Liverpool came from behind to secure a 3-2 win over West Ham, ensuring they moved another step closer to the Premier League title.
Liverpool 3-2 West Ham
Premier League (27), Anfield
February 24, 2020
Goals: Wijnaldum 9′, Salah 68′, Mane 81′; Diop 12′, Fornals 55′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Denied a clean sheet for the second game in succession and while largely untested in open play, the Hammers’ targeting from corners paid dividends for the visitors.
Needed a stronger left hand for Issa Diop’s header, but made amends with his anticipation as Antonio beared down on goal in the first half and his denial of Jarrod Bowen late in the piece.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9 (Man of the Match)
After uncharacteristically struggling in the ball delivery facet of his game last time out, Trent was back to his pin-point best and was one of the standout performers.
A stunning first-time delivery on a tight angle for the opener preceded a myriad of dangerous deliveries and strikes into the box.
And his unwillingness to give up on the play ensured he was in the perfect position to tee up Sadio Mane for the winner.
He’s just 21 years old. Incredible.
Joe Gomez – 6
A rare evening where he was second-best in and out of possession.
He was first caught out for Diop’s opener at the near post before Fornals was able to drift between the centre pairing to convert their second with no pressure.
But an ambitious shot late in the piece set the winning goal in motion.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Another unsettled night for the back-line saw a number of questions asked, but the Dutchman remained strong in the air and was a threat in the opposition’s box – with a headed effort glancing off the crossbar.
Andy Robertson – 8
Like his fellow full-back, the Scot was one of Liverpool’s liveliest players having acted as a key creative outlet and defensive block.
Repeatedly shut out Robert Snodgrass and joined Trent in the assist stakes with his cutback to Salah for the equaliser, his seventh of the season.
Fabinho – 7
Combative in midfield as he again occupied the No. 6 role, but with Liverpool providing a lacklustre performance, mainly in the first term, he was tasked with a lot of ground to cover as Naby Keita struggled to offer similar support to that of Henderson.
And on just his second start in the league since his return from injury, he handled the tempo and West Ham as well as you would have liked as he continued to build up his match fitness.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Set up the perfect start with his anticipation and positional understanding leading to a sumptuous headed goal – the third of his league campaign.
As always, was strong in the challenge but, like the majority of his teammates, struggled to get the motor going in the first half but improved as the game wore on.
Naby Keita – 5
The only change on the night, with Liverpool’s No. 8 occupying the position left vacant due to Jordan Henderson‘s hamstring injury.
And on a night many viewed as an audition for the weeks ahead, it was one which returned mixed results as early positive drives forward, which proved key in the opener, were then met by slow, lethargic movements which had the manager demanding more from the touchline.
Ultimately, Klopp had seen enough and the verdict was clear as he was withdrawn in the immediate aftermath of West Ham‘s second, handing the chance to stake a claim for a spot over to Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Was the member of the front three who found the most space but often struggled to make his time on the ball count, with wayward passes handing possession back to the visitors.
Manoeuvred into the perfect position in the area for his goal, and while it was a tame effort he wouldn’t have cared as he notched the equaliser.
Sadio Mane – 7
Fresh off a frustrating evening in Madrid, the winger netted the all-important winner and had a second denied by VAR for offside.
Like Trent, refused to give up on the play and was exactly where Liverpool needed him to be – epitomising the never-say-die mentality this team possess.
Roberto Firmino – 8
The Brazilian endured a quiet evening on the ball as the visitors’ low block denied the front three time and space, but he was ever-present in his defensive duties, with his work-ethic once again unquestionable.
Did extremely well to link up with teammates when presented with a chance to do so and had a number of pops at goal but could only fire over the crossbar.
The wait for an Anfield goal goes on, but the No. 9 again showed his importance extends well beyond his name on the scoresheet.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Keita, 57′) – 8 –
Presence was felt immediately, injecting much-needed speed and forward impetus. Raised his hands for a place in the XI for the trip to Watford.
Joel Matip (on for Mane, 90+1′) – N/A –
Gave away a late free-kick to get the heart going once more.
Subs not used: Adrian, Lovren, Lallana, Minamino, Origi
Jurgen Klopp – 8
A night whereby the Reds appeared to approach it as one of their training sessions, that was until West Ham pressed all the right buttons and triggered the team into action.
Gave Keita the opportunity to stake a claim for a starting berth but would not have been too impressed with what he saw and having hinted that James Milner was to start, the No. 8 has done little to change the boss’ mind next time out.
The introduction of Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, was perfectly timed as Liverpool were unable to dwell on the Hammers’ second of the evening for too long.
Another three points closer to the title and this Liverpool side continued to show that even when they are far from their best they can still grind out results, as all great teams do.