Liverpool came from behind to defeat West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday afternoon, here are five talking points from the victory and performance.
The Europa Effect
This was the first time that Liverpool have recored a victory following a midweek Europa League match – the eighth attempt. Let’s be honest, this was not a vintage performance and we looked tired for long periods of the game. Having said that, we coped well with West Ham’s physical style and the victory is sweeter for that. It is nice to finally win a game having not played particularly well.
With no Europa League now until February, Liverpool can hopefully profit from having domestic focus and the distraction of European matches removed.
Jose Enrique appeared to have picked up a muscle injury, a common problem for teams playing with only 48 hours rest after a game. There are definitely some players, such as Raheem Sterling, who could benefit from a rest.
The fact we did win though, and in doing so recorded our first come-from-behind away victory since 2009 perhaps shows the work of recently appointed sports psychologist Steve Peters at Liverpool. Recent games have seen Liverpool displaying good mental toughness and positive belief in their methods.
After the game Jonjo Shelvey said “The longer the season goes on, the stronger we’ll become.” And so far the results are proving similar. Liverpool are on an upward curve.
Rodgers not afraid to change the game
Just as against Everton and Chelsea earlier in the season, Rodgers again showed he isn’t afraid to make changes to the team and shape. His decision to bring on Jordan Henderson was rewarded with Henderson again impressing and setting up the winner. And then to bring on Coates to see out the game with three at the back and to counter West Ham’s aerial bombardment.
Premier League is weak
For all that Sky Sports will try to tell you how the Premier League is the best League in the World (TM). It clearly isn’t. Liverpool have won 5 games this season – and are incredibly just four points off a Champions League spot. With favourable fixtures over the festive season (Villa (h), Fulham (h), Stoke (a), QPR (a), Sunderland (h)) the new year could see the table looking much more pleasant.
It has to be said. Our captain has not been effective for quite some time now. With Suarez out today it was pondered that Gerrard may be moved into a more advanced role, as Rodgers hinted at in pre-season, but he again was used in midfield. His own goal was due to him being the wrong side of the West Ham player. 15 minutes earlier he allowed exactly the same to happen on a free-kick into the box – but started berating somebody else when it was him who had lost his man. Will Rodgers have the cojones to drop/rest the most influential Liverpool player of the last two decades? With Lucas now back, and Henderson performing, the option is there.