Karl Coppack’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 3 West Ham United 1 in the 2023-2024 Premier League season…
ON Thursday this week I am going to the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Brahms. Home. I have no idea about Brahms.
Thursday tends to be my long day and because it fits I thought – what would be nice to do? What would be a little bit of a luxurious treat? I chose this from time to time because within 30 minutes walk up the hill from our office one of the very best orchestras in the world does its thing and who am I not to go. The very best. In the world.
An hour walk from our office we have Anfield. And today Liverpool faced West Ham United. And, you know what, there are a lot of issues with the Premier League and how the money works, but what it means is that the 22 players who turn up at Anfield today are simply the very best.
I loved today. I loved them. I loved us. I loved the quality. Loved Paqueta. Loved Bowen. Loved Alvarez. They are one of the best 20 teams in the world, you know. Mad but true. And they have a go.
It was a great game of football. The idea of that has almost gone out of fashion – we’re meant to be tribal to our toes. And I am, I’d give thumbs to win a league and other various organs, but today I was taken with the fact that this is just the best. The very best.
Look, I think we’re capable of everything, you know. We go there together. We take steps. We make progress.
This Liverpool is a good work in progress. It has great promise. It has absolutely solid assets. It has Mo Salah for goodness sake. It has Alisson Becker. Pretty flawless in goal and getting there upfront. Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez get hooked when Klopp starts the rolling subs in the final quarter of the game and they walk off side by side with the pride of a job well done, but we have to think there is further for these two to go. Progress.
We love a great front three at Anfield. Options left, right and centre. Goals from all sides. Nunez, Diaz, Salah. The latest magic three. Looks good so far with the pace of the two younger players enabling the mad skill of the third. All hail. The Reds are coming.
West Ham are a tall side, a Moyes side, but so are we – the very best: two big, physical sets of lads. Big hefty footballers who play a physical game, who sit behind the ball when they need to and take their chances when they can. When Liverpool lose concentration, West Ham make the most of it.
This is what happens in the first half.
The referee is very clear that Liverpool are owed a penalty and Mo Salah scores the most certain penalty you have ever seen in your life. But the Moyesball is getting to Liverpool. Mac Allister loses the ball under the forceful challenge of more experienced players like Soucek. Liverpool’s new midfield is a work in progress. Dealing with this game in the first half never looks impossible for The Reds, but it looks like they are learning.
And their excellent press, doubling up to take on all comers, learning never to let anyone go, creates the ever so slightly wild conditions for Bowen’s equaliser.
It’s a good header. It comes at a great time for them in the 42nd minute, not least because between 35 and 40 they looked cooked.
But you can see the ingredients for a Liverpool win here – they looked cooked, for one. Curtis Jones looks extremely up for it and has shades of a Steve McManaman pace feeding the front three. His front to back link-up play with Andy Robertson and Luis Diaz is lovely to see.
Darwin Nunez has given West Ham massive grief in the first half and it comes as no surprise that it is he who regains the lead for The Reds come the 60th minute. The incredible pace of he and Luiz Diaz is not to be reckoned with. How many times has David Moyes seen this now? How many times have Liverpool’s more skillful, more creative players danced around his flat defensive teams?
At what point does the country clock it? Liverpool have the best attacking options on the planet. All at the top of my road. Honestly – a joy to be alive.
They come again and again, this Liverpool. Dominic Szoboslai is everywhere and a crazy defensive attacking shape is brought by the experience and risk-bearing duo of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez. While others are learning how to be Liverpool players these two have it printed on their hearts. If in doubt, attack. They drive the ball forward, and when Antonio is subbed on the 74th minute Joel looks even more relaxed in his role.
For the final quarter it is almost as if Klopp is offering up the chance for the bench to be a part of it. Like an artist who is trying out a new box of paints, he puts players on the pitch – win seemingly secured – to see what looks good. What sings out.
To be expected, Jota, then. He loves scoring goals. Four minutes after gracing the field he lifts us all. The ball was close to the goal again and again, Darwin missed a sitter, plenty had chances, but Diogo is the one.
Well played, Jürgen. The art of being a football manager is the craft of learning. Who can do what, who can grow, who can help others grow. Constant mixing and remixing of the paints. Enough change and enough constant. This game we watched them learning to play with each other. Finding a way through, crafting a way to win.
David Moyes leaves Anfield today having lost again. But his team is a good one, full of possibility and delight. So is ours. More possibility, more delight, more paints and more mixes of paints.
More potential for me to see you just there, just by the office, just at the top of the road, to see you there and grab you, because Liverpool can be the very best. The very, very best. You know it. I know it.
Onwards and into these. Let them be good. We shall be better.