Joe Gomez

West Ham 1-4 Liverpool: Salah keeps shining

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  • Reds score twice in 3 first half minutes
  • Liverpool sixth with 19 points
  • West Ham now 17th

Red-hot Mohamed Salah scored two more goals as Liverpool hammered West Ham United 4-1 at the London Stadium on Saturday in what will surely lead to more calls for Irons coach Slaven Bilic‘s job.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip also scored for the Reds, while Manuel Lanzini scored West Ham’s only marker.

Liverpool finishes the day in sixth, climbing back above Burnley on 19 points.

West Ham could finish the weekend in the drop zone if Everton beats Watford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Joe Hart made a fine intervention early, and it was Simon Mignolet‘s chance to feel danger when Andre Ayew beat him but not the goal in the ninth minute.

West Ham looked up for it until opening up for a counter after a misplayed corner kick. Sadio Mane dribbled the majority of the pitch before deferring to Salah to beat Hart.

Matip then tapped a rebound past Hart off a corner kick. Salah’s corner came off Mark Noble to force Hart’s parry. That fell right to Matip. 2-0, 24′.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lanzini bodied Joe Gomez to make it 2-1 with two slick touches, but West Ham made it 3-1 within a minute when Oxlade-Chamberlain had two cracks at Hart.

It could’ve been 3-2 through Lanzini again, but he skied his chance over the bar after a nice feed from Andy Carroll.

Javier Hernandez was pushed in the back with a chance to nod home, but Neil Swarbrick didn’t see a enough for a penalty kick.

Salah made it a three-goal cushion with his final marker of the day.

Tactics Session: Liverpool’s midfield to blame for poor defending, too

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Here’s something said by anyone and everyone who’s watched an hour of the Premier League over the last 24 months: Liverpool won’t win the PL title until Jurgen Klopp sorts out that shambolic defense.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Well, duh, and thanks for really going out on a limb with that one.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle went error-by-error in picking apart one of the Reds’ many defensive breakdowns (above video) during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. In short, Dejan Lovern, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Simon Mignolet were all guilty of critical errors as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes. There’s another group of players, though, which is worth considering as opponents continue to pick Liverpool apart on a near-weekly basis.

[ PL PREVIEW: Battle of the new bosses; Brighton vs. Southampton ]

Theory: it’s actually Liverpool’s midfield which is most responsible for this season’s repeated disasters at the back. The results are as poor as they’ve ever been under Klopp — they had the worst defensive record of the PL’s “big six” sides during Klopp’s first (partial) season at Anfield, followed by the second-worst of the six last season, and are sixth out of six thus far in 2017-18 — with little reason to expect significant change as the defensive characters remain the same. When called upon in 2016-17, again, it was simply more of the same.

The key difference being: they were better protected, thus forced into action less frequently, in the past. Whether by design or happenstance, the midfield and forward lines aren’t disrupting possession and winning the ball back as consistently as previous iterations of Klopp’s old gegenpress system. Most notably, it’s the early moments (first five seconds, or three passes) of opposition possession which haven’t been challenged with that familiar urgency.

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Take, for instance, that loss to Tottenham — while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can are probably the three most “defensive” midfield options in Klopp’s squad, they’re also the three least mobile and press-suited. Georginio Wijnaldum is often labeled an “attacking” midfielder, that what makes him perfectly suited for the transition from pressing to attacking. The same goes for Adam Lallana, who’s currently injured and gutting this side through his absence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should he ultimately end up in central midfield, is very similar in that regard. Marko Grujic, while still a relative PL unknown, profiles better as a central midfielder than the three who started at Wembley Stadium.

Without that constant on-ball pressure, Mauricio Pochettino was inspired in his tactical tweak to feature Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in a pass-heavy midfield-three, as the three on-ball technicians were able to play through the middle third of the field with very little resistance and get at the likes of Lovren, Matip and Gomez more directly. The return of starting right back Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), who hasn’t played a minute this season, will undoubtedly add a bit more mobility and athleticism to an otherwise plodding rearguard.

It’s a trend that, should it continue, will result in more and more — and easier and easier — goals conceded by the Reds.

Player ratings: Liverpool v. Man United

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Jose Mourinho will be the happier man as Manchester United struggled to get going in attack but ground out a draw at Liverpool on Saturday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The 0-0 scoreline suggests how tense and tight the game was but there were still plenty of good individual displays in a massive rivalry game where United preferred to sit back and let Liverpool do the pressing.

Below are the marks out of 10 for the players on each team.


Liverpool

Simon Mignolet: 6 – Decent stop from Lukaku in the first half. Not tested apart from that.

Joe Gomez: 8 – Joined in the attack when he could and a solid display at right back. His promising form continues.

Joel Matip: 6 – A little shaky at time with the pace of Martial and Lukaku but held his own. Forced fine save from De Gea.

Dejan Lovren: 6 – Massive overreaction to the kick to his face from Lukaku but did okay apart from that.

Alberto Moreno: 7 – A really good display from the much-maligned Spaniard. Uncharacteristically solid defensively.

Emre Can: 6 – Missed a glorious chance early in the second half. It was a tough one but didn’t sort his feet out quick enough.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 6 – Pressed high and put Herrera and Matic under plenty of pressure.

Jordan Henderson: 5 – Sort of forgot he was on the pitch. Another sub-par display.

Mohamed Salah: 7 – Created problems for Darmian in the first half and should have scored but put his effort wide.

Roberto Firmino: 6 – Struggled to get into the game but did pull a great ball back for Matip’s chance.

Philippe Coutinho: 7 – Always lively on the ball and United were scared stiff of him.

Subs
Daniel Sturridge on for Coutinho (79th minute) – 5 – Tried to get in the right positions but didn’t have enough time
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Salah (79th minute) – 5 – Couple of decent crosses but that was it.
Dominic Solanke on for Firmino (87th minute) – N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea: 8 – Magnificent stop from Matip’s shot and a calming influence for United.

Antonio Valencia: 7 – Dominant display at right back as he kept Coutinho and Firmino largely quiet.

Chris Smalling: 6 – A little bit shaky in possession but did okay. Booked for a foul on Coutinho.

Phil Jones: 7 – Another good display from Jones who showed great composure once again.

Matteo Darmian: 6 – Solid but had his hands fall with Salah, particularly in the first half. Couldn’t get forward.

Ander Herrera: 5 – Late into plenty of challenges and you can see why Mourinho has favored Fellaini over him.

Nemanja Matic: 6 – Not his best display but did a decent job of pushing high when he could and putting his foot on the ball.

Ashley Young: 6 – What you see is what you get from Young. Worked his socks off out wide but final ball was lacking

Henrik Mkhitaryan: 6 – Involved in the Lukaku chance but not much else. Unsurprisingly subbed out.

Anthony Martial: 6 – Looked lively in spells and helped set up Lukaku for his big chance. Subbed in second half.

Romelu Lukaku: 5 – A frustrated figure all game. Missed a really good chance just before half time and late on tackles with Gomez and Lovren. Isolated and first touch was all over the place.

Subs
Jesse Lingard on for Henrik Mkhitaryan (63rd minute) – 5 – Struggled to get involved in the game out wide.
Marcus Rashford on for Anthony Martial (65th minute) – 5- See above.
Victor Lindelof on for Ashley Young (90th minute – N/A

Liverpool 0-0 Man United: Stalemate at Anfield

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  • 1 win in eight for Liverpool
  • United remain unbeaten in PL
  • No win in 7 PL games v United for Liverpool 
  • 1 shot on target for Man United

Liverpool and Manchester United played out a tense, tight 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday as the home side had the better chances but failed to take them.

[ MORE: Klopp questions United’s tactics

For the first time in history there have now been four successive draws between these bitters rivals across all competitions.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

David De Gea made a wonderful save from Joel Matip in the first half and Romelu Lukaku squandered a glorious chance for United just before half time.

Jose Mourinho and United will be happier with the point as they go top of the table, momentarily, and remain seven points ahead of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool after eight games of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Liverpool started the brighter of the two teams with Salah causing plenty of problems from the right flank but David de Gea wasn’t forced into anything other than routine saves early on.

United grew into the game and Lukaku finally started to get involved, especially down the right flank and Nemanja Matic spanked an effort which flew just wide from the edge of the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

De Gea made a stunning stop before the break as Roberto Firmino‘s cross found Joel Matip but his effort was wonderfully saved be De Gea’s outstretched left foot. The follow up fell to Salah who fired home but it was all about DDG’s superb reflex save.

Lukaku was lucky to escape a booking for a cynical hack on Joe Gomez and had a great chance just before half time but hit his tame effort straight at Simon Mignolet.

There was also another flash-point involving Lukaku where United’s striker appeared to clip Dejan Lovren in the face with his boot while Lovren was on the floor.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool were by far the better team early in the second half and Emre Can had a glorious chance to put them ahead but he hooked a lovely ball forward from Joe Gomez just over.

Mourinho sent on Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford with 25 minutes to go to try and create some problems for Liverpool’s defense and spark United into life.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

It didn’t work as Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain improved Liverpool after jumping off the bench but neither side could find a winner and they had to settle for a second-straight 0-0 draw at Anfield in their rivalry in the Premier League.

Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool: Rafa frustrates former club

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Rafa Benitez took a point from his old pals Liverpool as the favorite Reds drew Newcastle United 1-1 on Sunday at St. James Park.

Liverpool rises seventh with 12 points, while Newcastle sits ninth with 10.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rafa remembered his Liverpool roots, and there was certainly a pro-Benitez buzz from all four corners of the stadium ahead of the match.

Mohamed Salah led a lightning counter and sprung Sadio Mane on goal with a fantastic pass, but Magpies keeper Rob Elliot ended up rescuing the ball after several bobbles through the 18.

Ex-Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey was back in Newcastle United’s lineup, and curled an early shot from outside the 18 into the arms of Simon Mignolet.

Shelvey cued Matt Ritchie up for a left-footed shot that wasn’t much of a problem for Mignolet.

The Reds grew into the game, and their fine attackers looked a cut above the Magpies back line (though Jamaal Lascelles stood tall at the back).

Liverpool’s mysterious finishing problems continued on a 23rd minute corner, with a post hit, a point-blank chance missed, and two more attempts off the mark.

But then, oh my, Coutinho. Given some room by Shelvey, Coutinho moved to his right and curled a near post shot past a flying Elliot and into the top corner.

Yet Newcastle leveled the score thanks to an outstanding through ball

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A Ciaran Clark error gave Sturridge an amazing chance that Elliot saved, and Salah put the rebound well over the goal.

Liverpool dodged a bullet when Sadio Mane’s raking of a boot on Joselu went unheeded, and then another when Joe Gomez just saw yellow after clattering into Christian Atsu.

The Magpies had a decent series of chances around the hour mark, but couldn’t quite orchestrate a quality final shot.

Jurgen Klopp attacked the game by tossing on Dominic Solanke and Roberto Firmino, while Newcastle’s introduction of Isaac Hayden showed a desire to see out a point.

Still 1-1 in the 84th minute, Klopp injected Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The high-priced midfielder headed an Alberto Moreno cross over the frame in the 88th minute.

Dejan Lovren partially blocked a Mohamed Diame shot off a late corner.