It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion from Saturday’s Anfield Premier League clash between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and David Moyes’ West Ham United, as the visitors lost their three-game unbeaten run at the historic stadium.
“Fab Three” Punish Hammers On Merseyside
From the start on Merseyside on the sunny afternoon, it was always clear which trio of attackers were going to pose the biggest threat to the West Ham goal and this was exactly how things panned out.
The so-called “Fabulous Three” of Egyptian top-scorer Mo Salah, pacey Senegalese Sadio Mane and Brazilian International Roberto Firmino were all on target as the Hammers slipped to only their third 2018 defeat in all competitions.
And the trio would have probably all felt that they could have managed more than that against a back five with a combined age of 140, as it was mostly easy pickings for them all afternoon.
This was seen right from the get-go in the affair, mere minutes were on the clock when Firmino picked out Salah to glide past James Collins and fire an effort at goal, only the faintest of Adrian San-Miguel fingertips pushing it onto the post and away to safety.
However, the Egypt man would finally get his strike on 52 minutes, doubling his team’s advantage at a crucial time, his 31st of the campaign and a new record of 21 left-footed goals.
The stumbling run of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked him out and he was able to avoid any kind of challenge from Aaron Cresswell to direct a low effort past Adrian and into the bottom corner.
Firmino was the next to net and if his teammate was forced to work hard for his goal, thanks to some more patchy defending from Moyes’ boys, the Brazilian was rather presented his.
Emre Can dispossessed Joao Mario easily in midfield to look up and slip Firmino clean-through on goal, rounding the onrushing Adrian and converting into an empty net with an audacious no-look finish.
Mane couldn’t believe that he hadn’t managed to cap off the scoring with just under 20 minutes remaining, spurning a glorious opportunity having been picked out by Oxlade-Chamberlain, hitting the post.
But, he also couldn’t be kept out for much longer, Andy Robertson this time finding him with a cross just yards from the goal-line to convert off the post and put the icing on the red cake.
The three’s combined goal tally is now a starting 66 goals in all competitions this season and they are set to play a pivotal role if their team are to clinch second spot.
The East Londoners are just the latest side to prove that the Reds’ attack are indeed too hot to handle when they’re on the top of their game and it will very much be back to the defensive drawing board for Moyes ahead of next weekend.
Irons Lamented For Conceding “Soft” First Goal
For all of the home side’s superiority in front of goal, there can be little doubting that their first of four could have been avoided from the perspective of the visiting team.
Many supporters and pundits alike branded it as “cheap” and “soft” while Moyes highlighted the self-destructing nature of his team’s performance as he returned to familiar Merseyside territory.
After the Irons had held out well inside the first 30 minutes, the hosts won a corner which was to be whipped in by Salah from the right flank into a dangerous area.
When it arrived mere yards from goal, Can got in between markers debutant Patrice Evra and form man Angelo Ogbonna to nod home simply into a partially empty goal.
There had been a source of controversy in the move, however, the reason Can’s finish was so simple was due to Adrian being rooted to the spot on the opposite side of the net, replace showing that James Milner was standing on his toes, thus impeding him, though Stuart Atwell was not interested.
The strike was pivotal in started off Liverpool’s goal rout and who knows how the match might have panned out if it hadn’t had been for the header, which brings us perfectly onto our next Talking Point.
Arnautovic Close-Calls Show How Different Things Could’ve Been
While West Ham were left to rue some of their defending during the entertaining encounter, they also grimaced over what might have been had they been a little more fortunate in the final third themselves.
Mainly in the first period, Moyes’ men proved a threat going forward on the counter-attack, despite Klopp’s side rather dominating the play in that period of the game.
When they did manage to attack, their only real outlet proved to be in form Marko Arnautovic, who ahead of kick-off, had made three and scored seven in his last nine PL outings, he would come agonisingly close to netting twice inside the first 45.
His initial effort, after a mere 15 minutes was the closest the visitors came aside from Michail Antonio’s second-half consolation, which we will touch on later.
Receiving a Mario flick-on deep in the opposition half, the club-record signing was running into space on the right and had nothing else on rather than a speculative shot at goal.
His effort was nothing short of outstanding, a powerful and accurate flick that, had it not been for a Loris Karius fingertip was heading for the top corner, instead striking the bar and away to safety.
No one inside Anfield could quite believe how the ball had stayed out and that would be the case once more in that half, this time just before half-time and after the hosts had taken the lead.
Arnautovic again found himself in an advanced position with little more on than a shot, his racy strike dipped and dived and required a world-class Karius save to deny it bulging the back of the net.
Arnautovic and the travelling supporters were left leaving Merseyside wandering just how differently things could have been, though alternatively, they will now have to quickly focus on another crucial away trip next Saturday afternoon.
Antonio Consolation Lonely Positive On Moore Anniversary
If there was one positive for the 3,000 strong travelling members of the Claret & Blue Army to take home with them on the 230-mile journey back to East London, it was surely a strike of brilliance from substitute Antonio.
Less than two minutes after he had entered the field in place of the returning Manuel Lanzini, with the home side three to the good, Antonio struck on trademark style.
Cheikhou Kouyate was able to steal the ball in midfield and play a delightful ball, though, getting the England International beyond the defenders and leading him with Karius to beat.
From a tricky angle and having left the defenders for dead with his speed, the attacker brought a deadly finish in the far corner to the table, only his second goal of the campaign.
As he wheeled away to celebrate with his fans, their t-shits were put on display, provided free of charge by the club, they had an image of the late great Hammers and England captain Bobby Moore on them.
Saturday marked 25 years since his sudden and tragic passing and was a day where the whole of the football world remembered him, West Ham will continue to do over the next couple of weeks.
The East Londoners’ third loss since the very state of December in all competitions leaves them looking over their shoulders at what is behind a little more than what is in front of them now.
Although they only fell one pace down to 13th, they are only above Huddersfield Town on goal difference and a mere three points in front of the bottom three.
There is little doubting that the run of fixtures that lay ahead for them will be vital in deciding their fate in the 2017/2018 season, but they must pick up points fast to avoid relapsing back into danger after a strong recovery from the dreaded drop zone in the next few weeks.
So, now that everything there was to discuss in the wake of an afternoon to forget in the North-West for the Hammers has been well and truly covered, will there be some more positive points to draw on come next Saturday evening? After Moyes’ boys have paid Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea City a visit at the Liberty Stadium in the league?