By the time the final whistle sounded, it felt like a game that had always been certain, a victory that had always been assured. Liverpool put four past a hapless West Ham, secure in their Premier League position and ready to head off for the summer a week before the season ended. It was an easy romp; a training session.
The day hadn't started off that way, though. West Ham looked the kind of opponent that on paper has given Liverpool trouble this season, and were coming off a 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Meanwhile, Liverpool were under immense pressure to win or risk being pipped by Arsenal and missing out on the top four.
"People were obviously talking about the pressure with results on Saturday," Adam Lallana said after the match when he reflected back on an afternoon that started out with much uncertainty and pressure before ending up with Liverpool and their travelling supporters in a rather triumphant and celebratory mood.
"I felt very calm even in the warm-up and the dressing room," Lallana continued. "I felt the balance was right and we didn't have to put too much pressure on ourselves. You only have to look at the teamsheet and it had goals, creative players, it had everything really, and I felt we trusted that, we trusted our ability."
Now, Liverpool know that a victory over Middlesbrough at Anfield on the final day—with Middlesbrough relegated and having nothing to play for—will get them into the Champions League no matter what happens elsewhere. An Arsenal draw or loss mid-week would make it even more comfortable.
Third isn't entirely out of the question, either, as if Manchester City—who like Arsenal have a game in hand on Liverpool—draw one of their final two games, the Reds will only be one goal away from equalling the Citizens on goal differential. If they did that, they would then likely win any goals scored tiebreaker.
"People may say West Ham didn't have much to play for and made a few changes," Lallana added, "but we were without players as well in Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mané, and Roberto Firmino, so we were missing big players, as we have all season. It was a big pressure game but the way we dealt with it was superb."