Entering the year as the second favorite to win the title, Liverpool began the season proving that they will be a team worthy of the expectations. Beating a West Ham team who spent a lot over the summer
and still needs time to gel is not really announcing your greatness but the way it was done with ease sure was. Not only did Liverpool beat the Hammers convincingly, they were able to reflect it in the final score as well as showing off their most improved asset this year, the bench.
Newcomers impressed with Keita showing why Liverpool waited for him like a good wife waiting for her husband to get out of prison as Klopp likes to say.
Even though Alisson did not have much to do in goal, the confidence and calm he gives the defense and more importantly the fans is worth his price tag. He seemed calm on the ball with several pinpoint passes to start the attack. In all fairness to Karius, some of the same passes Alisson made in the game would have caused gasps and worry in the fans if it was coming from him.
Perhaps that is what the money buys you, confidence in ability, merited or not.
Shaqiri came off the bench and showed why he will be a very valuable asset this year, and might very well be the steal of the summer with what he can bring to this team.
Then there is this ‘newish’ kid, Daniel Sturridge. Scoring 20 seconds after coming in, but more importantly, showing signs of realizing that this is his last chance to make an impression and hold a spot on a team chasing the title.
Perhaps going to WBA for a few months was enough of a wake up call to show that there are clubs and then there are clubs with actual ambitions.
Liverpool controlled the game from the start. It never looked like West Ham could pose a threat, which perhaps caused Liverpool to relax a bit at times. As the commentator NBC Sports broadcast said (not the best but definitely a breath of fresh air after the abysmal Fox World Cup broadcasts), it almost seemed like Liverpool would catch their breath, move the ball around and go after the Hammers again.
This perhaps is the biggest danger to Liverpool’s title chances. As Klopp repeatedly states, Liverpool did not lose points to City in the title race, it just did not collect enough points from the teams who were lower in the standings. I hope that the killer instinct stays where we keep looking for more goals just like it is a tie game, finishing off opponents and being able to sub out key starters to keep their minutes to a minimum.
West Ham showed no life or threat of scoring, but there are games where the two-goal lead could be the worst thing as it gives the false sense of a job complete. Like driving uphill, once you take your foot off the pedal, it is very hard and takes a long time to regain momentum. That is why a goal given up in a two-goal lead game almost every time results in the second goal to tie the game.
This brings us to Liverpool’s biggest strength this year compared to last season: the bench. It was clear to see towards the end of the West Ham game that the players who came off the bench like Shaqiri and Sturridge were still pushing for more goals with the hunger of a player trying to show themselves in the preseason. While every other player on the field—especially West Ham players—were waiting and praying for the final whistle and to hit the showers, Shaqiri and Sturridge were looking to speed up the attack, creating more goals and continuing to take it to the Hammers.
This is by far the best bench Liverpool has had in the last decade and will be the key to our success this year. It will also challenge Klopp in spreading the minutes, finding the perfect combinations in each line whether it is defense, midfield, or the front three. If I had one thing to criticize in this game, it would be using these subs too late. I think this will change over time as we play more than once a week but I felt like Sturridge could have come into the game much earlier.
Next up is our first away game at Crystal Palace. Titles are won by consistent success which is what this team needs to show regardless of opponent. YNWA!