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Football News: West Ham United v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

West Ham United v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

West Ham United v Liverpool


Yet another lacklustre performance as Liverpool limp towards the end of the season, it is reminscent of when Alex Ferguson first announced he was leaving Manchester United and they lost their way so badly he changed his mind. If I remember correctly, it also happened to Rangers when they were going for 10 in a row Scottish titles under Walter Smith. It ended up costing them the title I am sure, though I could be wrong on that one. It was something everyone was worried about when Klopp's statement came out. The season is just meandering to a finish now, with a bunch of players that seem to have given up and are just marking time for the season to end. The problem is that there is not a lot Klopp can really do now, other than drop them all and play the under 21s! Salah showed that being dropped can still provoke a reaction from some players, even if being fired up did not really produce any results on the pitch from him. Having said that, it was not like he was given much time to affect the game. In fact I do wonder if Klopp provoked Salah just before he was set to go on to get him fired up. Mo is a very placid sort of person but when he went on the pitch he was clearly fired up and looking to win that match.

To be fair, the performance did pick up at the start of the second half, with Liverpool one down they came out and attacked. They got the two goals, though it must be said there was a lot of luck in both, and looked to have the Hammers on the ropes. Just as I am thinking how good it is to see a bit of fight in the team, Liverpool allowed West Ham back in by reverting to slow passing around the defence and midfield. I know they want to control the game by keeping the ball and not allowing the opposition to get on it, but they can do that just as well by going and getting a third while West Ham were there for the taking. You can press high, win it back and then play a safe ball, rather than a quick counter to maintain control. I know the thinking is to have more control by keeping possession, but if you want to do that, then you need to build a team to do so. Liverpool have not really done that, the signings have been confused between players for the high intensity style and ones for the slow, laboured, controlling play.

If you are going to play it, then you need centre-backs who are ball players, yet Konate is the one that was signed. He is a more intense type of player and not really a ball-player. In fact you can go through the transfers since the Premier League win and the same confusion clearly applies. Jota and Tsimikas came in as well as Thiago back then. Thiago is perfect for a controlling tactic, but Tsimikas and Jota are all hustle and bustle, high-intensity workers who are unsuited to it. The following season it was Diaz, Konate and Elliott, none really suited to playing a slower game. Then there is Nunez, who is certainly not a player for controlled play. But that same season saw Gakpo, Carvalho and Ramsay too, all of whom look better suited to a bit more control. Even the choice of Melo on loan seemed to be to provide another Thiago-type in midfield. Then we come to this summer and it was back to players who want to play with intensity. It makes little sense as a recruitment policy and it is no wonder the style of play is not working so well when the recruitment is so confused.

That does not excuse what is currently happening on the pitch, with no one picking up players, closing down opponents or attempting to win headers. Once again Liverpool conceded simple goals by not challenging in the air. Antonio had so much space it is astonishing. That is simply not good enough and there is no excuse for that.

What I do find most strange is that more is not being made of the moment when Areola, after pretending to be hurt to waste time, rolled the ball in front of him and started pulling up his socks. It was a ludicrous mistake by a keeper who is prone to dodgy moments and Gakpo had spotted it and raced forward to get the loose ball, only to be stopped by the referee. Anthony Taylor's decision was outright corruption because he covered up his blatant mistake by ordering the Areola to go down and calling on the physios, even though Areola made no attempt to claim he was injured. He was too busy looking embarrassed and confused. It is one thing for a referee to make a mistake, but a responsible person owns up to their error rather than attempts to cover it up. I could have respected Taylor for holding his hands up, but now I am just even more sure that he should be immediately sacked from the Premier League referee's pool. Forget that Taylor has altered a result by his actions, it is the lack of responsibility he showed and lack of respect for fans watching the game. The reason why Pierluigi Collina commanded respect on the pitch is not because he was perfect. He made mistakes too, but he owned them and held up his hands to them.


If ever there was a team that set up to give Liverpool a chance to win, without playing well, it was West Ham once again. Moyes' attitude of 'knife to a gun fight' pervades the whole Hammers team and they sit back and invite pressure, despite their defence being very much a weak link right now. It was strange to see two teams coming in off the back of bad results and yet neither were fired up to go out there and take the game to the other. Neither side were closing down the opposition, making it so easy for the other to just play right through them, but they also seemed to lack the ambition to do so most of the time. What they really lacked was ambition. They were always happy to settle for a point and were so placid and deep they almost threw that away. Each time they did attack, they cut through the Liverpool defence so easily, you would have thought they would be tempted to attack more, but they just wanted to get straight back into their defensive positions and sit in front of their own goal.


Quick notes on the players:


Alisson - he needs some protection from the defence, as opposing teams are able to just stroll through it at will right now. He did make a mistake, dropping an easy catch, but quickly made up for it with a save afterwards. He was not really under any kind of sustained pressure though, West Ham were too content to sit back for long periods of the game.

Alexander-Arnold - when he is out wide, it creates so many problems for the opposition as it drags them out to deal with him, but every chance he gets Alexander-Arnold moves into the centre leaving an absence of width on the right and reducing his own options to play passes. West Ham were so narrow and compact, that they were always open to a switch of play or to put it wide into space from the centre, with so much space to play the ball into but there was never the option open to switch it right. That made it so much easier for the Hammers to defend as they only had to worry about the left side.

Quansah - while he did not have a bad game per se, the fact that he and the rest of the defence stand off and allow opponents to just stroll through them and make no real attempt to shut them down on the ball, it is difficult to say that he played well. Also, allowing so many free headers for opposing players from set pieces and crosses is poor defending.

van Dijk - completely out of sorts in these final weeks. He is constantly stood off watching while opponents play through or attack headers. He did manage to get to a couple, but is still far too passive when the ball is played into the box.

Robertson - was a little subdued in the first half, as he sat back providing cover on the left most of the time. Second half he was much more the marauding full-back of old and caused havoc. His goal had a lot of luck about it (the keeper should have done a lot better) but he was there and took the shot when the chance came. It was worrying that he pulled up lame in the final few minutes.

Endo - not really the game for him as West Ham sat off Liverpool and never really made it into a battle. Soucek was so deep most of the game he was playing as an auxiliary centre-back, so there was little reason to have a specific defensive midfielder there.

Mac Allister - got forward well but his passing was not at its best. West Ham did close off forward passing lanes well as they were sat so deep and narrow, but he was trying to force forward passes at times.

Gravenberch - flattered to deceive. Had some good moments but his end product was poor. Needed to do a bit more.

Diaz - once again plays well, causes havoc but still needs to provide more end product.

Elliott - another one who came too narrow. The lack of width down the right was a real problem and he was not helping by moving all over the pitch. Yes, he was trying really hard, but he needed to use his head more and hold the width.

Gakpo - he ended up too deep, trying to play in the centre like Firmino used to. It really does not suit him and he would be better on the left, but he does offer good workrate and it was his shot that, though going badly wide, ended up in the back of the net via a couple of ricochets. It was also his bright thinking that should have led to a late chance to win it, if the referee had not shit the bed the way he did.

Gomez - replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 78th minute. Came on too late to really do anything.

Nunez - took Endo's place in the 78th minute. His biggest part in the match was probably holding back Salah before they came on.

Salah - also brought on in the 78th minute, to replace Diaz. Looked fired up, and not just because of his disagreement with Klopp and lack of hug. He was positive and got forward well, though his passing and end product was still not there.

Szoboszlai - came on in the 90th + 1 minute in place of Quansah. A strange substitution and he had no chance to do anything of note.

Tsimikas - never came on to take the place of the injured Robertson because he took so long to get ready.

Written by Tris Burke April 29 2024 11:40:52


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