Five takeaways as Liverpool beat West Ham United
Liverpool took a step closer to their journey to the English Premier League title with a late win against West Ham United at Anfield.
The Reds took an early lead through Gini Wijnaldum only for Issa Diop to equalize at the other end. Pablo Fornals came off the bench to give the Hammers a shock lead as the Reds stared at a first league defeat in over a year.
Jurgen Klopp’s team are famed for their resilience and they showed it again here. Powered by a defiant Anfield and a game-changing substitution by the manager, the Reds rallied to complete a comeback.
Mohamed Salah equalized through an error from Lukasz Fabianski before Sadio Mane scored the winner with nine minutes to go. Liverpool now need just 12 more points to secure the title.
We take a look at five takeaways from this show of resilience at Anfield.
1. Anfield Believes
Jurgen Klopp has turned Anfield into a fortress and it was on show yesterday. The stadium was at times flat as the Reds were unduly troubled by a plucky Hammers side. However, the stadium exploded following West Ham taking the lead.
The fans put up a defiant roar as they drove their team forward. The players duly delivered as they overturned the result and repaid the fan’s faith in them. The stadium has a dogged belief that the team in Red can overcome any odds and the players, in turn, know that they can count on the fans when the chips are down.
Liverpool will invariably lose at home at some point in the future, but you can bet that the team who beat them will have earnt it.
2. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a gamechanger
With Jordan Henderson out injured, Naby Keita was drafted into the first team. The Guinean started off promisingly but seemed to slow down as the game went on. Klopp decided to bring on Oxlade- Chamberlain in the second half and the move immediately changed the flow of the game.
The midfielder brought dynamism and zeal into the midfield as he drove at the West Ham defence. The whole team seemed to rally around him as they launched wave after wave of attack on Fabianski’s goal.
The 26-year-old had in a recent interview quoted that he feels he can improve on what has already been his best season on Merseyside. He also mentioned looking up to Henderson’s attitude of leading from the front. Looking on from the stands the Liverpool skipper would have been proud of his compatriot’s game-changing cameo.
3. Alisson is the best keeper in the world
The Brazilian number one admittedly could have done better to keep out Issa Diop’s opener. However, rather than a criticism, it’s more of having to find a fault in what has been an impressive season for the keeper.
He was always available to sweep up behind the back four and looked assured for the majority of the game. He saved from Antonio and used his passing range to start a number of Liverpool counter-attacks.
However, the shot-stopper saved his best for last as he showed the incredible bottle to race off his line and deny Jarrod Bowen a late equalizer. If the likes of Sadio Mane ensure the Reds turn draws into wins, it’s Alisson who ensured that the team does not let the lead slip.
4. An air of inevitability
It was by no means a vintage Liverpool performance. West Ham put up a fight and did have the beating of Klopp’s side at times. The Reds to their credit did not let their heads drop. They instead attacked with renewed vigour with a defiant Anfield backing them up.
At no point did this Liverpool side panic. They remained calm and patiently went about overturning the deficit. There was a sense of inevitability as the Reds kept plucking away at the West Ham goal and this only comes when an absolute belief in their ability.
Klopp’s team will not have it easy all the time, but there is a belief now that they will not go down without a fight.
5. Jordan Henderson was missed
The Liverpool skipper has been ruled out for three weeks due to an injury. His absence in the midfield was clearly visible as the Reds failed to get a proper foothold in the middle of the park.
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The 29-year-old is someone who divides the fanbase, but his importance in Klopp’s system cannot be doubted. His ability to rotate possession and link the defence to the attack is often underrated to the unglamorous nature of the job. Sometimes you only notice things when they are gone and against West Ham, it showed.