Following a dominant if somewhat dissonant and ultimately disappointing scoreless draw against rival Manchester united on Sunday, and with a visit from league leaders Arsenal coming up on Saturday, many questions surrounded Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter final with West Ham tonight. Most prominently, how seriously would Jürgen Klopp take the competition and how aggressively would the club prioritise their league campaign.
As it turned out, the Reds are in the Carabao Cup to win it, and went with something approaching a full-strength XI against the Hammers. The result was a supremely commanding win over an outmatched opponent that eventually finished with a scoreline representative of the gap between the two sides.
Below, then, we take a look at some of the winners and losers on the night.
Scousers in Our Team: Giving Harvey Elliott the title of honorary Scouser — a fair tribute to a lifelong supporter who appears to love the club, the stadium and the fans as much as any Kopite does — the local lads put on a show tonight.
Between them, Jarell Quansah, Curtis Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Harvey scored two goals and produced three assists, generating 15 shots and 10 key passes along the way. Given that three of the players are local lads who have traversed the academy system and the fourth was Bosman signing arriving for a symbolic tribunal fee, all that production came in at a whopping £4.3m in transfer costs.
Given the financial realities of trying to compete with oil clubs of indefinite means and corrupt organisations entirely disinterested in upholding their own rules meant to curb the spending power of same, the ability to produce home-grown talent is essential to Liverpool’s chances of sporting success, and in the quartet that dominated tonight’s game, they’ve done about as well as one could have ever hoped.
Aged 20, 22, 25 and 20, respectively, the four are in it for the long haul as well, and whether they form the spine of the starting XI for the next decade or merely remain elite squad players, they provide the club with the sort of leeway that allows Liverpool to splash on superstars in the Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Dominik Szoboszlai mold.
Goal Glut: It’s been a while since the Reds produced a truly dominant win, particularly one that had a scoreline to match, a fact that has inevitably lead to some fairly unhinged takes in both the online and real life fan spheres. As such, it felt good to properly thump somebody again, and West Ham proved willing victims.
Hopefully — although they will undoubtedly face tougher challenges in the future — Liverpool can build on both the performance and result, mounting the title challenge it appears they might be capable of.
David Moyes: In 21 attempts across three clubs, David Moyes has never won a game at Anfield. Since leaving Everton, he has lost nine straight. For a side that sits eighth in the Premier League — albeit on a suspicious goal difference — the Hammers did not appear to have much in the way of faith or a plan to take on the Reds.
The visitors failed to put the Liverpool backline under any sort of pressure out of possession, with the home side waltzing through the centre of midfield seemingly unopposed time and again, could not deal with the Reds’ counter pressing whatsoever, completing only 219 passes at a 72% success rate, and generated absolutely nothing in attack, taking only two shots in total on the night.
In truth, it was a discreditable display against a Liverpool team that has shown itself vulnerable to aggressive pressing and decisive physicality in the recent past, and the Hammers found themselves incapable of producing either.
What Happens Next
The Reds host top of the table Arsenal on Saturday in what could prove a critical fixture in the Premier League title race, before they travel to 19th placed Burnley on Boxing Day, hopefully with a league lead to defend.