We were treated to an attacking masterclass by Liverpool on a dreary Sunday afternoon at Anfield, as Liverpool breezed past West Ham with a 4-0 victory to fully ignite the excitement of the supporters watching on.
Expectations were high among both camps, with some new faces looking to display their talent at their new clubs, including Liverpool’s two blockbuster signings of Alisson between the posts, and Naby Keita in midfield, as well as West Ham’s record signing Felipe Anderson. Lukasz Fabianski also started while former West Ham keeper Joe Hart was in action for Burnley down on the south coast. In fact, West Ham had four new faces on display in the starting XI, with two others on the bench.
The match began in a fashion that most expected. Liverpool dominated the possession and attacking threat and West Ham seemed to be playing the offside trap – a very bold decision against the pace of Liverpool’s front three. Alexander-Arnold was sending in some dangerous early crosses, with England head coach Gareth Southgate watching on.
In the 18th minute, Liverpool began to create some golden chances. James Milner, who was sporting a trendy black headband due to a clash of heads in pre-season match, sent a vicious cross right into the six-yard box, but none of Liverpool’s magical front three could get the vital touch.
Moments later, Naby Keita was confidently prancing through the midfield while left-back Andrew Robertson was bursting into masses of space down the left wing. The crowd inside Anfield made the Guinean aware of Robertson’s run and the pass was made. A pinpoint cross from the Scot meant that who else but Mo Salah had a tap-in to make it 1-0.
The match continued in a similar manner, with the Reds showing increased ferocity down the flanks. West Ham were given absolutely no time on the ball, and Liverpool’s defence was looking a lot more solid than it has done in past seasons.
A 24th minute free kick gave Alexander-Arnold a chance to show what his left foot could do. A nicely taken attempt looked to be going into the top corner but for a smart save by Fabianski who saw the shot coming.
A couple of glimpses of a goal came West Ham’s way during the first half, with Arnautovic the one presented with the opportunities. At one point the referee Anthony Taylor made a decent tackle on Wijnaldum and the ball was sent towards Arnautovic in the penalty area. However, the Austrian was unable to finish what was a pretty good chance, much to the relief of the referee.
Seconds before the half time whistle was about to be blown, a cross found James Milner in acres of space at the back post, who’s only thought was to square to Mané, and Liverpool sent the Hammers into the tunnel with a 2-0 deficit.
Naby Keita was one of the standout players of the first half, whose technical ability on the ball was balanced by his ability to spot a key pass. Allisson on the other hand barely had an opportunity to show his worth in Liverpool’s goal.
West Ham made a change at half time – Snodgrass on for Declan Rice. Within the first five minutes of the second half, Snodgrass’ corner was flicked on by Felipe Anderson, but Antonio couldn’t loop the ball into the net at the back post.
In the 53rd minute, the game was put to bed with a fortuitous second goal from Sadio Mané. Firminho poked the ball through to Mané and Salah, who were both standing in an offside position. The flag stayed down however, and the Senegalese international drilled the ball home to finish the job off.
A 64th-minute free kick on the left just about favoured a shot from James Milner, who fired straight into Jack Wilshere’s most vulnerable body parts. Seconds later Mark Noble received the same treatment from close range. With two white shirts on the ground, a sympathetic Anthony Taylor stopped play, with the Liverpool fans around the ground not sharing that same compassion.
The match gradually edged towards full time, with some notable debutants entering the pitch – Andriy Yarmolenko for West Ham and Xherdan Shaqiri for Liverpool.
Daniel Sturridge, who spent last season on loan at West Brom, came on as Liverpool’s final substitution in the 87th minute. Quite unbelievably, the Englishman scored with his first touch from the corner that allowed him to make his return to Anfield.
4-0 was the final score in a game dominated by the team in red, meaning that Liverpool have now put four goals past the Hammers in their last four meetings. The thrashing also sent the Reds to the top of the table above Chelsea, who beat Huddersfield 3-0 on Saturday afternoon.
A complete performance by Liverpool will satisfy Jurgen Klopp greatly and, based on this result alone, the future looks very bright for the team. However, Liverpool were known for some results like this last season, but inconsistent performances meant that they were only able to finish fourth in the league. Can they keep the momentum going and produce these performances week in week out? Crystal Palace is their next challenge, who will host Liverpool next Monday night.
As for West Ham, there was absolutely nothing to cheer about on their first Premier League game of the season. Manuel Pellegrini has brought a lot of new faces to East London, but more work with the squad will be needed before their next match against Bournemouth next Saturday.