Liverpool's performance against West Ham was not what fans wanted to see, but what many of them feared. Defensive frailties were brutally exploited by the Hammers, who saw only 37% of possession, but made the most of their chances. Not even the protection of Lucas Leiva, returning to his role in defensive midfield, did much to help Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, both of whom had their worst games of the season. After the game, Brendan Rodgers spoke about his disappointment in the team's performance after conceding the first goal in the third minute.
"We were disappointing," he said in the post-match interview. "We arrived into the game with confidence high, but when you give away a goal so early it gave West Ham the boost and the lift that they needed. They've shown in the two games they've played away from home that they can sit in and defend well in a low block, and that (the first goal) set us back a bit. Then obviously we conceded a second goal, which was difficult to take, and all of a sudden we are right up against it. Then Coutinho gets sent off and sets us back further.
"From that first period of the game, we never really got going."
Conceding an early goal always puts pressure on a team, especially at home when their opponents will be content to sit back and defend their lead the way that West Ham did. In order to address this issue after half time, Rodgers brought Alberto Moreno on for Emre Can, in order to go three at the back and utilize Moreno and Clyne as attacking wing-backs.
About this decision, Rodgers said, "The key was going to be getting the ball to the sides, to exploit the sides of the field, and the gaps in between. The gaps were there. Analysing the game and preparing for the game, we can see that, but of course taking it onto the field it's much more difficult. I felt in the first half, especially on the sides, we never really dominated that area to combine and get in behind, and that led to us not creating so much."
Still, despite the poor result, Rodgers feels confident that the team will learn from these mistakes and improve in the coming games.
"The overall performance, with and without the ball, will be much better in the future. Up until today, the morale and the confidence has been high. We know today a lot of it was self-inflicted. We gave poor goals away, but I am lucky that I work with a very honest group. We do a lot of analysis and work on the training field, and we will get ready for the next game.
"At this level, you have to be able to bounce back, and that will be the job in the next game."
It certainly will, because the next challenge they face after the international break will be a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, and without key player Philippe Coutinho. Many of the problems with Liverpool's back line last season have resurfaced again, and fans will have to wait and see whether Rodgers can find a way to address and rectify these systematic issues, and have their fingers crossed that it will happen in time to take on their Manchester rivals.