A fast-paced and quite superb performance from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool was enough to secure a 1-4 victory on Saturday evening to pile the pressure on an already stretched Slaven Bilic.
The visitors were emphatic from the off and took their opportunities exactly when they needed to, racing into a first-half lead with two goals in the space of three minutes from Mo Salah and Joel Matip.
In a resurgent second period showing from the hosts, Manuel Lanzini pulled one back but less than a minute later Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stunted the comeback and Salah put the game out of sight a little later.
An impressive away three points for Liverpool, in contrary to much of their form on the road this season, puts them in fifth place ahead of Arsenal, while our Hammers dramatically drop down into 18th, ensuring torrid times in East London.
From the start in Stratford, Slaven Bilic opted for just two changes from last Saturday’s agonising late draw at Selhurst Park, as he was without key man Michail Antonio and both of his right-backs.
However, we were boosted by the return of Winston Reid who came in for injured Jose Fonte and Pedro Obiang also made it back in the starting Xl to take the place of suspended Pablo Zabaleta.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp decided on three alterations from last weekend’s impressive home romp over Huddersfield Town, their last League clash, with the return of a certain Senegalese International.
James Milner, injured skipper Jordan Henderson and former England International striker Daniel Sturridge all made way, with Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the aforementioned returning Sadio Mane replacing them.
On a chilly winter’s night in East London, and after a fitting tribute that featured a monumental mosaic in The East stand to the fallen, the hosts would make a positive start to an exciting encounter.
This early pressure came to fruition in the opening stages with Andre Ayew being played in by Lanzini via a deflection, only to see his effort beat Skipper Simon Mignolet but cruelly strike the post.
Just minutes later, the away side had the ball in the back of the net, but it all started with a Lanzini corner that was headed away by the visiting defence into the path of Mane via Salah.
The Senegal man then proceeded to run the length of the pitch being joined by Roberto Firmino and his fellow African, who he eventually found to calmly slot past Joe Hart.
Things were about to get a hell of a lot worse for Bilic and his side as Salah delivered a corner from the left that took an unfortunate deflection off Skipper Mark Noble and fell into the path of Matip via Hart.
The Cameroonian was able to convert easily and quickly turn the home fans sour, the score would stay the same at half-time and Bilic needed a response early in the second period and he would get one very quickly indeed.
After just ten minutes to be precise as a floated ball from Ayew fell into the chest of Lanzini to control and finish superbly past Mignolet, but the lifeline wouldn’t be valid for very long at all.
From the Liverpool re-start, Klopp’s men managed to penetrate our back three with Oxlade-Chamberlain, making his first Premier League start for the Merseyside club, seeing effort saved by Hart.
However, the rebound fell perfectly for the England International to poke an effort back at his National teammate that found the roof of the net via his palm.
The game would calm down after that mad minute or two as the momentum gained from the early efforts of Bilic’s Boys dissolved.
There would be time for the away team to grab another goal and put the affair to sleep with 15 minutes to go, it would be that man Salah again who scored it.
This time, he was able to control majestically and strike home into the far corner from a Mane ball to send the travelling fans back to Liverpool with smiles on their faces.
But, the story couldn’t be more different for Bilic and the Claret & Blue Army, one would feel that he could have just taken a huge step towards losing his Job, if not, the trip to Vicarage Road after The International Break will be a must-win one.
There are no such present problems for Klopp and his in-form Reds side, after the third Break of the campaign, they will be back in Premier League action when hosting Southampton.