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West Ham 1 Liverpool 3 (Jan 31 2021)

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Dave Usher

 

Another great win. Two in four days. Things are looking up again. West Ham were riding high in the table but I think we all know they’re one of a few teams in a false position and that come May they’ll be scrapping for 8th or 9th with Everton. Still, they’ve been in good form recently and given the players we had missing this was really impressive from us. 

 

The points are obviously welcome but just as in midweek against Spurs it was the performance that really gives cause for optimism. We’re looking like we’re back in the groove again now, and we’re doing it with makeshift looking line ups. No Sadio, Bobby on the bench and a central defensive pairing of Henderson and Phillips. Yet we made this look easy.

 

It was complete domination and from the moment we finally opened the scoring the result was never in doubt. The only negative was we didn’t get the clean sheet the lads at the back deserved.

 

We did all the damage in the second half but but I thought we played well in both halves, just in different ways. The second half was brilliant, obviously, but I was relatively pleased with the first half too. We didn’t threaten enough but that was partly due to the way we kept the ball and controlled the game. That seemed to be the focus.

 

I don’t mind that in our current situation. Don’t give the opposition any reason to think there’s something in the game for them and then gradually turn the screw. Maybe West Ham fancied their chances ahead of this one but you’d never have guessed based on the performance and the longer the game went on the less belief they had. 

 

It’s easy to say it looked like they didn’t believe they could win or that they didn’t have a go, but I don’t buy that at all. West Ham’s lacklustre performance said more about us than it did them. What was different in how West Ham played the game to how any of West Brom, Southampton, Newcastle, Burnley or Man United approached it? Nothing at all.

 

None of those teams ‘opened up’ and had a go at us either. Not really. Some were more adventurous than others but the gameplan was more or less the same. Defend in numbers, stay in the game and hope for a counter attack or set-piece. Unless you’re Man City, that’s how you play against us because it’s the only approach that gives you a chance. Going toe to toe isn’t an option for anybody else.

 

Moyes is getting a load of stick for not going for it but the truth is he did nothing differently to Sean Dyche, who came away from Anfield with an unlikely (and undeserved) win. He was no more adventurous than Moyes, he just got lucky and Moyes didn’t.  Same with most of the others who got results against us. None of them did anything that differently to Moyes.

 

The only team I can think of that actually had a right good go at us (not counting the Villa debacle) was Fulham and even that was only for half an hour until we forced them back for the rest of the game. West Ham didn’t have a go at us because we didn’t let them and because if they had really tried to open up and attack us they’d have got their arsed handed to them.

 

Look at what happened for the second goal. They’d had a little spell of pressure, had a couple of sights of goal and their tails were up. They get a corner and 10 seconds later the ball is in their own net. Not for the first time either as we seem to punish them like this every season. No wonder they’re scared to open up!  

 

The narrative on Sky prior to the game (and afterwards for that matter) seemed to be all about how we “were there for the taking” and that Antonio should be “licking his chops” about facing Henderson and Phillips. It was a bit weird I thought, especially as even Souness was buying into it. I kept having to check that we were playing West Ham and not 1970 Brazil.

 

Yeah, we all had a concern about Antonio against Big Nat. So what? I’d have had concerns about Antonio against any of our defenders other than Virgil because he’s really fucking hard to play against. He gives everyone problems, so Nat was obviously going to have his hands full.

 

Was that really the biggest ‘key to the game’ though? It’s still West Ham versus a vastly superior team, irrespective of our makeshift defence and the current state of the table. Anyone who saw the game the other night must have known that we’re much better than them. Moyes defo knew. Attacking us was not the smart play.

 

All due respect to Antonio, who I like a lot, but it was just weird listening to the way our chances were being talked down. All we heard was how West Ham’s height on corners was going to be decisive and that Phillips and Hendo would be over-run by Antonio.

 

I’ll tell you what I thought when I heard that. I thought it was the kind of lazy shite we’d hear when teams faced Barcelona with Mascherano at centre back. I’m not comparing us in our current situation with that Barcelona team, but the point remains the same; they can’t hurt you if they can’t get near you.

 

West Ham obviously did have an edge in height and would be a threat from corners (and yeah, they scored from one late on). So you know what you do to counter that? You keep the ball, don’t let them near your goal and restrict the amount of corners they get.

 

And yeah, Antonio could have joy against our high line and if he got one v one against Phillips it would be a problem. So the answer to that is don’t allow them to play that ball that gets him in behind.

 

And we did both of those things brilliantly. In the first half we just dominated the ball and smothered West Ham. They had one or two excursions into our box but mostly we just passed it around and didn’t give them a sniff. Antonio wasn’t a factor because Nat did everything right and those in front of him completely closed off any option for West Ham to play him in.

 

 

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Apart from being a fat cunt Moss 'only' did one mistake - Soucek kicking Hendo in the head and not getting a second yellow - especially galling when in was jabba the moss who sent of Sadio at City for foot up against Ederson.

 

 

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True, but I don't like players getting booked for that in general as he had to try and go for it.

 

There was also the one on Origi that led to the Antonio chance. Usually that's given as a free-kick but again, I probably would have let that go as Dawson got the ball - just.

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I also think that pundits don't factor in how draining it is for teams to chase and close us down for 45/60 minutes, particularly on a big pitch like that one. They are bound to slip off a bit physically and mentally later on.

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Spot on Dave. I keep reading people saying Phillips and Williams are too slow or worse, championship players at 'best.' The pair of them havent done anything wrong in games Ive seen them play. There's this shit about them same as Hendo used to get because he wasnt Steven Gerrard. Nat and Rhys arent Virgil but loads look at them in that light.

 

We've got a squad and it's been stretched at times this season. But that's supposed to be how football works not FIFA 2020 or whatever. I love seeing these young lads get their chance which reminds me, loads used to say about giving them a go then when we do, we should be buying better replacements for them!

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They had 6 or 7 set pieces (including corners) in decent areas before we went 2 up so I don't think its too much of an exaggeration to say they could have a major impact on the game. They had 5 or 6 lads bigger than our tallest player, its very rare you come up across such a mismatch. Ogbonna wasn't mentioned at a single corner and he must be 2" or  3" bigger than Phillips. Soucek is a huge threat, as predicted by me Pulis's lad scored, thats before you get to Rice and Antonio. 

 

I was confused by their approach to these, I can't have been the only one who breathed a huge sigh of relief when their first corner went short.  The other ones came into the box at pace with precise targets,  I thought they would lump speculative high balls to the back posts and create havoc with knock downs which seemed the obvious thing to do, they would have had Rice against Thiago type match ups. Moyes is such a cuckold though, his prematch interview was Roy against Northampton stuff. Mentioning us being European champions, what is that shit when you want to instill belief in your team?

 

On to the most get it out of the way fixtures for many a season. Just get Brighton beat and move on. If we can beat City and Pep has one of his too cool for skool days were he tries to be too clever then I can see them imploding. He's done it so many times in big European games, he's moved away from the tried and trusted to some fancy Pep masterclass. I think it took their players a few months to get over Lyon, their manager lost them a great chance to win the European Cup by being to paranoid. More of that please Pep.

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35 minutes ago, dockers_strike said:

Spot on Dave. I keep reading people saying Phillips and Williams are too slow or worse, championship players at 'best.' The pair of them havent done anything wrong in games Ive seen them play. There's this shit about them same as Hendo used to get because he wasnt Steven Gerrard. Nat and Rhys arent Virgil but loads look at them in that light.

 

We've got a squad and it's been stretched at times this season. But that's supposed to be how football works not FIFA 2020 or whatever. I love seeing these young lads get their chance which reminds me, loads used to say about giving them a go then when we do, we should be buying better replacements for them!

How can you say Williams hasn't done anything wrong? He's made a couple of seasons worth of errors, only been punished for one.

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We weren’t especially dangerous ourselves either and that was why Klopp changed some things at half time. He said the three midfielders were all behind the ball too much which meant Shaq had no-one to pass to when he turned.

 

That wasn’t really what I saw if I’m honest, as I thought Milner made a lot of runs ahead of the ball. And considering Klopp said afterwards that he had to tell Milner at half time to stop running forward (to protect a tight hamstring) it doesn’t really tie in with his explanation of what changed does it? 

 

I'm just guessing here now but maybe it wasn't the fact the fact that they were not making 20/30m runs ahead of the ball into the box like Milner did a few times in the 1st half. Maybe it was that they were not moving 5m ahead of the ball when Shaq got it so we could break the midfield line of West Ham and on to their back 4. Like when Jones got the ball for the 1st goal. He didn't receive the ball static and behind the pass. It was on the move and aggressive. 

 

It got Rice and Soucek turning instead of everything in front of them or the CBs dealing with the clipped pass into the box that we have tried a lot over the past 5 weeks - mostly unsuccessfully. 

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Good reading that dave lad as per usual. I liked the look of that Dawson lad, good player and good attitude. I was thinking he'd be alright with us at the moment. Shaqs Cross on the run was unbelievable and mo"s finish was very special. 

Great result, feels really good now. 

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5 hours ago, dave u said:

True, but I don't like players getting booked for that in general as he had to try and go for it.

 

There was also the one on Origi that led to the Antonio chance. Usually that's given as a free-kick but again, I probably would have let that go as Dawson got the ball - just.

He got the ball, then his foot went over the top of it, studs high. His follow through took out Origi. Against anyone else,  it’s a yellow card (‘reckless’). Against us, it’s fair game.

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6 hours ago, Razoray said:

We weren’t especially dangerous ourselves either and that was why Klopp changed some things at half time. He said the three midfielders were all behind the ball too much which meant Shaq had no-one to pass to when he turned.

 

That wasn’t really what I saw if I’m honest, as I thought Milner made a lot of runs ahead of the ball. And considering Klopp said afterwards that he had to tell Milner at half time to stop running forward (to protect a tight hamstring) it doesn’t really tie in with his explanation of what changed does it? 

 

I'm just guessing here now but maybe it wasn't the fact the fact that they were not making 20/30m runs ahead of the ball into the box like Milner did a few times in the 1st half. Maybe it was that they were not moving 5m ahead of the ball when Shaq got it so we could break the midfield line of West Ham and on to their back 4. Like when Jones got the ball for the 1st goal. He didn't receive the ball static and behind the pass. It was on the move and aggressive. 

 

It got Rice and Soucek turning instead of everything in front of them or the CBs dealing with the clipped pass into the box that we have tried a lot over the past 5 weeks - mostly unsuccessfully. 

Font rep.

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17 hours ago, dave u said:

True, but I don't like players getting booked for that in general as he had to try and go for it.

 

There was also the one on Origi that led to the Antonio chance. Usually that's given as a free-kick but again, I probably would have let that go as Dawson got the ball - just.

I agree in principle, but it is just another example of the inconsistancy (i.e. bias) of these refereees.  If that was one of our players in their box doing the challenge then Moss would have had no hesitation pulling out another card.

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19 hours ago, sir roger said:

I also think that pundits don't factor in how draining it is for teams to chase and close us down for 45/60 minutes, particularly on a big pitch like that one. They are bound to slip off a bit physically and mentally later on.

Great point this. The camera went on Declan Rice just after the hour mark and my lad said he’s  exhausted there. Went back on him a couple of minutes later and he looked like he couldn’t breathe. 

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On 02/02/2021 at 00:28, Shooter in the Motor said:

 

Agreed. This was great because you could the players talking to eachother after the goals. You could hear Hendo the whole way through, but even little things like Curtis saying "hey, hey, wow!" was just class. 

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