[Liverpool 3 – 1 West Ham].
An unusual hat trick for Liverpool today… of three 3-1s in a row. However, the team clearly got confused when they scored first, rather than the opposition. One might call that ungentlemanly since Liverpool has seen fit to give almost every other team that advantage so far this season, but to be fair, West Ham are in a moment. It remains to be seen whether the Hammers can build some consistency, but teams like that, when they are in a moment, can be extremely dangerous. This was never an easy game, and the opening twenty minutes looked very much like they would begin as every other game has. Except Alisson had other ideas, with one outrageous save that by all rights should have been that first goal.
Some day, Brazilian national team managers may understand just how good he is.
Kidding aside, this was a very good performance against an excellent team, and it showed a lot of wonderful things about this “Liverpool 2.0”, as Klopp recently called them. We’ve always had the talent, but there is depth now in the squad, and it shows. The midfield is filled with world-class players who are still improving. The front line is scary. The defense may feel thin and certainly must be the next element to overhaul, but Joe Gomez had a phenomenal outing (again, I daresay), as did Joel Matip, who continues to lay claim to being the most underrated defender in the league. Van Dijk may never be quite as good as he was before that awful hatchet job by Pickford, but he is still easily one of the best. If anything, it was Robbo today who looked a bit careless, but he can be forgiven considering he was up against the Hammers’ best, and they tried to overload him.
Jota came off the bench to score another Jota goal and allow the heart monitors to go back to normal range, but it was a Mac Allister-Nunez combo that broke the tie. That was an amazing goal, a peach of an assist, and an even peachier chip to the far post. This again brings up the issue of Darwin Nunez, because how in the world does he score that one but miss the one before? If Jota’s goal was a poacher’s classic, then Darwin’s performance was a chaos classic, in that if you average the expected goals out of those two opportunities you’d get at one… just not that one.
Szoboszlai was so good that I won’t even say anything beyond holy guacamole, have we got a winner on our hands? Jones is doing wonderful things as a pressure builder and relief valve, a sort of Hendo-Bobby hybrid, which he might not enjoy as much but is key to the system. Diaz is stupid and silly with the ball. And when you don’t start with them, you can bring on Gravenberch, Gakpo, Jota, Harvey… and, let us not forget, there’s a Thiago lurking.
So who didn’t I mention yet? Indeed, my man-of-the-match, whose penalty was so full of (positive) anger and venom, it underlined the kind of performance that only he can put together. Yes, Salah is getting older, and he likely won’t score as much going forward, but in exchange, he now creates chances and assists goals that in the past he would have squandered. Not to mention that his defensive work is downright fantastical. The overall return is even higher, hard as it is to imagine. It looks like Salah is finally learning how to be a winger.
I mean, took him long enough.
In the end, David Moyes did the thing he usually does and quietly handed Klopp the three points. That was nice of him, and we certainly wish the Hammers much-continued success in building on their previous momentum for, oh, the next six months or so.
As for the Reds… five of six ain’t bad.
It ain’t bad at all.