Liverpool produced yet another fruitful performance to beat West Ham United 4-1 on Saturday evening.
After disposing of NK Maribor 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, the Reds returned to Premier League duties in East London with the sole task of continuing a good run of form that has seen them score 10 goals in all competitions over the past week.
A fairly even start was followed by the game’s opening goal, coming from a quick counter-attacking move that saw the returning Sadio Mané sprint from one end of the field to the other, before playing in Mohamed Salah, who netted his sixth Premier League goal of the season.
It would take Liverpool just three minutes to double their lead, as defender Joel Matip took advantage of poor defending from a corner to tap in the game’s second.
West Ham grew desperate and threw men forward as a result and it would eventually yield them a goal via Manuel Lanzini, however, not even a minute later their opponents were back in charge thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first Liverpool goal.
And with fifteen minutes left on the clock, the three points were sealed by Salah, who drove in his second of the game and seventh of the Premier League season.
Here are five things we learned from a good evening for the travelling Kop.
Mo Salah, mo fire
He is simply one of the Premier League’s, and indeed Europe’s hottest talents at the moment and Mohamed Salah showed just why with his two goals against the Hammers, taking his tally up to twelve goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season.
That brace means that as things stand, Salah has scored as many goals as Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, with seven so far this campaign – an outstanding fact considering he is, after all, a winger.
The Egyptian put together a consistently dangerous performance at the London Stadium, proving a real nuisance for West Ham’s defence – Aaron Cresswell in particular – and was voted Man of the Match by impressed Liverpool fans after the game.
Continue this rich vein of form, and Salah will undoubtedly match and even better his tally of 19 goals in all competitions for Roma last season, highlighting yet again what a superb signing he’s been for the Reds.
A different kind of rotation policy
It’s already a well-known attribute of manager Jürgen Klopp’s side, however, has been in relatively short supply over the past few weeks with injuries taking their toll.
Thankfully, the return of Mané from injury to the starting line-up meant that Klopp could finally employ his dangerous attacking rotation policy, that sees the front-three of Mané, Firmino and Salah interchange their positions to devastating effect.
The trio did just that against West Ham, as over the course of the game the home side had their hands full with each one of the Reds’ stars freely roaming around advanced positions. Consider how tough it was for the Hammers’ back-line: one moment Firmino is central, then he’s on the left, Salah is on the right, then he’s central, Mané is on the left then surprise, surprise he’s playing on the right!
It is a positional mix-up that is as confusing for opponents as it is joyful for Klopp’s side and one would hope that each of the trio maintains their fitness to cause yet more danger after the international break.
Rusty return for Mané
As mentioned, he was a key danger-man for Liverpool at the London Stadium, providing two assists, but a brief assessment of Sadio Mané’s performance will reveal that for a player of his standards, that was rather below-par.
The Senegalese spent the first quarter-hour largely sidelined from play, as he saw very little of the ball and was closed down quickly whenever he did. The rest of the game saw him use his pace as a vital weapon to get in good positions, but besides his two assists for Salah’s goals, Mané’s end-product was mostly poor, with two shots at goal, in particular, going wayward.
It’s all very understandable, though, given that he has only just returned from injury, so Reds fans will hope he works hard to regain his sharpness over the international break and be the dangerous class act he truly his.
Defensive problems still bubble under
It seems harsh that even after such a decent performance yielded many positives, most observers can still find some faults in Liverpool’s display.
Either way, the faults were indeed there to be picked out and still need to be seriously addressed, as in the second-half period that Liverpool were 2-0 up, Klopp’s men looked their most vulnerable selves.
The home side were pushing hard to get back into the game and Liverpool’s defence were looking fazed with nearly every moment. The ball was easily given away numerous times and scoring opportunities were poorly dealt with.
West Ham were always going to push hard for some kind of salvation and it was Liverpool’s job to deny them of that, however, it can’t truly be said that the visitors achieved that – the Hammers were just far too poor in execution.
Allow the same to happen against a more clinical opponent and Klopp’s side may not have been let off so easily, therefore the age-old lesson of in-game management has to be learned.
Patience slowly becoming a virtue?
Even so, Klopp’s team deserves to be further commended for an unusual side of their game that has been evident over their past three games, in all competitions.
There seems to be an unmistakable quality of patience in Liverpool’s approach in these games.
Rewind to their 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town and add another 3-0 win over Maribor to your thoughts. Those two displays hold one thing in common: Liverpool didn’t have it all their own way, however, that didn’t seem to frustrate them much. The Reds simply remained patient, kept trying and eventually got their rewards in the second half of each Anfield clashes.
With two goals scored within the first half-hour of this game against a very poor West Ham, there was a threat that the Merseysiders could show that trigger-happy demeanor of theirs and turn a Premier League clash into a one-sided exhibition (perhaps another 7-0?) however, even when the chance presented itself, Liverpool’s response was a patient and disciplined one.
That is, they didn’t throw every man in orange forward the minute they could. Instead, they bid their time and took every chance as it came.
This excellent show of character certainly needs to be displayed a whole lot more this season.
It may frustrate fans who want to win the game in their first minute, though, it would certainly yield a more mature Liverpool side and plenty more wins.