Trent Alexander-Arnold stood out, while Sadio Mane’s goal made the difference as Liverpool beat West Ham United 1-0 on Saturday.
Liverpool started the game on the front foot but had to toil to create clear-cut openings, with David Moyes setting West Ham United up to absorb the pressure. The Hammers’ outlook also meant they posed a threat on the counter, and Michail Antonio gave the hosts a fair bit to worry about.
But Liverpool deservedly grabbed the lead midway through the first half when Sadio Mane converted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross by ghosting in behind Craig Dawson. West Ham remained in the contest and nearly scored through Pablo Fornals, only for Alexander-Arnold to produce a stunning goalline clearance.
The second half was an end-to-end affair, with Manuel Lanzini coming the closest to finding the back of the net. But both defensive units stuck to their task and ensured the game ended just as it had started at the break, enabling Liverpool to eke out a 1-0 win over West Ham.
The result means the Reds are now just three points behind Manchester City, who will face local rivals Manchester United on Sunday in a must-win encounter. As for West Ham, the Hammers suffered another blow to their top-four hopes, giving Arsenal the impetus to steer clear of the rest of the chasing pack.
Alisson Becker: 7/10
Even though West Ham threatened a fair bit, Alisson did not have much goalkeeping to do. But he had to remain alert and made two strong saves to deny Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 9/10
Alexander-Arnold produced a complete performance on Saturday, laying on the assist for Sadio Mane while also having some big defensive moments. Among those, a stunning goalline clearance to deny Pablo Fornals stood out. He is starting to evolve as a full-back.
16 – Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided 16 assists in all competitions this season for Liverpool, his best return in a campaign in his career, overtaking the 15 he achieved in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Sweet. pic.twitter.com/wxOkFE0Elt
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 5, 2022
Ibrahima Konate: 7/10
With Joel Matip unavailable, Konate was handed a rare start in the Premier League. The young defender was slow to begin with, as Michail Antonio gave him some moments to worry about. But as the minutes wore on, Konate started holding his own at the heart of the Liverpool defence, producing some important tackles.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
Virgil van Dijk might have gone unnoticed in the game, but that was largely down to his ability to keep the backline disciplined and organised, which alleviated the pressure on him. The Dutchman still remained imperious in the air, winning a staggering six duels. His tremendous unbeaten run at home continues.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Alexander-Arnold might be getting much of the adulation, but Robertson was more rampant than his full-back partner. The Scot’s improving chemistry with Luis Diaz was also on full display, and he posed a constant threat during his forays down the left flank. He could have had something tangible to show for his efforts on another day.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Henderson was a pivotal figure in a rampant first half for Liverpool, with his trademark passes on full display. But he started to wear off as the minutes progressed after the break, struggling to contain Manuel Lanzini, in particular.
Henderson: "We dominated the ball for large parts and towards the end we had to grind it out."
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) March 5, 2022
It was one of those games in which Fabinho was rendered inconsequential. With West Ham looking to bypass him, the Brazilian international was almost helpless at times in his bid to keep things tight. But he chipped in with some key defensive moments, especially when he had to cover for either Alexander-Arnold or Robertson.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Unlike Henderson, Keita started slowly before steadily growing into the game. The Guinean international was critical in several moments in the second half, with one last-ditch tackle standing out. He never lost the ball cheaply either, helping Liverpool heap the pressure on West Ham.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
It was a rare off day for Salah, who tried his best without reward on Saturday. The Egyptian wing-wizard did not lack effort, but things did not fall in place for him against West Ham. It was just one of those days.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
Mane was here, there, and everywhere for Liverpool against West Ham. The Senegalese forward was wasteful with some of his touches, but he popped up in the right place at the right time to score the match-winning goal when it mattered the most. He cannot do anything wrong right now.
Sadio Mane’s last three Premier League games for Liverpool:
⚽️ vs Norwich
⚽️⚽️ vs Leeds
⚽️ vs West Ham
Rediscovering his scoring touch. 🇸🇳 pic.twitter.com/w90mwDdfBq
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 5, 2022
Luis Diaz: 7/10
Diaz might not have scored, but he was mighty impressive yet again. The Colombian international was a nippy customer on the left flank, and some of his touches were delightful. But his finishing was lacklustre, and he needs to address that side of his game.
Diogo Jota: N/A
Jota replaced Salah with ten minutes left in regulation time and had a decent half-chance falling his way. But he could not apply the finishing touches to that opening.
James Milner: N/A
A late introduction, Milner helped see the game out.
Curtis Jones: N/A
A late introduction, Jones helped see the game out.
West Ham United
Lukasz Fabianski: 6.5/10
There was not a whole lot that Fabianski could have done to deny Sadio Mane. But the veteran goalkeeper made a few big saves to ensure West Ham remained in the game till the dying embers. Alas, it was not to be for him and the Hammers.
Ben Johnson: 7/10
With Vladimir Coufal and Ryan Fredericks unavailable, Johnson was an automatic pick at right-back. The young defender stood up to the task of defending the tricky Luis Diaz admirably, even though the Colombian got the better of him several times. Some of his passes to open up play were marvellous, and he even played two key passes.
Craig Dawson: 6.5/10
Dawson provided a solid presence at the back for the most part on Saturday. But the English centre-back should have done better to cover Mane for the Liverpool goal instead of letting the Senegalese international run off his shoulder. Otherwise, there was very little to fault in his display.
Kurt Zouma: 8/10
Zouma was a colossal presence at the heart of the West Ham defence, completing a staggering nine clearances in addition to four interceptions and two blocks. His performance deserved a better result from his side, and the Frenchman will be gutted by the defeat.
Aaron Cresswell: 6/10
Even though Salah was not quite at his best, Cresswell still struggled to contain the rampant Liverpool talisman and did not look convincing apart from one clearance on the line. At the same time, he also lost the ball cheaply too many times, with a 69 per cent passing rate leaving a lot to be desired. He needs to get back to his best.
Jarrod Bowen: 6/10
Jarrod Bowen has played in 79 consecutive Premier League games for West Ham without missing a single one, the longest streak in the club's history.
With that injury, it might be over. 😔 pic.twitter.com/O4MaiNHS8w
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 5, 2022
Bowen oddly did not see the ball as much as he would have liked due to the changed system. But the Englishman still managed to play two key passes. His game ended in heartbreak as he picked up an injury that will leave Moyes concerned over his availability for the foreseeable future.
Tomas Soucek: 7/10
Soucek being passed fit to start was a major positive for West Ham, especially in Declan Rice’s absence. And the Czech midfielder was solid in the middle of the park, barely giving his counterparts an inch. But some of his passing was sloppy, and he lost the ball carelessly at times.
Manuel Lanzini: 7/10
Lanzini was deployed in a deeper midfield role in the absence of Rice, and the Argentine executed his defensive responsibilities with discipline. Lanzini made two terrific last-ditch tackles and completed three interceptions. But he failed to convert one of the most clear-cut openings in the game, which docks his rating slightly.
Nikola Vlasic: 5/10
Declan Rice’s injury gave Vlasic a rare chance to impress in a Premier League game. But the Croat squandered his opportunity as he failed to get into the game, before rightly being taken off for Mark Noble at the hour mark. He is in desperate need of some inspiration.
Pablo Fornals: 6/10
Moyes handed all his attackers a free role, and Fornals looked the better for it on Saturday. But the Spaniard should have buried his chance when Alexander-Arnold denied him off the line. Other than that, he was a nippy customer and looked to put van Dijk under pressure, without much success.
— entitled (@PythonBro) March 5, 2022
Michail Antonio: 6.5/10
Antonio was the main man for West Ham in the first half, as he was the only player who looked like he could make a difference. But the Jamaican international faded as the game progressed, particularly after Bowen’s substitution.
Said Benrahma: 6/10
Forced into the game after Bowen’s substitution, Benrahma failed to influence the proceedings. The Algerian international lacked ideas to make things happen, even though West Ham remained in the game right until the full-time whistle.
Mark Noble: 7/10
Noble was a solid customer in the middle of the park after replacing Vlasic at the hour mark. And despite facing the daunting Liverpool press, the West Ham captain misplaced just two passes in his cameo.
Dan Chesters: N/A
A late introduction, Chesters made his Premier League debut in the game’s dying embers.