With the North London derby ending all square, Liverpool seized the opportunity to climb to 2nd place in the league table thanks to this win over a very decent in-form West Ham.
After the displays of grit and resilience since the start of the season, confidence was high in the Red camp and such result against the East London side was in truth, widely expected.
It was not quite the drama as at Newcastle nor the laboured turnaround at Wolves but rather Liverpool getting the job done with not much fuss despite a brief period of self-introspection after West Ham had equalized to 1-1 just before half-time.
Interesting fact: Liverpool have not conceded in the 2nd half this season. The 2nd half now looks to be when the Reds would fire on all cylinders be it to equalize or to turn around a deficit or to extend their lead, i.e. to be on their way to victory.
Jurgen Klopp’s fist pumps celebration after the final whistle itself revealed his satisfaction with the manner of winning this Sunday game. Lot’s of “good stuffs” after the interval he would say in the post-match presser.
Liverpool were in near total control during that 2nd half against the Hammers. If Klopp’s heavy metal football had previously allowed the players to overcome the opposition through a relentlessly intense style of play, it was quite different this time.
The Reds’ win had more to do with superior skills and technical ability while also keeping West Ham at bay during that second half.
At times, they even afforded to slow down the pace of the proceedings to almost pedestrian level. That can only help in terms of avoiding injuries.
One month ago, Bournemouth scored the first goal at Anfield and could also have gone 2-nil up inside 3 minutes.
West Ham could have caused the same scare in the first 10 minutes on Sunday were it not for another heroic diving save from Alisson Becker and some woeful finishing by Michail Antonio who did Klopp’s pre-match team talk by boldly claiming in midweek that his West Ham side will finish above Liverpool.
Wake up call
Those close calls again served to wake up the Reds and they duly opened the score on the 16th minute with a powerful taken penalty right down the middle by Mo Salah.
Our Egyptian King created the spot kick himself when he was hacked down by Nayef Aguerd at the end of a counter-attacking move which also involved Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez.
The tone was now set as Liverpool kept pushing forward for the remainder of the 1st half.
Another counterattack on the 38th saw Diaz receiving the ball from Dominik Szoboszlai before pivoting a pass to Salah whose left-footed shot unfortunately flew just wide.
However, against the run of play, West Ham equalized just before half-time by none other than Jarrod Bowen who was rumoured to be a potential target to replace the Egyptian King if Mo had decided to move to Saudi Arabia.
The English right winger pounced with a diving header from a Vladimir Coufal low cross in what was a well-crafted teamwork by the Londoners. The low flight path of the ball actually made it very tricky for Virgil Van Dijk’s attempt to get to it.
Just wondering if Bowen’s goal has now put him more firmly on the radar of Liverpool’s recruitment team.
Notwithstanding, drawing from a good dose of experience in resilience, the Reds were undeterred and could have restored the lead in the sprinkle of minutes left before the half-time whistle.
In fact, Scouser Curtis Jones did volley the ball to the back of the net from a sublime Szoboszlai delivery but he was narrowly offside. Quite a shame.
Nunez should have scored with a fiercely goal-bound shot from a Salah cross down the right, only for keeper Alphonse Areola to make a good save which Newcastle’s Nick Pope probably wished he had made 4 weeks ago.
On the other side of the interval, the Uruguayan should have again scored. Fed by Salah, his shot from the penalty spot rocketed just wide.
For his part, Bowen was at another attempt on the 55th with an unmarked header from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick. But this time, Ali collected be ball quite comfortably.
Apart from this brief Bowen scare, it was time for Liverpool to switch gear and seal this game once and for all.
Bookmark this goal
And oh boy, they got it going in a really awesome manner.
On the 59th, Alexis Mac Allister lofted an over-the-top floating ball to bypass West Ham’s double lines of defence. Nunez perfectly timed his run to get to it on the other side of the defensive wall and then lobbed Areola at the first time asking from 7 yards out.
A difficult to execute but sumptuous goal fit for The Kop which the Uruguayan indulged with extensive celebrations at that end of the pitch.
Although the lead was again of only one goal, there was practically no doubt as to the outcome of this match from now on.
Liverpool dictated the pace as they willed with very patient build-ups while attempts from the Hammers were inexistent for the rest of the game.
The Merseysiders even had the luxury of bringing in quality subs in Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo on the 81st and the Portuguese took only 4 minutes to extend the lead.
A corner taken by Andy Roberston was met by a Virgil Van Dijk header who laid it down for Jota the Slotter to sweep in with his right foot.
Three goals from three Liverpool forwards assisted by a midfielder and a defender. A reflection of a complete team performance.
In defence, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez were imperious. The Cameroonian had Michail Antonio in his back pocket where the Hammers forward could leisurely reflect on what he would drivel in his next podcast.
Dominik Szoboszlai was equal to himself, still running around with full energy by the final whistle. Has the Energizer Bunny contacted him to be its sidekick in a future commercial?
But the defining moment of the game was undoubtedly the opportunity that no one could see except Mac Allister. Such visionary pass out of nothing is by itself worthy to qualify Nunez’s goal for a strong contender of goal of the season.
After we had recently brought back the term Mentality Monsters, time to do the same for another expression: Poetry in Motion indeed.