Liverpool smiled away with a four-one victory over West Ham United at the London Olympic stadium.
This latest West Ham’s defeat increases the pressure on their under-fire coach Slaven Bilic, whose team is now deeply mired in the relegation zone of the table.
Slaven Bilic may have unwittingly compelled klopp to conceive the novel tactical approach he employed in this match. The Croatian had said in his pre-match conference that his team was going to exploit the gap that opens up in Liverpool’s defense when they play their high pressing game. However, Klopp set up his team to play in a way they have never done under his managerial reign.
Liverpool played a very discipline, balanced and co-ordinated game in this the match . The Reds refrained from playing their high octane game that often involved their back four joining the high press, which opposing teams have exploited in past games .
In the opening minutes of the game, Liverpool sat back and knocked the ball amongst themselves : a tactic that encouraged West Ham to play an attacking football. Unlike most teams that fall back to defend against the Reds, the Hammers were condemned to play offensively, knowing anything short of a win would not help their present predicament.
Roberto Firmino had a chance to score in the second minute of the first half of the game, but his effort inside the eighteen yard box was saved by Joe Hart.
In the ninth minute of the game , Manuel Lanzini’s pass found an on-rushing Andrea Ayew who had successfully breached Liverpool’s off-side trap; the Ghanaian inter-national latched onto the ball inside the Reds’s eighteen yard box : putting himself in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, but his final shot hit the goalpost and flew out of play.
Mohammed Salah scored Liverpool’s first goal of the match from a counter-attack he initiated alongside Sadio Mane. A West Ham United’s corner-kick is cleared out of Liverpool’s eighteen yard box and the ball flies towards Salah who passes it to Mane : the two race into the opponent’s eighteen yard box with Mane driving the ball forward; Mane on getting into the eighteen yard box passes the ball to Salah, whose first touch of the ball gives him the purchase to shoot it beyond Joe Hart into the net.
Liverpool scored their second goal three minutes after the first one through Joel Matip. A Mohammed Salah’s corner-kick is deflected by Mark Noble towards his goal-post, and Hart punches the ball out of the goal-post , only an for Joel Matip to smash the rebound into the net.
The second half was very eventful and produced three goals from both sides.
West Ham scored a beautiful goal through Manuel Lanzini ten minutes after the commencement of the second half. He controlled an Andrea Ayew’s cross, that Joe Gomez failed to clear, with his chest and flicked the ball beyond an on-rushing Mignolet : and the home fans went into instant jubilation.
West Ham had little time or no time to savour the goal they scored when Liverpool scored a minute later through through Alexandre Oxlade-Chamberlain. Joe Hart had punched out Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first shot at his goal with his out-stretched foot, but the England inter-national succeeded in striking the rebound into the net.
Bilic later introduced Andy Carrol, Diafra Sakho, and Marko Arnautovic at different times in the second half, in order to increase the incisiveness of his attacking line and get some goals. Those changes, that were evidently made in desperation, emptied West Ham’s side of mid-fielders, and Liverpool’s players exploited that space time out of number, as they launched their counter-attacking play against the Hammers.
Firmino had a chance to score his side’s fourth goal after breaching West Ham’s defense line, but his final shot flew far away from the goal-post.
Sadio Mane, who had been drifting between the left flank and the mid-field, initiated the move that led to Liverpool’s fourth goal . The jet-heeled winger tore into West Ham’s second third and fed a pass to Salah inside the opponent’s eighteen yard box, and the Egyptian national fired a low curling shot into the net to put the match beyond the home team.
The Reds’ fourth goal was Salah’s twelfth in all competitions and his seventh in the Premier league.
After their fourth goal, Liverpool could safely introduce some players into the game, who were eager to get some minutes under their belts.
Certain features were evident in Liverpool’s game today – their full backs – Alberto Moreno and Joe Gomez – subordinated attacking play to defensive duties, their back four resisted the temptation of venturing up the pitch to shore up the attack, their wingers – Salah and Mane – shuttled between the mid-field and the flanks in the course of the game. These adjustments went a long way in preventing the team from conceding soft goals, as they normally did in past matches.
With today’s emphatic victory, the Reds can now head into the inter-national break safe in the satisfaction that they are now within touching distance of the north section of the Premier league table.