West Ham v Liverpool Post Match Thoughts- More goals than all the 3pm kick offs put together!

This 5.30 pm clash had more goals (5) than all the other 3pm kick offs put together (4). All those 4 goals in the 3pm kick offs (Van la Parra, Cook, Vokes and Murray) were scored by ex-Brighton players.

Ok, putting the stats nerd in me aside, if you were a West Ham fan, then this game was another dark evening at the London Stadium, and given the rumours swirling around, also potentially Slaven Bilic’s last in charge of the club. At the time of writing of this article, West Ham have officially dropped into the relegation zone, with Everton winning a five goal thriller at Goodison Park against Watford (for whom ex-Everton player Tom Cleverley missed a late penalty) to climb out of the bottom three.

With Pablo Zabaleta suspended and Michail Antonio and Sam Byram both injured, Edimilson Fernandes was given the task of playing right wingback. The returning Winston Reid immediately slotted into central defence in place of Jose Fonte, who had picked up a knock in the 2-2 draw against Palace last week. Fernandes’ place in midfield was given to Pedro Obiang and Bilic opted to keep faith with the same attacking trio that had started against Palace- Lanzini, Ayew and Hernandez.

WHUFC XI v Liverpool 2017

For Liverpool, the greatest surprise was perhaps the return of Sadio Mane to the XI. He was not expected to return until after the international break, but Klopp said in midweek that he would be fit enough to play 20-25 minutes. But here he was starting at the London Stadium, and potentially up against an out of position Fernandes.

The first 20 minutes weren’t bad for West Ham. The first real chance of the game fell to them, with Lanzini’s pass taking a deflection off a Liverpool player and into the path of Ayew, whose lifted effort hit the woodwork. The first corner of the game also went to West Ham, and it was here that things started to go pear-shaped for the home side.

All of West Ham’s central defenders went up for the corner, leaving Cresswell as the solitary defender on the half way line. Lanzini’s delivery was headed away and 15 seconds later, at the end of a Salah-Mane counter attacking move that Cresswell could do little to stop, the Egyptian slotted in to put the Reds ahead.

Having conceded from their own corner, disaster struck West Ham two minutes later, this time from a Liverpool one. Salah’s corner took a deflection off Noble and while Hart did well to parry it first time, he was powerless to stop Matip, who was quickest to the rebound.

Noble was also the only person from either side to get booked in the first half, with Swarbrick carding him for simulation in the 37th minute. Half time in this game seemed pretty much like the Spurs Cup game– West Ham seemed to be out of ideas and dead and buried.

Bilic sent on Andy Carroll for Fernandes at half time, with Kouyate switching to right back to facilitate the move. In the 55th minute, West Ham pulled one back. Joe Gomez allowed Lanzini to get behind him, and the latter chested down Ayew’s cross before superbly lifting it past Simon Mignolet.

That glimmer of hope was crushed as quickly as it had emerged, with Liverpool scoring seconds later to restore their two goal advantage. Firmino was afforded too much space and outmuscled Reid, and the ball arrived at the feet of Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, whose first time attempt was saved by Joe Hart, but not the second. It was AOC’s first Premier League goal in eleven months, and no prizes for guessing the team against which he had scored his last goal (also West Ham, in Arsenal colours, back in December 2016!)

AOC Goal

Bilic sent on Marko Arnautovic for Noble and then Diafra Sakho for Hernandez, who had missed the target twice with headed opportunities in the box before getting substituted off. The gaffer used all three of his available attacking subs in this fixture, and one has to wonder if the time has come to give young Toni Martinez a run.

In between all this, Firmino had the chance to put Liverpool 4-1 up, but he fired wide of the post. But the goal did eventually come, and once again from a West Ham mistake. Lanzini’s pass to Arnautovic was gobbled up by Gomez and on the counter, Sadio Mane strode forward, picked himself up after Obiang’s challenge and passed the ball to an unmarked Salah, who drilled it through Kouyate’s legs and into the bottom corner.

At this stage, the game was done and dusted, with Liverpool now having scored four goals in consecutive seasons at the London Stadium. West Ham were thoroughly demoralised and chances continue to pour in for the Reds thereafter, with Firmino, Milner and Solanke all wasting opportunities to add to the scoreline.

And so 4-1 it finished, with Liverpool not really having to get into top gear. West Ham, as usual, their worst enemies, and they now have the record for most goals conceded in the Premier League this season. That, for a team coached by a former centre-half, is quite unacceptable.

West Ham 1 (Lanzini) Liverpool 4 (Salah 21, 75 Matip 24, Ox 56)

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