Liverpool 4-0 West Ham 2018- Hammers put to the sword at Anfield

If Manuel Pellegrini needed an idea of the enormous task that lies in front of him as he seeks to rebuild this club, he got it on the opening day of the season at Anfield. There was a mild air of optimism among the travelling fans, with the Hammers among the top five spenders domestically in this transfer market. Five of the ten signings made by Pellegrini this summer- Lukasz Fabianski in goal, Ryan Fredericks at right back, Fabian Balbuena at CB, Jack Wilshere in the centre of the park and club record signing Felipe Anderson on the left side of midfield, were given their league debuts for the club in this game.

West Ham effectively lined up in a 4-2-3-1 position, with Arthur Masuaku at LB, Declan Rice and skipper Mark Noble sitting deeper in midfield and Marko Arnautovic on his own upfront. Liverpool were in a 4-3-3, with the trio of Naby Keita, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner in midfield behind their attacking triumvirate of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

West Ham had won only once in 48 previous visits to Anfield, and the first 20 minutes of this game showed that statistic was unlikely to change for the Hammers. The Reds’ fluidity of passing and movement caused problems galore for the Hammers, with the trio of Rice, Noble and Wilshere simply outrun in midfield. Liverpool had 70% of the possession in the opening 18 minutes before they scored the first goal- a fantastic piece of skill that tore West Ham’s defence apart, and richly deserved given the Reds’ dominance in the game.

With Roberto Firmino also dropping into the right, Rice was caught out of position as Trent Alexander Arnold’s bullet pass found Naby Keita in acres of space. Liverpool’s new signing merrily dribbled his way forward before finding Andy Robertson on the left and the defender’s simple cross was poked in by Mo Salah as the Reds deservedly found themselves 1-0 ahead.

Naby K

West Ham did much of the defending, but there was one area where they did better than the Reds- the number of attacking corners. It was on one such corner though that Liverpool scored their second. It was in first half extra time, and while the Hammers did reasonably well to defend Liverpool’s initial counter attack, they failed to track Milner’s run at the far past, and the midfielder slid it back for Mane to stab home from close range.

Rice was hooked at half time, with Pellegrini sending Snodgrass in. It didn’t help too much- Liverpool were 3-0 up eight minutes into the second half, although replays showed West Ham were a bit unfortunate as goal scorer Mane was clearly offside.

Marko Arnautovic, who was reduced to feeding on scraps all afternoon, went off injured. In came Andriy Yarmolenko, but there was little he could do to change the scoreline, with Liverpool well and truly in control of the game. Daniel Sturridge then came off the bench for the Reds to add a fourth in the 88th minute, scoring with his first touch of the game.

It was the fourth consecutive time Liverpool had scored four goals over West Ham. Poor Lukasz Fabianski had conceded five on Boxing Day when he visited Anfield in Swansea colours, and despite his best efforts, had to ship in four in this one.

Liverpool 4-0 West Ham (Salah, Mane x2, Sturridge)

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