Liverpool – West Ham was a tight, tense clash which the reigning champions edged thanks to a late winner from Diogo Jota.
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Boy, were they made to work hard for it.
West Ham took the lead through Pablo Fornals but Mohamed Salah equalized before the break and Jota struck late on.
Liverpool have now equalled their club-record unbeaten run at home in the league, as they’ve gone 63 games without defeat at Anfield. With Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Joel Matip out, their defense held firm with debutant Nathaniel Phillips shinning.
3 things we learned
1. Shaqiri, Jota stand tall: They changed the game when they jumped off the bench with 20 minutes to go, no doubt, and in terms of Shaqiri, it is wonderful to see him fit and in full flow. Jota has looked razor sharp since he arrived from Wolves and he’s now scored in three-straight games and is staking his claim for a starting spot. But where do you slot those two in? What we are seeing is Liverpool’s second string attackers looking sharper because they are playing regularly with the squad rotated due to European and PL action. Liverpool now have to figure out how to keep them sharp, as Firmino, Salah and Mane are almost undroppable but perhaps they can now be rested more often. Jota and Shaq took the game away from West Ham.
2. West Ham have gone full-Moyes: The Hammers were good value for a point but they didn’t get it. They ran out of steam in the second half and that was perhaps because Michail Antonio was out injured and couldn’t get them further up the pitch and his hold-up play was missed, as Liverpool kicked on late on. Still, a run of four unbeaten games before this promising display shows that the 5-4-1 formation is working well. They’ve gone full-Moyes.
3. Phillips a star; Gomez’s form a real concern: Nat Phillips was brilliant on his Premier League debut, heading clear on multiple occasions and a towering header in stoppage time to clear a corner summed up his display. The 23-year-old didn’t let anyone down and with Fabinho, Matip and Van Dijk out, Phillips staked his claim to be given an extended run in the team. The academy product who has spent most of his career with the reserve squad (and on loan at Stuttgart last season) was solid. Joe Gomez wasn’t, and this is a reoccurring theme, as his header straight to Fornals for West Ham’s goal summed up his recent displays. Error strewn. Klopp needs more from Gomez to shore Liverpool up defensively.
Man of the Match: Nat Phillips – What a debut from Phillips, who was chucked in at the deep end and swam. The center back did all of the simple things well and he’s worked so hard to get to this chance. He took it with both hands.
West Ham tested Liverpool center back Nat Phillips on his Premier League debut, as they whipped in a cross from the right after a quick free kick but Phillips headed clear.
Moments later there was nothing he could do about West Ham taking the lead. A cross from Arthur Masuaku was poorly cleared by Joe Gomez straight to Fornals and he controlled and fired home to give West Ham a surprise lead.
Jordan Henderson smashed a shot just wide after a rapid beak form Sadio Mane caused problems in the West Ham defense, then Andy Robertson volleyed over from the edge of the box as Liverpool built up a head of steam.
Salah won a penalty kick just before half time as Mauskau caught him in the box — Salah made sure everyone knew that with his reaction — and the Egyptian star slammed home down the middle to make it 1-1.
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In the second half West Ham were a threat on the break as Masuaku crossed for Fornals but he stretched to get an effort on goal which Alisson saved.
Liverpool huffed and puffed as they tried to get a winner, while the Hammers always looked likely to cause problems as Andy Robertson blocked a shot from Fornals.
At the other end Robertson was denied by Lukasz Fabianski as the game opened up late on as Salah slashed a shot wide.
Liverpool thought they had gone 2-1 up late on as Jota surged forward after a break led by Xherdan Shaqiri and his cross to Mane saw the latter have a shot blocked, but Jota then finished… however referee Kevin Friend looked at the VAR monitor and judged that Mane fouled Fabianski after his initial save and the goal was ruled out.
Then the winner arrived thanks to Shaqiri setting up Jota, again, as the former slotted the ball though to the latter to finish, as Mane was stood in an offside position but didn’t interfere with play.
Klopp punched the air on the sidelines as despite all of their injury problems, Liverpool have gone back to the top of the table with a gritty win.