Liverpool took a decisive step towards securing a place in the Top 4 as they emphatically beat West Ham United 4-0 at the London Stadium
Liverpool moved back to third in the Premier League table as they toppled a below-par West Ham United side thanks to a convincing 4-0 win at the London Stadium on Sunday. Both sides traded blows early on in the match but didn’t quite come close to breaking the deadlock by the first 30 minutes.
Just after the half-hour mark, though, the visitors finally established a foothold in the match, as Daniel Sturridge rounded Adrian off to score the opener, having been set up by an exquisite pass through the line by Philippe Coutinho.
West Ham 0-4 Liverpool FT:
Pass accuracy: 72%-87%
Chances created: 6-18
Goals galore. pic.twitter.com/OsfdBv0Zek
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 14, 2017
The Brazilian, then, grabbed a quickfire brace for himself in the second half, as Liverpool tripled their lead by the time an hour of football had been played. The win was subsequently rounded off in the 76th minute as Divock Origi scored from a simple close-range finish.
Liverpool are now a point ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City, while Arsenal sit a further three points adrift in fifth. Meanwhile, West Ham are 12th with 42 points on the board. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at the people who made a big impact on the game and others who disappointed, as well as analysing the overall impact of the game.
The game may have been won on the opposite end of the pitch, and in quite the emphatic manner, but it was Mignolet who must be given due credit for his impact early on in the match. With the scores tied at 0-0, it was anybody’s game in the first half an hour as both sides created opportunities to break the deadlock.
Outfield players will take all the plaudits but Mignolet deserves praise for another solid performance.The most improved player at #LFC.
— AnfieldUrchin (@AnfieldUrchin) May 14, 2017
•4 clean sheets in his last 5 games
Golden Glove nominee next season. pic.twitter.com/XOMU5MMJQM
— Chris Best (@MainmanFirmino) May 14, 2017
However, it was Mignolet, who stood strong and soaked up all the pressure from the West Ham attack. The signs were there to see from the beginning as a strong take showed that the Belgian was up to the task at hand.
The decisive moment came with just 12 minutes on the clock when he made a smart save from Edimilson Fernandes’ shot having spotted the ball late. And while Andre Ayew inexplicably failed to score from the rebound, it was Mignolet’s initial effort that stood out.
The shot-stopper continued to look assured for the remainder of the match in what was a commanding display from him. And having been chastised for much of his time with Liverpool, this was a performance that highlighted just why Jurgen Klopp has continued to put his faith in him ahead of Loris Karius.
From one player who has often made the news for the wrong reasons off the field to someone who has done so for issues off it. Daniel Sturridge’s Liverpool career following a spectacular 2013/14 has been nothing short of a nightmare.
Huge applause for Sturridge as he gets subbed off- he claps back. Away fans sing his name. What a performance 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/JIdOQIq1gn
— LiverpoolFF (@LiverpoolFF) May 14, 2017
A spate of injuries have restrained the Englishman from playing an instrumental role for the Reds in the last three seasons. So much so, that the likes of Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi have usurped him in the pecking order to lead the Liverpool attack.
However, with Firmino and Sadio Mane injured and unavailable, Sturridge was handed a rare opportunity from the start on Sunday, and he didn’t disappoint. He was, time and again, menacing for West Ham defenders to deal with, and showed that it was going to be his day with a couple of shots early on.
It didn’t take long for him to grab a well deserved goal and as he rounded Adrian off to score past the grounded goalkeeper, he showed that the traits of a world class striker still reside within him. Another instance when the age old saying “Form is temporary, class is permanent” came true.
Jurgen Klopp had hinted last week that he could move Philippe Coutinho into a deeper role at the heart of the Liverpool midfield to help him hone his playmaking abilities. And in what was the first such instance of the Brazilian playing in that role, there are signs that it may turn out to be an inspired decision.
Coutinho played deeper today and was outstanding. pic.twitter.com/cu1xTmRryn
— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) May 14, 2017
The change in position worked magnificently, not just for Coutinho but for Liverpool as well, as he played the starring role in the resounding win for his side. The aforementioned playmaking abilities came to the fore early on as he set Sturridge up with a delightful through ball that pierced the West Ham defence.
In the second half, Coutinho grabbed two goals for himself as he displayed some impeccable techniques to score the brace. The proof in the pudding was the two key passes that he made over the course of the match.
That was, perhaps, an indication that the new role is just what Coutinho needs to take his career to the next level and lead Liverpool into a bright future in which they are challenging for trophies on a consistent basis.
One of the most controversial transfers that have taken place in the Premier League in recent memory saw Jose Fonte leave Southampton to join West Ham in the winter transfer window – a move that ended with a lot of animosity and bad taste in the mouth.
Criminal lack of awareness from Jose Fonte for that Liverpool goal. So poor to play Sturridge onside. He’s been a terrible signing.
— Adrian Clarke (@adrianjclarke) May 14, 2017
Having completed the move to the London Stadium though, Fonte was expected to bolster a defence that has stuttered for large parts of the campaign. However, from what transpired on the field on Sunday, he looked anything but the player who is capable enough to lead the West Ham defence.
The most notable of his misgivings on the afternoon came when Liverpool scored their first goal, as of all the grave mistakes that the entire West Ham defensive unit made during the entire sequence, his was easily the most unacceptable one.
Fonte was caught sleeping as Sturridge bypassed the offside trap due to the Portuguese defender’s faulty positioning before he slotted the ball into the back of the net with ease. He was subsequently taken off with just 55 minutes on the clock, and he needs to make big improvements to rightly bolster the West Ham defence.
Perhaps it’s harsh to pick James Milner in this category after the defensively solid performance that he turned in during the match, but such are the standards that he has set as the makeshift left-back this season that it wasn’t hard to say that this was one of his worst in the role.
Whenever James Milner puts in a cross. pic.twitter.com/WltA1p2bKc
— SH (@Sennesation) May 14, 2017
Make no mistake about it, Milner was solid in his defensive duties and worked hard all through the match in his own half while being near-flawless when pressing. But it was his impact in the final third that was negligible, as he had no influence whatsoever in attack for Liverpool.
His passing was absolutely appalling on the afternoon, as he had a pass accuracy of just 77% – an indication of just how much he struggled on the ball. With rumours that Jurgen Klopp is likely to recruit a left-back in the summer, Milner needs to pull his socks up in order to retain his place in the starting lineup.
Analysis of the Impact
Liverpool have Champions League hopes firmly in their own hands
All the talks pertaining to Liverpool in the buildup to the match surrounded the race for the Top 4, with the pressure on Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal to outdo each other in the remaining two weeks to grab the final two places in the exclusive club.
Liverpool one step closer to the Champions League… pic.twitter.com/1oXTm6Wc56
— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) May 14, 2017
Liverpool had played a game more than City and Arsenal, and with the latter duo equalling the games played tally on Saturday, the pressure was back on Jurgen Klopp and his charges to do just what their rivals did and grab the three points.
The task was not going to be easy as in front of them were a side who had proven to be tough nut to crack in seasons gone by, especially in London. However, the Reds passed with flying colours in their first test in what was a complete performance by them.
Just one game remains for Klopp’s men, and they know that a win is all they need to secure their place in the Top 4, even if automatic qualification may be out of their hands. It now remains to be seen if they can get that win over Middlesbrough on Sunday to return to the Champions League next season.