Neil Atkinson’s post-match review after West Ham United 3 Liverpool 2 in the Premier League at The London Stadium…
LIVERPOOL weren’t good enough.
It’s a painful sentence, this kind of thing. Not good enough hurts.
But the truth of the matter is they weren’t. The question is around whether or not “aren’t” applies.
West Ham United, in this moment, find themselves in their absolute pomp. They are the best version of themselves and tonight Liverpool can’t get anywhere close to the same thing. Now we know enough, and have known enough for long enough, to know that nothing shifts a plan like a punch in the face and the opening goal is a punch in the face.
But Liverpool respond reasonably well to being punched in the face. The most disturbing period of the match from a Liverpool point of view has to be 45 to 67. At that stage they had no longer been punched in the face. They’d had chance to recover enough to equalise and further a half time. They should have been irresistible. Instead they were the opposite.
Painfully, upsettingly, simply resistible.
Resistible is awful. There was no moment between 45 and 67 where it felt like West Ham United had to give everything to keep Liverpool away, to keep Liverpool out. There were no heroics from Lukasz Fabianski. There was no moment where it felt like the whole thing could be too much to bear.
There was nothing to break any will, any certainty. There will be those, and it may include the manager, who think this is unfair, who think that you build in minute 55 from minute one. I understand the logic and the idea there, but the truth is the game demanded a certain thing from Liverpool from 45 to 67 that they simply did not show.
In amongst all of this we learned a thing or two. One was, whoever plays six for Liverpool at the moment has a bastard of a job. Fabinho got hooked around 75 and rightly so but he isn’t the first to find playing six is such a burden at times. Sadio Mane played perfectly well but we could have done with the next gear. Diogo Jota didn’t play perfectly well but we could have done with his usual extra gear of a goal.
Andy Robertson could get in at will but could never do the next bit at leisure. Jordan Henderson could dictate tempo but never quite quicken it. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had the first, second and third touch but never the fourth.
Liverpool as a whole, and Alisson Becker in particular, would regret their lack of appreciation of West Ham’s game theory around set pieces which, as a man who loves game theory, I can’t help appreciate.
There’s a league to be won here. And while Liverpool have played all the likely top five, Antonio Conte not withstanding, we need and needed that bit more.
Because what worries me, beyond Liverpool not being good enough, is that today was one of those days to be good enough. One of those days to be irresistible.
This league’s not going to win itself. And it isn’t going to offer endless chances to win it. Today Liverpool turned their nose up at one.
Other side of the international break it needs to be better and fast. Nothing lost today but worse, far worse, nothing beginning to be won.
Always be beginning to win, Liverpool.
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“Liverpool’s defenders should be shoving Antonio out of Alisson’s way. We don’t seem to be street wise anymore.”
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) November 7, 2021