Liverpool 4-1 West Ham: Own Goal stars in Liverpool win (video)

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That’s five wins in a row for Liverpool, but they should give a bit of credit to Own Goal, who knocked in at least two, and possibly three, of the hosts’ four goals. The manner of the win will likely matter little to the Reds, however, as they’ll simply be celebrating the fact that they’ve pulled into third place.

West Ham, meanwhile, are feeling the pressure, sitting outside the relegation zone only thanks to a superior goal difference to Crystal Palace.

Both Liverpool and West Ham were sprightly in the first half, putting pressure on the opposing defense and looking for any chance to slip the ball into the back of the net. However, it took until the 42nd minute for Liverpool to break the deadlock. They’d had a good chance less than two minutes before, when Philippe Coutinho sent in a perfectly weighted ball for Raheem Sterling. The youngster probably should’ve went around Jussi Jääskeläinen, but instead placed his shot wide.

Sterling’s blushes faded, however, when Guy Demel put the ball into the back of his own net. Jääskeläinen managed to push away a sharp shot from Luis Suárez but Demel, running in to attempt to stop the damage, couldn’t put the brakes on fast enough, and wound up knocking in an own goal.

It looked like Own Goal scored another just after the restart. Steven Gerrard sent in a free kick that floated toward the far post, and, after some confusion at the back, it appeared as though West Ham defender James Collins had got the last touch. In the end, though, it was ruled that the ball came off the knee of Mamadou Sakho.

Own Goal definitely did score the third, however, and this time, it was in West Ham’s favor. Demel was involved again, sending in his cross for Matt Jarvis to get a touch. It was Martin Skrtel, however, who managed to turn the ball past Simon Mignolet and into the back of his net.

But there were no questions as to who grabbed Liverpool’s third goal. Who else, but Suárez? For his 81st minute goal, the Uruguayan, lurking by the far post, got on the end of a lovely cross from Glen Johnson to head in from close range.

Less than two minutes later, it went from bad to worse for West Ham. Captain Kevin Nolan lost his temper and, frustrated, stuck his studs in the back of Jordan Henderson’s calf. It was a straight red for the midfielder, who managed to make the task even more difficult for his struggling club.

Sure enough, the visitors then conceded a fourth, and again, it was down to Own Goal — although the beautiful footwork of Luis Suárez certainly created this one. The dancing feet of the forward turned Mark Noble inside out before Suárez fired off his shot. This time the ball took an important deflection off Joey O’Brien, wrongfooting Jääskeläinen and preventing him from stopping the goal.

Despite the victory, Liverpool can’t rest entirely easy. In the 56th minute, Steven Gerrard pulled up clutching his hamstring, and immediately signaled to the bench for a substitution. Already missing Daniel Sturridge, the Reds really don’t want to be without their captain.

Liverpool : Mignolet, Flanagan (Kelly 79), Sakho, Skrtel, Johnson, Allen, Gerrard (Lucas 56), Henderson, Sterling (Moses 72), Coutinho, Suárez

Subs not used: Jones, Cissokho, Alberto, Aspas

West Ham United : Jääskeläinen, Demel, McCartney, Collins, Tomkins (O’Brien 56), Noble, Diame, Nolan, Downing (J. Cole 46), Jarvis (Taylor 84), Maiga

Subs not used: Adrian, Collison, Diarra, C.Cole

Rooney says Man City have work to do be better than ’08 Man United

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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Perhaps it’s the bias talking from the former Red Devils star, but Wayne Rooney doesn’t believe the Premier League leaders have surpassed one of his ex-squads.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Cherries to go fourth ]

Despite Manchester City’s amazing unbeaten start over the club’s opening 18 matches, Rooney says his former rivals aren’t quite yet better than his 2008 Manchester United team that went on to beat Chelsea in the Champions League final.

“I’m not sure they [City] are quite there. They would have to keep going and do a lot more,” Rooney told TalkSPORT. “There have been so many great teams throughout the years in the Premier League. This City team needs to win trophies and needs to do it for a longer period to be in that bracket.

“The best ever? I would go with the Man United team from 2008!”

Only one Premier league side has ever finished a season undefeated in league play, which was accomplished by “The Invincibles” of Arsenal from the 2003/04 campaign.

With Man City nearly halfway to that feat, and accumulating 52 points through the first four-plus months of the domestic season, Pep Guardiola and Co. appear on track to track to break several records.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table in Man City’s world ]

However, Rooney says the balance of competitions and a tricky fixture schedule over the holiday window will make staying unbeaten an impossible task for the Cityzens.

“I don’t think they can go unbeaten,” he added. “They have done incredibly well with the run they have been on, but the Premier League is so difficult, especially now with this Christmas period coming up.

“I know they have a huge squad, a great squad of players. But there are so many top teams. I think in previous years it has been two teams and you went in knowing you would win most of the other games.

“But now there are five or six other teams that can all beat each other and I’m sure in one of those games Man City will get beaten.”

Klopp hails players in blowout, downplays squad rotation

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t bothered by Jurgen Klopp‘s squad rotation at Liverpool.

“The front four have been on fire, they are not bad,” he said after the Reds battered Bournemouth 4-0 on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

“Everyone’s a quality player and the rest of us have to sneak our noses in there. Squad rotation is important, keeps us fresh.”

Klopp was a little more critical of his squad, saying the changes had more to do with how the Reds performed against West Brom than a need to keep players fresh.

“I like them but against West Brom they didn’t hit the target. I don’t change my mind in three minutes, but we have to be consistently good because we are Liverpool.”

The manager especially loved how well Liverpool started, as Bournemouth didn’t have a chance to get moving. Klopp gets plenty of criticism, but he almost always has his finger on the pulse of his club. Sunday was a big win for the manager and his club, even if it was somewhat expected.

Making sense of the table in a Man City world

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There are natural advantages to being atop the table deep into a Premier League season, the most evident being the ability to enter into any match against a challenger knowing a draw will likely be fine.

But what about being ahead of the field by double digits?

Perspective is a major challenge when a team is as doing as well as Manchester City. Pep Guardiola‘s men have drawn just once in 18 matches, and hold a 11-point lead on Manchester United, 14 points better than third place Chelsea.

Speaking of the Blues, manager Antonio Conte raised an interesting point after Chelsea beat Southampton on Saturday. Conte says City’s crazy run has colored over his team’s fine results, as last season’s champions are 8-1-1 since losing two-straight in October.

[ MORE: WBA 1-2 Man Utd | Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

Four losses is four losses — United has three — but it’s an interesting notion. Both sides have lost to City at home, but otherwise will finish the weekend boasting multiple match leads on the field when it comes to second- and third-place.

Is this much different from recent years? Consider the following seasons after 18 weeks.

Remember: Manchester United has 41 points, and Chelsea 38 (And United has been missing its World XI class player for all but eight games. Some of his doing, some not).

2016-17

Chelsea led the table with 46 points, six better than Liverpool and seven ahead of Man City. Spurs, who would finish second, had 33 points with a match-in-hand. That 13-point gap closed to seven.

2015-16

Leicester was atop the table with 38 points, just two better than Arsenal and three ahead of Man City. They’d finish 10 points better than Arsenal’s 71.

2014-15

Chelsea (45 points) held a three-point advantage on Man City and 10 on third place Manchester United. The Blues would finish eight points ahead of City.

2013-14

Liverpool and Arsenal were dead even with 36 points, one better than eventual champions Man City. The title winners finished two ahead of Liverpool, four free of Chelsea, and six past Arsenal.

So… both United and Chelsea would be leading the Premier League in two of the past four seasons, which is certainly notable.

I don’t want to belabor the Pogba point too much, especially since the most recent absence comes from a red card suspension, but what if United had him for all those matches? Do they find a goal in the 0-0 at Liverpool? Get a point from the 1-0 loss at Chelsea? Flip the script on the 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town?

Let alone the City loss.

But again, seasons like this one from City remind us of the challenges of framing seasons when one campaign is oh-so-dominant.

Liverpool mashes Cherries

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  • Coutinho, Salah score beauties (video)
  • Cherries winless in six
  • Reds unbeaten in nine
  • Robertson key on left side

Liverpool ran a red-hot first half to an easy 4-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho scored highlight reel goals, with Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino pitching in flying headers, as the Reds moved into the Top Four with 34 points.

Bournemouth sits 16th, a point ahead of the relegation zone, and witnessed a match much different than last season’s 4-3 win over Liverpool at the same venue.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Joe Gomez curled a shot wide of the goal in the fourth minute. A Nathan Ake foul six minutes later gave Liverpool a free kick just outside the 18, and Philippe Coutinho struck a sweet effort off the inside of the post… and out.

Coutinho nearly put a chance home moments later, so it was not surprise when he scored the match’s first goal. A mazy dribbled past two Cherries ended with a shot across his body and inside the near post. Wonderful stuff. 1-0.

Lovren had 2-0 within six minutes, hitting the deck with a diving header goal after Roberto Firmino saved a corner kick on the line at the back post.

Jermain Defoe timed his run well for a 1v1 with Simon Mignolet, but his shot caromed off the far post.

It would’ve been 3-0 were it not for an outstanding reaction save from Asmir Begovic as Mohamed Salah attempted to cap off a terrific team play in the 43rd minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Salah got his goal in stunning fashion, bodying off a defender before dribbling past two more to finish with an off-balance belt past Begovic.

Substitute Ryan Fraser had a chance to pull one back in the 56th minute, but rang it wide of the near post.

The Reds raised their advantage to four on another Robertson started move, with Firmino heading a Coutinho cross beyond Begovic.