The mighty Reds manage three consecutive league wins for only the second time this season, and the first time in 2023, deservedly, if somewhat belatedly, getting the best of a West Ham side that scored their very first shot, then only managed three in the next 65 minutes.
In any other year, this would have been one of those games in which you know Liverpool will pull out the win eventually, but given the proclivities of the team this season, fans will be inclined to fret, and a very late West Ham surge nearly gave them reason to.
In the end, though, it’s another three points well earned and won, and the Reds climb to sixth place, bypassing Tottenham on goal difference, and sneaking within six points of top four, albeit with one and two more games played then Newcastle and Manchester United, respectively.
Below then, we take a look at some of the winners and losers on the night, and may even give some credit to the officials(!)
Set Pieces: After all three goals against Nottingham Forest at the weekend came courtesy of set pieces, one could be forgiven for thinking a regression might around the corner, but instead Liverpool looked deadly from dead ball situations once again, with Joël Matip’s thumping bullet header coming on the very next corner after the previous one nearly ended in a go-ahead score.
It also marked Andy Robertson’s 57th Premier League assist — a significant number of which have come from the Scot’s set piece deliveries — taking the fullback past Eric Cantona and into 25th place in the all-time rankings. Not bad for a Queen’s Park youth product.
Playmaker: We’re not gonna make too much of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s assist tonight — it was a nice enough pass, but Cody Gakpo finding the bottom corner from 25 yards was by far the most impressive and important part of the play — but after a whole year of team-mates failing to convert his deliveries into goals, Trent has now racked up five assists in his last four games, which is nice.
While this recent boost does coincide with the fullback’s transition into a deep inverted role, it is unlikely there’s much in the way of causation; Trent had only managed two Premier League assists all year up until the Arsenal game, but those had come from an expected assists tally of 6.3. The last five assists have come from an expected assists tally of 2.4. In short, he’s remained one of the best creative players in the world even in a year where the only thing anybody’s wanted to talk about is how bad he is.
With that said, Trent is definitely influencing games from his new role, racking up incredible amounts of ball control and passing, and tonight he was even more mobile than usual, drifting all the way to the left-side half space when Fabinho floated further up the pitch. It’s also the third match in a row where he leads the team in ball recoveries, as he’s constantly in possession to pick up loose and second balls as teams look to hit the Reds quickly in transition.
There are still questions to be asked about the system — Trent’s landlocked central position means the right-side rotation only contains two players, which leaves Mohamed Salah desperately uninvolved or the team lacking any width on the right flank, for instance — but the Reds’ number 66 appears to be growing into his particular spot, if nothing else.
VAR: Good again tonight. Correctly scratched off Jarrod Bowen’s delightful finish after the winger had strayed a foot or so offside, and didn’t — despite the desperate pleas of the commentators — force an intervention into what was, by the current rules, not even a debatable handball on Thiago as West Ham pushed for a late equaliser.
Big Kav: I spend a lot of time criticising referees on here so it’s only right I give some credit when it’s due. Chris Kavanagh was good tonight. Possibly could have booked Vladimir Coufal for smashing his hip into Diogo Jota’s kidney with no chances at the ball in the first half but otherwise managed the game well, handing out zero cards without letting the match devolve into a brawl.
Diogo No-ta: After scoring four in his last two, Jota missed two sitters tonight, and if he’d tucked them away the match and scoreline would have been a lot more representative and comfortable than they ended up.
Chelsea: Lol. Lmao. Closer to relegation than Europe. They weren’t part of this match, of course, but it’s still worth — or at least a lot of fun — highlighting just what a delightful mess they are.
What Happens Next
The Reds host current Crisis Club Power Rankings No 2 spot holder Tottenham on Sunday, led by Ryan Mason after Daniel Levy sacked his second manager of the season, a perfect set-up for calamity. Spurs will also play Manchester United before then, and despite most likely having eliminated themselves from Champions League contention by conceding over 50 goals in 32 games, the London club may still have a say in how the top four shakes itself out.