FROM LONDON STADIUM – Goals from Cody Gakpo and Joel Matip earned Liverpool a come-from-behind win over West Ham United in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.
The Reds has initially gone behind in the game thanks to Lucas Paqueta goal, but were able claw back the three points against a spirited West Ham team to move to within six points of Manchester United in fourth place.
Liverpool had a lot of the ball in the opening 10 minutes but it would be West Ham who’d open the scoring thanks to Paqueta. The in-form Brazilian played a lovely one-two on the edge of the box with Michail Antonio before firing past Alisson and into the net.
Should Alisson have saved Paqueta’s effort on goal? Yes, the answer to that question is yes, he absolutely should’ve saved it. The West Ham fans weren’t complaining though, giving the goal quite the cheer when the ball hit the back of the net.
Just six minutes later, the cheers subsided when Liverpool found a way to equalise through Gakpo. The January signing took possession about 25-yard yards from goal and unleashed what looked like a speculative strike goalward – a speculative strike which in fact wasn’t speculative at all. Despite the lack of real pace on the strike, it was perfectly placed, spinning past the outstretched arm of Lukasz Fabianski and into the bottom left corner of the net.
The Reds piled on the pressure thereafter, pressing West Ham high in their defensive third. That press almost culminated in a goal in the 26th minute when, after winning the ball back then, losing it, then winning it back, then losing it again, the ball somehow pinballed into the path of Diogo Jota, who volleyed his subsequent effort well over the crossbar.
Liverpool would come close once again 12 minutes later when Jordan Henderson flicked a near post Mohamed Salah cross into the back post area, where the very tiny (the reason he missed the chance) Jota could only flick his subsequent headed effort wide of the post.
The visitors were almost made to pay for that missed chance moments later when West Ham came close to re-taking the lead on two occasions. The first opportunity would come when the Hammers broke quickly down the left flank – exploiting the space left back the inverted Trent Alexander-Arnold – through Said Benrahma, who squared up Jordan Henderson on the left side of the penalty area before side-footing a teasing cross to the back stick. Unfortunately for West Ham, Virgil van Dijk was able to just get to the ball before Michail Antonio could to tip it round the post for a corner kick.
From the resulting corner kick, Antonio would get a chance to score, latching onto a near-post flick-on to instinctively head across goal and wide of the goal.
West Ham came racing out of the traps at the start of the second half, piling the pressure on Liverpool’s backline. After 10 minutes of said pressure, the Hammers thought they’d taken a deserved 2-1 lead in the 55th minute when Jarrod Bowen was played through on goal by Paqueta, before he coolly side-footed into the bottom right corner of the net.
A quick VAR check, however, was all that was needed to rule the goal out for offside.
That offside goal and the introduction of both Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz seemed to spark Liverpool back into life as, within five minutes of both coming on, the Reds had taken the lead. The goal would come courtesy of a thumping header from defender Matip, who ghosted in egregiously unmarked into the six-yard box to make it 2-1.
West Ham did press forward thereafter in search of an equaliser, with the best chance of the lot falling to Tomas Soucek, who headed a corner kick over the crossbar.
GK – Lukasz Fabianski – 5/10 – Could do nothing about either goal.
RB – Vladimir Coufal – 6/10 – Kept Jota very quiet on the night.
CB – Kurt Zouma – 4/10 – Should probably have tried marking Matip at set pieces. Might’ve helped.
CB – Nayef Aguerd – 7/10 – Made a few crucial blocks. Very good showing.
LB – Aaron Cresswell – 6/10 – Dealt with Salah well throughout.
CM – Lucas Paqueta – 8/10 – Scored a brilliant goal to open the scoring. Ran his socks off and showed some quality on the ball too. What more could you want from a midfielder?
CM – Declan Rice – 7/10 – Didn’t do much wrong in the middle of the park. Passed the ball about well and filled in when needed in defence too.
CM – Tomas Soucek – 5/10 – The least impressive of West Ham’s midfield three. Which you’d expect when you look at who he’s playing with.
RW – Jarrod Bowen – 6/10 – Scored an offside goal when West Ham were in the ascendancy.
ST – Michail Antonio – 6/10 – Linked up play well and bagged himself an assist for his troubles.
LW – Said Benrahma – 6/10 – A few lovely touches out wide. Cause Liverpool’s non-existent right side of their defence problems.
Maxwel Cornet – N/A.
Danny Ings – N/A.
Manager – David Moyes – 6/10 – Played exactly the way you’d have expected a David Moyes team to play.
GK – Alisson – 4/10 – Should’ve done better for the opening goal.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5/10 – Played the inverted wing-back role again on Wednesday evening. Swept up well in the middle of the park and bagged an assist, but the space he left at right-back was exploited at times by West Ham.
CB – Joel Matip – 7/10 – Scored a thumping header in the second half.
CB – Virgil van Dijk – 7/10 – Came close to scoring in the first half and made a few vital interceptions at the other end too.
LB – Andrew Robertson – 5/10 – Set piece delivery was decent, but looser in possession than Klopp perhaps would’ve liked on occasion.
CM – Jordan Henderson – 6/10 – Played as Liverpool’s furtherest forward midfielder and also was forced to fill in the gaps at right-back when his team were on the back foot too. As expected, he tired quickly and was subbed off.
CM – Fabinho – 4/10 – Seemed to have an innate ability to play the wrong pass in the first half.
CM – Curtis Jones – 5/10 – Lively but didn’t show a massive amount of quality on the ball.
RW – Mohamed Salah – 5/10 – Not at his brilliant best.
ST – Cody Gakpo – 8/10 – Dropped deep throughout and cause West Ham plenty of problems. Scored a great equalising goal.
LW – Diogo Jota – 5/10 – Didn’t quite look like the Diogo Jota who scored four goals last week. More like the one who hadn’t scored in a year before that.
Thiago Alcantara – 7/10 – Made a big difference to Liverpool’s midfield.
Luis Diaz – 6/10 – Looked as lively as ever when he was introduced.
Darwin Nunez – N/A.
James Milner – N/A.
Manager – Jurgen Klopp – 6/10 – He’s clearly testing some tactical waters ahead of next season. Sometimes it looks like he’s onto something with TAA as an inverted full-back, but he needs a bit more energy in the middle of the park to fill in the gaps defensively too. Gakpo is wroking well as the new Roberto Firmino up top though. To summarise: a work-in-progress.