Reds “the ultimate 90-minute team” in victory of belief – Media on Liverpool 3-2 West Ham

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The media felt Liverpool’s 3-2 win over West Ham showed why the Reds have strolled to Premier League glory as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won the midfield battle.

The Reds battled past a spirited Hammers side on a rollercoaster night at Anfield, meaning just 12 more points are needed to secure the big prize.

Sadio Mane’s winner completed a fine second-half comeback to ensure Jurgen Klopp’s side once again got the job done on a surprisingly tough evening.

Liverpool’s incredible resilience and relentlessness shone through, as they earned a record-equalling 18th consecutive league victory, which was also a 21st straight home win.

Here is all the key analysis from the post-match reports in the media.

 

Reporters explained how it was a win that epitomised why Liverpool have strolled to inevitable title glory…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 24, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (L) celebrates scoring the first goal with Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty assessed how the ability to win when not quite at their very best has allowed the Reds to set a pace no other side could maintain:

“Liverpool have produced months of thrilling football but this inevitable title triumph has also been about winning with narrow margins when just short of their best.”

On a night the Reds profited from a stroke of fortune Neil Jones, for Goal, explained how it is Liverpool’s relentless endeavour that has brought about the favourable breaks throughout:

“Yep, there was fortune, but that’s Liverpool too. They earn it. Even when they’re down, they’re never out. Even when they struggle, they succeed. They are never afraid to roll the dice, and more often than not the right number comes up.”

ESPN’s Mark Ogden explained how the Reds’ consistency in turning tight games into narrow wins has been inspired by the bravery, know-how and resilience in performances:

“Liverpool have discovered the crucial knack of always finding a way to win.

“They have not blown teams away this season, but they have overcome all of them, with the exception of Manchester United at Old Trafford, but even on that occasion, they dug out a late equaliser because they are prepared to take risks to get something from games.”

McNulty also wrote how Liverpool’s “unshakeable self-belief” has been the biggest factor of all behind the incredible surge to the title:

“The great quality of this Liverpool side, and make no mistake they got lucky with Fabianski’s howlers, is that they are currently driven by an unshakeable self-belief and the error for Salah’s goal tipped the balance firmly in their favour.”

And Jones labelled the Reds “the ultimate 90-minute team” in reference to the way Klopp’s men have given everything in every moment of every game in this quest for Premier League glory:

“Liverpool did what they have done so often; they found another gear, they put the pressure on and they got their rewards. The ultimate 90-minute team.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 24, 2020: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates with Georginio Wijnaldum during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ogden wrote how a combination of all those factors meant a Liverpool comeback felt inevitable and he had nothing but praise for how Klopp’s team are making such extraordinary feats seem routine:

“Even the extraordinary is beginning to seem routine for Jurgen Klopp and his players.”

The Mail’s Ian Ladyman noted how it was fitting Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson inspired the turnaround given their remarkable campaigns as Liverpool’s playmakers:

“It is at moments like this that teams of champion class look to other dimensions.

“The full backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson were the ones who provided it. The metronomic accuracy with which two deliver from the wide areas still doesn’t fail to astonish, even as Klopp’s side on the threshold of history.”

 

Journalists also thought the performance was not at the usual elite level and offered analysis on why that was…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 24, 2020: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle thought a lack of intensity contributed to a surprisingly sloppy showing:

“Certainly, the intensity for which Klopp’s teams are renowned was strangely lacking for a good hour.”

Jones thought the midfield was “too open” throughout and didn’t provide enough protection to the defence:

“The midfield was too open and defensively West Ham were able to cause more issues than most, Moyes included, would have expected.”

ESPN’s Tom Fenton was critical of Liverpool’s finishing and thought that contributed to fuelling West Ham with belief:

“On another night where the European champions flattered to deceive at home, the fact that they covert good openings in the first half will be a source of massive frustration to many.

“Alexander-Arnold created numerous opportunities from set pieces but the plethora of wasted chances gave hope to West Ham, who in turn punished lackadaisical Liverpool defending.”

The Mirror’s David Maddock pondered whether an element of complacency—as a result of being so far ahead at the top—is starting to contribute to a drop-off in performances:

“The last week has shown that they are in fact human though, and given that everyone seems to have universally accepted that they will be Premier League champions then you have to wonder if a bit of complacency has set in amongst the players.

“You could certainly forgive them if it has, given their incredible record this season, yet here they were grinding out another win again in what was another triumph of their determination.”

 

The media reflected on a game of two midfielders, assessing that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain outshone Naby Keita…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 24, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Mark Richards thought Keita failed to take his big chance to impress, noting that the No. 8 was unable to “exert any authority on the midfield”:

“This was a big game for Naby Keita in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson, but the midfielder failed to take his chance to exert any authority on the midfield.

“The Guinean is clearly blessed with ability, but in a crowded midfield he couldn’t quite summon up the ability to take the game to the visitors.”

The Evening Standard‘s David Lynch assessed Oxlade-Chamberlain’s introduction as the moment which swung the game and believes that the Englishman’s impact should see him recalled to the starting XI as Keita’s expense:

“[He] turned the game in Liverpool’s favour after replacing Naby Keita. His drive through the middle was everything Liverpool lacked before his introduction.

[…]

“It is, of course, easy to get caught up in the emotion of a come-from-behind victory and consider this evening’s events as decisive proof that Oxlade-Chamberlain, not Keita, should be the man to replace Henderson over the next three weeks.”

Meanwhile, McNulty thought it was a night which highlighted Jordan Henderson’s importance to Liverpool’s midfield:

“Liverpool missed the driving force and leadership of injured captain Jordan Henderson and it was no surprise when Naby Keita was substituted after a poor performance.”

 

Certain journalists thought the display showed areas for the Reds to perfect in order to maintain the fight for more silverware…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 24, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Richards pointed out that Klopp’s side need to tighten back up on set-pieces after back-to-back games conceding from corners:

“Just as against Atletico Madrid last week there was another sloppy goal conceded from a corner by Liverpool, for whom Alisson could have done better from Diop’s header.

“Plenty will probably be tempted to go overboard and paint defending from set-pieces as a weakness for Klopp’s side, and although that would be an exaggeration, the last week should sharpen minds ahead of the Atletico test they must pass.”

And Maddock thinks Liverpool need to work on maintaining intensity in games against ‘blanket defence’ opponents, especially with the make-or-break second leg with Atletico Madrid looming:

“In recent games against sides committed to blanket defence, and it has to be said some unsavoury spoiling tactics, that trademark intensity and drive has been missing.

[…]

“You know sides will defend, you know you have to be patient, and that can ratchet down the intensity.

[…]

“And while the title remains won—with just four wins required now—Atletico and the Champions League is an altogether different story.”

 

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