West Ham 1-3 Liverpool
Premier League (21), London Stadium
January 31, 2021
Goals: Dawson 87′; Salah 57′, 68′, Wijnaldum 84′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
A very quiet night for the Brazillian doesn’t quite lend itself to a high score, but any time he was called into making an intervention, he did so without fault.
Acting as the sweeper, he was quick to clear his lines and had safe hands all night and could do little to stop Dawson’s header from close range.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Continued on with his upturn in form at Tottenham with another display which showed his return to confidence, with his attacking display a highlight once more.
He was targeted and found at times in-behind in the first half due to being isolated, but his role to set up Salah’s second was to be applauded – with the cross-field pass to Shaqiri proving to be the perfect one to capitalise on the open space.
Nat Phillips – 8
A benefactor of the latest centre-back injury saga, Phillips’ start came as part of the 12th central pairing in the league so far this season.
It was one which suited his style, with the battle primarily taking place in front and in the air – where his willingness to put his body on the line on show on set-pieces.
Importantly, he was not afraid to launch a long ball or drive it forward and while not overly tested, it will act as another boost to his confidence.
Jordan Henderson – 7
In his 286th appearance in the Premier League for the Reds, now fourth in club’s all-time list, it was a vocal and solid outing for the captain.
Passes from deep onto the chest or head of Salah in the box showed the influence he can have regardless of position and his selflessness to occupy the position continues to be admired.
Andy Robertson – 7
A regular outlet on the left, but with his usual partner in crime in Sadio Mane absent it often left him with a dead-end after taking the first touch, requiring him to look back or in-field.
Energetic as always and his headed clearance near his own goal line from Fornals was crucial, but his corner deliveries proved frustrating having failed to clear the first man.
Gini Wijnaldum – 8
After its success last time out, Gini remained as the deepest-lying midfielder and his rather quiet display in that area was all that was required as it meant he was doing exactly what was required.
The Dutchman was good in traffic, as usual, and his forays forward typically ended in either a shot, set-piece or goal for his team. The latter a result of taking the gamble and a composed finish.
And a note on his endurance, with this his 30th appearance this season.
James Milner – 7
In his third successive start, one could have thought tired legs would be at play but the 35-year-old was the one making runs into the box and throwing himself into challenges and blocks.
While not as polished as some of his counterparts, his effort was an example and he was rightly aggrieved when substituted midway through the second.
Thiago – 7
Suggestions that the Spaniard is slowing the Reds down or is changing the dynamic of the team proved baffling once more, with Thiago showing his quality once more.
There were some overhit balls and cheap fouls given away but there was an abundance of cracking forward passes to cut through West Ham to go with it, with his delivery to close the first half a highlight.
His experience and front foot approach add a different dimension and as he grows into the side, he’ll only get better.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 7
Showed glimpses of offering the much-needed creative spark which was lacking, popping up with some lovely lofted passes and ones to feet in the final third.
As the tip of the diamond, his moment of the game came with his final touch having sent the ball over the top to the feet of the No. 11 – as assists go, it was a stunning one.
For his first away start in the league since January 2019, it was a bright one.
Mohamed Salah – 9 (Man of the Match)
With a reshuffle at the top, Salah had found himself adrift of the play as the Hammers looked to close down one of the clear threats in what was a two-man attack.
But a player of his quality only needs a few half-chances before unleashing the killer blow, which he did so twice with finesse and pinpoint accuracy.
His second was the pick of the bunch, with the exquisite touch and deft finish a thing of beauty to complete a stupendous team move, taking his tally to 21 goals this season.
Salah’s prowess can often be underappreciated but that’s four seasons in a row he’s hit that target and it’s only January.
Divock Origi – 6
Origi found himself in and amongst the action but an ambitious shot early on was mixed with runs which had you urging him on to move faster or show some strength in the challenge.
The Reds’ slow build-up play did little to assist such matters in the first 45, but he had a good run early in the second in no doubt reaction to half-time instructions. The hight ended with a knock, however.
Curtis Jones (on for Milner, 56′) – 7 –
Talk about instant impact. A drive forward and composure on the ball set Salah up for his goal and his willingness to take on the Hammers’ defence was much-needed.
Roberto Firmino (on for Shaqiri, 69′) – 7 –
Like the change which came before, his final touch was one to unlock the door for Gini in what was his sixth assist of the season. Rested the legs while injecting confidence – ideal!
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Origi, 80′) – 6 –
An action-packed 10 minutes for Ox, with a brilliant flick to Firmino for the third goal met with letting Dawson slip by for the Hammers’ goal.
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, N. Williams, R. Williams, Tsimikas, Minamino
Jurgen Klopp – 9
There was trepidation heading into this one such was the results of the last month, but there was to be no need as the Reds put in a team performance to seal all three results.
Injuries have robbed Klopp of Mane, Fabinho and Matip in recent days in addition to already being without Keita, Van Dijk, Gomez and Jota, but confidence and morale is a beautiful thing and it was in abundance in the capital on Sunday.
A diamond was not predicted and it did provide much-needed control and the introduction of Jones and Firmino came at the perfect time, not something which the boss is always known for.
The Reds hit rock bottom and now it looks like we are digging ourselves out, with a recognised centre-back or not!