midst of a miniture injury crisis before a ball’s been kicked.

Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren are unlikely to be involved due to their extended foray in the World Cup. They’ll be joined on the sidelines by the injured Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip.

Joe Gomez is also carrying a knock but is tipped to play, unlike Fabinho who could see his debut delayed due to a muscle strain. Daniel Sturridge and Shaqiri could feature as well though, but it is more likely that they will come off the bench when needed for now.

West Ham

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livhamham.jpg

West Ham have made what feels like a dozen new signings, and quite a few of them should make their debuts at Anfield.

The front three and midfield more or less picks itself while the newer signings are bedded in, although it’s possible that Javier Hernandez and Pedro Obiang could force themselves into the lineup.

The only surprise should be whether Aaron Cresswell and Fabian Balbuena start ahead of Arthur Masuaku and Issa Diop.

Pre-Game Analysis

It is crucial that Liverpool start the season with a bang in order to put early pressure on Manchester City; anything less than three points at home against a new West Ham side must be seen as a failure.

West Ham’s danger man will undoubtedly be Marko Arnautovic, but if the Reds can shut him down, then West Ham’s chances of scoring will fade dramatically.

While everyone gets back up to speed and on board with Klopp’s style, a larger share of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of our front three to help the team over the line for the first run of games. The likes of Cresswell and Balbuena may badly struggle to contain the threat they possess though.

Prediction

It could be a nervy day for a few players on both sides, and an early goal for the home team could help settle those nerves in our favor.

It’s a tricky game to predict given how interrupted our pre-season has been and how little we know about this West Ham side, but the expectation has to be to win.

West Ham fans feel that this is the best possible time to play Liverpool, and they may not be wrong, but I’m predicting an emphatic 3-0 win on the opening day for the Reds. A good start to what will hopefully be a great season.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 12/08/2018

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Liverpool 4 – 1 West Ham

The Goals Keep Coming for Liverpool

The Reds, at least temporarily, moved into 2nd place after a repeat of the result from the Olympic Stadium earlier in the season. The Hammers had a couple of chances in the first half, including a chip from Marko Arnautovic which was tipped onto the crossbar. However, it was a different Liverpool that turned out for the second half, dominating their opponents and punishing them regularly. On another day Liverpool could’ve scored 7 or 8, but every Reds fan will be pleased to see this excellent run of results continue.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 7: Was only seriously tested on three occasions on a quiet afternoon for the stopper. He brilliantly denied Arnautovic twice in the first half, but couldn’t do anything to stop Michail Antonio.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8: This kid is special. Another mature performance from a player whose mental and technical abilities are incredible for a lad of his age. TAA’s crossing was a particular highlight in a game where his all-around talent shone through.

Joel Matip – 6: Similar to previous games, Matip again failed to justify his place ahead of Dejan Lovren. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes beyond gifting Arnautovic an early chance, but he still doesn’t play with confidence.

Virgil Van Dijk – 7: VVD also gifted West Ham a chance or two, but made up for it with the other 99% of his actions. He was largely untested for the majority of the game, but was again a strong presence at the back.

Andrew Robertson – 9: The bargain signing of the season. Like TAA, it’s easy to forget how young Robertson is. It’s a joy to watch him as he plays with his heart on his sleeve and fights for every pass, tackle and cross.

Emre Can – 7: Despite getting a goal and an assist, Can had a fairly quiet game. Considering the way the rest of the team were able to dominate West Ham, it was a surprise to see Can not getting more involved.

James Milner – 8: Milly has become an indispensable part of this squad. His leadership is invaluable, but it’s not his sole contribution, as his passing recently has been phenomenal. Should’ve had an assist when he played a perfectly weighted through ball to Firmino but the Brazilian failed to convert.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8: The Ox was one player who turned it up in the second half. He grabbed two assists and almost scored himself as he ran riot over West Ham’s defence. It was a surprise to see him start, but he’s given Klopp something to think about after that performance.

Mo Salah – 8: Salah is now level with Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot, and he is still not showing any signs of slowing down. He was unfortunate to hit the post in the first half and he then headed over moments later. In typical Salah fashion though, the chances kept coming, and he inevitably found the back of the net.

Sadio Mane – 7: Couldn’t quite carry over his Champions League form into this game, but he was still a constant threat with his movement. He missed a couple of big chances but was duly rewarded with a goal eventually.

Roberto Firmino – 9 (Man of the Match): He’s simply brilliant. Firmino was at the heart of every attack and again showed his brilliance. A cheeky nutmeg was followed by an outrageous no-look shot as he added another goal to his tally.

Subs

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Firmino – 82′): No time to make a difference.

Alberto Moreno – N/A (on for Mane – 86′): No time to make a difference.

Dominic Solanke – N/A (on for Salah – 86′): No time to make a difference.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8: Klopp had plenty of time to prepare for this fixture, so there could be no excuses if Liverpool walked away with anything less than 3 points. Thankfully the team were sharp and the tactics employed paid off spectacularly. A running theme with Klopp, the only criticism is that he again didn’t give his subs enough game time after the match had already been won in the 77th minute.

Talking Points

Goals Galore

A good habit Liverpool are falling into is scoring in every game, usually more than once. The other encouraging sign is that despite the front three, and especially Salah, dominating the headlines, it’s not just them who are scoring. The defenders and midfielders are chipping in with goals and assists as well showing tremendous all-around attacking potency throughout the team.

Best XI

It’s arguable that Klopp has now more or less found his current best XI. The only real questions are whether the Ox or Gini WIjnaldum should start in midfield, and who should partner VVD at centre back between Lovren and Matip. The core of the team is well and truly established and have been consistently putting in impressive attacking and defensive displays.

Another Week Off

Liverpool have a week to prepare for the next game at home against Newcastle. Rafa Benitez’s side will look to steal a result as they did against Manchester United, so Klopp will need his players to repeat yesterday’s efforts. The upcoming game against United may appear more important, but it is vital that Liverpool are in a position to secure 2nd place by not dropping points against Newcastle.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 25/02/2018

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Liverpool vs West Ham – Preview

Football is Back as The Reds Take On The Hammers

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livwest

Jurgen Klopp will almost certainly retain the majority of the players who starred against Porto in the Champions League. The only exception to this will be Emre Can who previously missed out due to suspension; he could replace Jordan Henderson as the holding midfielder. Other players who could spring a surprise include the returning Alberto Moreno and Trent Gomez, as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip who could also be handed starting roles.

 

West Ham

Team News and Predicted Lineup

west

West Ham’s team selection will not be nearly as straightforward thanks to a number of injuries and a suspension to Artur Masuaku. Edmilison Fernandes, Pedro Obiang and Andy Carroll are not expected to be fit in time, but Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid will be assessed before the game to see if they will be ready to play. Michel Antonio has been covering at left wing-back, but if Reid returns then Aaron Cresswell will likely take Antonio’s place. If Lanzini is fit to start, David Moyes will have plenty of options both with his formation and players, given the fact that Lanzini can play behind the striker or in a deeper role.

 

Analysis

Both sides have had a relatively long time to prepare for this match as neither squad had midweek cup games to play. Klopp used this time to take his players to Spain for another one of his ‘mini pre-seasons’ in preparation for the road ahead. This should mean that the players will be well rested and well drilled in order to break down what will undoubtedly be a stubborn and deep West Ham defence-line. The key for Liverpool will be to try and exploit West Ham’s lack of pace down their right-hand side and turn Pablo Zabaleta and James Collins as often as possible. Barring a moment of magic, a set piece goal, or a long-range strike, Liverpool may find their chances few and far between unless they can get a quick goal and force West Ham to open up.

Moyes has likewise had plenty of time to prepare his side for the challenge of going to Anfield and getting a result. He will certainly have focused his attention on Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah and plotted to halt their impressive form. West Ham will have to allow Liverpool plenty of possession and try to hit them hard with the in-form Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez on the counter. If they concede a goal before Liverpool are ready to see the game out, then they could be lured into another thrashing as they were at the Olympic Stadium.

Prediction

Liverpool have worked hard this season to improve their results against sides who sit deep and invite pressure. Sometimes it has worked, and sometimes it hasn’t. However, The Reds have shown far greater consistency in this aspect recently and their current form along with being back at home should be enough to see them over the line. It’s entirely possible that West Ham could frustrate Liverpool as the likes of Swansea have done, but it’s also possible that Liverpool will steamroll the Hammers again. For this match I’m predicting a similar game to the recent one against Southampton and Liverpool will stroll to a comfortable and important 2-0 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 23/02/2018.

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