West Ham 0 - 2 Liverpool
Reds: Salah (pen) 35’, Oxlade-Chamberlain 52’
Liverpool enter the night needing just 9 wins to ensure their first league title in 30 years. The Reds will hope that number is 8 after the final whistle. However, the Reds dropped points at the London Stadium last year, and they’ll be without Sadio Mane. Plus they’ll be against old foes David Moyes and his 12th man (Jon Moss). All of that said, anything less than three points will somehow be disappointing, even in this season where we’ve rarely tasted anything other than victory.
Liverpool are controlling things early doors, and very nearly fashion a great chance after Georginio Wijnaldum plays in Divock Origi. However, the Belgian appears to get caught in two minds whether to shoot or cross to Mohamed Salah, and hits a weak shot/cross at the West Ham keeper.
With 15 minutes gone, West Ham manage to construct their first real attack of the night (which is correctly flagged offside). Moyes has set up exceptionally defensive, going with a 5-3-2 shape. They might be slightly tricky to break down, but the hosts cannot get out of their own half so far.
Andy Robertson nearly opens the scoring after brilliant pass by Salah to play him in on goal. However, Robbo’s finish didn’t quite have enough pace on it, and a defender was able to clear it off the line. More play like that please!
Robertson once again playing creator, this time sending in a tantalizing cross that both Origi and Salah had a chance to poke home, but neither striker could sort their feet to give that decisive, final touch.
Penalty! Firmino does brilliantly to keep the ball in play, and then pick out Origi in the middle of the box. Origi is fouled about 15 times as he tries to fight through traffic and goes down under heavy contact by multiple defenders. Jon Moss has no choice but to give the pen.
GOAL! Mo steps up to the spot and sends Fabianski the wrong way, firing it into the bottom corner.
The first half ends with a whimper, with both sides seemingly OK with the 1-0 scoreline. It’s hard to ask for more against this defensive set up. The visitors have over 70% of the possession, and haven’t given the Hammers a sniff in front of goal. Another 45 minutes of that, and Liverpool will walk out with a hard-fought, but deserved, 3 points.
The half begins a little more open than the last. West Ham fashion a weak shot on target—but a shot on target!—and then Liverpool go right down to the other end and put a shot just wide of the target.
GOAL!! West Ham win their first corner of the contest leading to...a Liverpool counter. Salah is played through and then plays a fantastic outside-of-the-boot pass right into the feet of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He drives past a defender and slots with a cool chip over Fabianski.
Around the hour mark Jordan Henderson shows off a bit of skill before playing in Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian does fantastically well to send the defender for The Echo, and really should have scored, but couldn’t put his left-footed effort on target. A few minutes later Origi forces a diving save, and the Reds are basically pissing it at this point.
Klopp makes his first sub on 69 minutes—nice—bringing on Fabinho for Origi. And Fabinho repays Klopp’s trust by nearly creating a goal...for West Ham. He gives the ball away cheaply, forcing an Alisson save and Trent Alexander-Arnold nearly turns in the rebound, but it saved by the post.
A few minutes later Klopp hooks TAA and brings on Naby Keita, making his first appearance since his injury.
Alisson hasn’t had so much to do today, but when he has, he’s done it well. West Ham fashion a chance from a free kick, but the Brazilian goalkeeper is there to palm the effort away. A moment later Klopp makes his final sub, giving the nod for Curtis Jones for Ox.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” rings out in a mostly empty London Stadium as the clock winds down. You love to see it.
Liverpool need just 8 more wins to finally end their title drought. We’re 19 points clear, with 70 points in January. These are heady days. Enjoy every second of it, we might never see any team—Liverpool or otherwise—as good as Jurgen Klopp’s 2019/20 Liverpool side.