Reds Stroll to Stratford Victory
West Ham United suffered their first defeat since 21 December on Sunday afternoon as Liverpool beat them 3-1 in Stratford.
David Moyes stuck with the same team that won at Crystal Palace last Tuesday, meaning Saïd Benrahma retained his place in the side after becoming a permanent player for the East Londoners.
Jürgen Klopp’s men had only had two days to prepare for this game after their win against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday so the home fans must have thought that the Hammers would have a chance to continue their unbeaten run. In truth, it never really worked out that way, as the hosts started uncharacteristically slow, therefore allowing the visitors to dominate.
Whilst Liverpool were enjoying the majority of possession, the home side’s defence was not letting anything past them with both Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson producing vital blocks.
The best effort the Irons could muster came on twenty four minutes when James Milner’s deflection helped Pablo Fornals’ shot towards goal but unfortunately, Andrew Robertson saw the danger in time and headed clear.
With both teams trying to get the measure of one another, it was clear to see why the game had begun in a very cagey mannor. The Reds had a good chance to go in front but Divock Origi wasted the opportunity as it didn’t even trouble Łukasz Fabiański.
The hosts would have been pleased to have kept the visitors out before the break, given the threat they could pose but they were very much aware that they had another forty five minutes to play.
After claiming their first win of the year just three days earlier, Klopp’s side were keen to build on that success and again started the second-half on the front foot. The Hammers’ defence were still on their guard and Aaron Cresswell did brilliantly to prevent Mohamed Salah from breaking the deadlock with a well-timed interception after the Egyptian was played in by Origi.
West Ham then had the chance to take the lead when Jarrod Bowen set up a counter-attack and found Michail Antonio but unfortunately, the effort went narrowly wide causing no trouble for visiting goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Antonio’s miss only inspired the visitors to increase the pressure and eventually it paid off as Klopp introduced youngster Curtis Jones in place of Milner.
The change was to have an immediate effect as he evaded the attentions of Cresswell and played the perfect pass to Salah, who then showed great skill to beat Fabianski with fifty seven minutes gone.
With the Irons a goal behind, Moyes wanted to provide more support to the frontman and made his first change just five minutes later as Andriy Yarmolenko was sent on in place of Fornals.
Instead of pushing on in search of an equaliser, the home side instead invited more and more pressure and eleven minutes later, the visitors had doubled their advantage. Salah was on the scoresheet once again when Liverpool broke after clearing a West Ham corner and the striker was able to latch onto Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass and finish past Fabianski.
With time running out and Liverpool on course for their second win in the space of three days, Moyes decided to use his two remaining substitutions. Ryan Fredericks and Mark Noble took the places of both Bowen and Antonio.
The visitors, who scored three in London a matter of days earlier repeated the trick when a third arrived with just six minutes to go. Georginio Wijnaldum sealed the points when the Dutchman found the back of the net after Robertson was given time and space to set him up.
The Hammers did however find a consolation as Dawson grabbed his second goal of the week when he met Cresswell’s corner and struck the ball past Becker.
The Irons will be looking to bounce back when they face the first of two road trips as they go to Aston Villa on Wednesday night.