Match Review: West Ham 2-2 Liverpool

LFC Toronto Fans Meet at pub to watch match
  • Celebrating Klopp's last games as a Red at LFC Toronto Pub

Match Review: West Ham 2-2 Liverpool

Shots flying just wide / just above or crashing against the woodwork or the opposing keeper making superhuman saves. Does it feel like Groundhog Day?

It is quite telling that the only Liverpool player who was able to put his name on the scoreboard on Saturday at West Ham was our left back. Andy Roberston equalised to 1-1 just after the break, showing how it should be done some could wryly say.

Despite 3 West Ham players on his way (4 if you count the diving keeper Alphonse Areola), the Scotland captain managed to squeeze the ball past all of them after having been the fulcrum of a move that ended in a goal out of seemingly nothing.

On the other hand, we still cannot put our finger on why our more forward players have collectively been deficient in the luck of the green for 6 weeks now.

Does the surreal scene between Mo Salah and Jurgen Klopp just before the Egyptian was introduced on the 79th minute, suggest there is no smoke without fire in the strikers’ department?

We are not privy of what caused the spat (some would readily suggest Mo did not appreciate he was not in the starting line up) nor of what is happening or not happening in the dressing room.

But what we can wish for is, if needed, this particular matter should be dealt with in the Liverpool Way, in private behind closed doors.

It would be very, very sad if things were to publicly escalate between the two men who most defined the glorious era which is about to transition. Two men whose Anfield legacies are more than assured to echo in eternity with their names having been the most frequently sung by the Kop during this particularly memorable chapter in the club’s storied history.

Slot for Klopp

At the end of a week which saw the emergence of Feyenoord manager Arne Slot as Klopp’s likely successor, a serene handover should be a topmost objective.

In our Aston Villa match review back in September, we cheekily observed that Liverpool were building their own version of Dutch Total Football with the signature of midfielder Ryan Gravenberch adding to defender Virgil Van Dijk and striker Cody Gakpo.

Of course, we could not predict back then that the club would take it one step even further with a Dutch manager for next season.

Perhaps to impress their forthcoming fellow countryman, Gakpo and Gravenberch were particularly on song at West Ham. They were prominently involved in Liverpool going forward, crafting chances and taking them as well.

Unfortunately, most of them went beckoning, further extending that pesky trend of a lack of more clinical finishing.

Also perduring on Saturday: Liverpool’s bad habit of conceding first and their inability to keep a clean sheet.

It came towards the end of the first half during which the Reds had created more than enough chances to lead comfortably but which again failed to crystalize.

A quickly taken corner whose genesis was our defence losing possession rather cheaply, saw Jarrod Bowen rising highest for a glancing header towards the bottom corner of Alisson Becker’s net.

A few weeks ago, if a similar situation of falling behind invoked the possibility of the Mentality Monsters turning it around, now it has become more of a feeling of whether Liverpool have been running out of luck. Besides, Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliot struck the woodwork during this game.

Even more so considering the way Liverpool played during the second half, relentlessly going at the Hammers. We ended up with more than 70% of possession and 28 attempts on goal. The Reds should have sealed it was it not for that head scratching lack of clinical finishing.

In particular, Diaz incessantly drove forward. In the absence of fellow South American Darwin Nunez, the Colombian looked to have taken up the mantle of Captain Chaos, each time putting the West Ham defence on their toes. After all, he assisted Robbo for the equalizer.

Lucho carried on from where he left off in the midweek Merseyside Derby during which he was a rare bright light in an unrecognizable Reds team.

Making our own luck

It is said that you are responsible for creating your own good fortune and Liverpool’s persistence during that second half paid off with a second goal on the 65th minute.

From a corner, Gakpo’s shot incredulously pinballed on Angelo Ogbonna, Thomas Soucek and Areola before finally going inside.

In real time, no one really comprehended what actually took place. But who cares, Liverpool needed that big stroke of luck after all those weeks.

However, despite the Reds being in near total control of the second half, they again fell short of putting the game to bed and paid dearly for that on the 77th during a rare West Ham foray forward.

Bowen crossed from the right and Michail Antonio rose between Jarell Quansah and Trent Alexander-Arnold to head in.

Another game which felt more like a defeat than one point shared. In the meanwhile, Arsenal and Man City extended their lead over us in the table, winning their respective matches on Sunday. Sadly, this is now a two-horse race.

It’s quite gobsmacking how the league has now slipped out of our hands. But in truth, a deserved champion contender should be able to better deal with 3 tricky away games in 8 days during this crucial home stretch.

With 3 games left and Champions League qualification all but mathematically secured, it is equally important to nonetheless keep going until the very end.

We don’t want Klopp to sign off on a shambolic series of results at the tail end of the season. After all those memorable moments he has given us over the years, he deserves more than that.

Mike Chung.