Two goals from Sadio Mané helped Liverpool to a campaign-starting, morale-boosting thumping of West Ham
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Here’s Andy Hunter’s match report:
Related: Sadio Mané scores twice as Liverpool thrash West Ham United
Liverpool’s last four results against West Ham: 4-0, 4-1, 4-1, 4-0.
4 – Liverpool are the only the second side in Premier League history to score 4+ goals in four consecutive games against a single opponent, after Tottenham v Stoke. Fabulous. pic.twitter.com/Byzv2Idasm
Sturridge’s goal came 24 seconds after he came on.
James Milner has said some stuff. He said his stuff very quickly, so I only really got about a third of his words down. Still, here they are:
There’s always expectation. Everyone wants to get off to a good start and we managed to do that. It was a pretty good performance, we can always improve but it was a good start.
Keita’s a good player, you can see that straight away. He’s only going to get better. Coming into a new team and how we play, it’s not easy to learn. It’s a fantastic start. He’s a ball-winner, he’s got fantastic ability. He’s top quality and it’s more competition for places which is exactly what you want. It’s a great squad, and exactly what we want.
With only two teams yet to play, Liverpool are top of the table!
So Liverpool are still good, then. West Ham will have to be judged another day, though they will have to have another think about how they defend crosses.
90+4 mins: Henderson slides the ball to Shaqiri, running alone into the area and with a wonderful chance of capping his debut with a goal, but the linesman’s flag is raised. And that’s that!
90+3 mins: West Ham pass the ball harmlessly around the back-line as the seconds tick away.
90+1 mins: There’ll be some three minutes of second-half stoppage time.
90 mins: Robertson lifts the ball to Sturridge, in a puzzling amount of space in the penalty area but running away from goal. He stops, turns and skews a weak shot goalwards that Fabianski stops.
Sturridge comes on, runs into the area, Milner takes a corner and it comes off a defender’s head and is turned in by the new man at the back stick!
87 mins: One final substitution, Salah coming off for Sturridge.
83 mins: Yarmolenko crosses from the right and Alisson, rather than catching it, decides to push it along the ground and up the middle of the pitch, and is lucky that it rolled between two West Ham players rather than straight to either one of them.
82 mins: Robertson tries to pass to Salah, inside the area, but the enthusiastic Shaqiri stretches to reach it instead, and pokes it through to Fabianski.
81 mins: A delay while a young intruder runs onto the pitch to have a chat with Salah. And then a further delay while Mané is taken off, and Shaqiri replaces him.
80 mins: Salah’s backheel finds Wijnaldum bursting into space. Does he shoot or pass to Mané? Shoot or pass? Pass or shoot? You can almost hear the cogs whirring inside his head as he mulls it over, before being dispossessed, decision still unmade.
78 mins: The ball briefly visits Liverpool’s half, comes forward again and Robertson’s cross slides just beyond Salah.
78 mins: Liverpool win a corner, from which Keita attempts a shot from an absurd angle, wide on the left of goal, and spears it hilariously wide.
76 mins: A good few minutes for West Ham, though what I mean by this is that they’ve had the ball in their opponents’ half for some of it, not that they’ve ever looked like scoring.
72 mins: A first slip-up from Alisson, who scoops a pass straight to Yarmolenko. Fortunately the West Ham player is wide on the right and thus far enough away from goal for defenders to sort out the situation.
72 mins: Snodgrass executes a tasty backheeled 1-2 completion with Fredericks, but from an offside position.
71 mins: A succession of free kick awards with added substitutions has taken the fluency out of the game. “Wilshere and Noble there with the rare double sack knack,” notes JR. “Good strategy by Liverpool to disable their opponents. Maybe more teams should try that.”
69 mins: Firmino’s race is run, as Liverpool bring Jordan Henderson on in his place.
68 mins: Liverpool win a corner, which Mané heads over the bar.
66 mins: West Ham make their final change, bringing Yarmolenko on for Arnautovic.
65 mins: Milner’s free kick hits Noble hard in the groinal area and rebounds to Salah, whose shot hits Wilshere in a very similar place. The referee calls the game to a half to give them both time to recover.
64 mins: Balbuena tries to help out Mike Shepherd by fouling Mané for what should have been a second yellow card, but Anthony Taylor keeps his book in his pocket.
63 mins: Alexander-Arnold’s cross finds Wijnaldum with a great chance, but this time the flag is raised. “Arthur Masuaku seems to be wearing his socks pulled up over his knees in a sort of Robin Hood Men in Tights style,” writes Mike Shepherd. “Really distracting me from the game since I noticed.”
62 mins: Another West Ham substitution sees Felipe Anderson go off, and a splendidly goateed Chicharito come on.
60 mins: Liverpool have the ball on the left. This time West Ham’s high line restricts the amount of space they have to play in and eventually the home side are forced to play it back to their defence. So it’s not all bad.
55 mins: Balbuena gets a little overenthusiastic in the challenge and is booked.
And another! Absolutely no pressure on the ball as Milner passes to Firmino and the Brazilian advances towards the area. Having said that, West Ham’s high line catches Mané a good yard offside when the ball is poked through, but there’s no flag, and the forward spins and shoots low past Fabianski!
52 mins: Antonio is booked for fouling Alexander-Arnold as he tries to win the ball back on the edge of Liverpool’s area.
51 mins: Salah ignores an easy defence-splitting pass to Mané to run at the penalty area himself, and gives the ball away.
49 mins: And they could have scored! It’s flicked on by Felipe Anderson at the near post, and Antonio contorts himself to volley over the bar at the far post.
49 mins: This might just be West Ham’s best period of the game, and they have a corner to show for it.
46 mins: Peeeeeep! They’re off! Again!
One team change at half-time, for West Ham: Robert Snodgrass is on and Declan Rice is off.
The second goal highlighted the problems that West Ham’s defensive positioning is causing. They’re trying to hold a high line when Liverpool have the ball in wide areas, and on a couple of occasions doing so has caught players offside or allowed Fabianski to come out into empty space to claim, but it’s a terribly dangerous tactic against a team as good as Liverpool and when they get it wrong it basically giftwraps goals.
45+2 mins: And that second goal has put a rosy sheen upon an impressive opening period for Liverpool.
In the last seconds of the half, Liverpol grab a second! As Robertson crosses the West Ham defence pushes up, but when Milner breaks their trap four forwards are alone and unmarked in the area. Milner volleys the ball back across goal, and Mané turns it in!
45+1 mins: There will be one minute of stoppage time, or thereabouts.
45 mins: A chance suddenly opens up for Liverpool, as Noble (I think) miscues a pass onto the head of Mané, who heads it forwards for Salah to scurry onto, but Fabianski gets there just in time.
44 mins: “West Ham seem to have all the fight of a ball of yarn in a roomful of kittens,” suggests Hubert O’Hearn. They’re actually battling pretty well, I think, but once you have 10 players defending it becomes extremely hard to attack.
39 mins: West Ham’s 5-4-1 formation currently involves having 10 players within 35 yards of their own goal-line at all times, and Arnautovic hopelessly lonely on the half-way line.
37 mins: Great save! Another fine Liverpool move ends with Firmino being played in on the right of the area and crossing low to Salah, five yards out, who sidefoots into Fabianski!
37 mins: Liverpool have the ball on the left. West Ham have eight outfield players inside their own penalty area and only two people to mark, but despite that Salah gets his head on the cross when it comes. It’s a weak header, though, and Fabianski collects.
34 mins: Liverpool have had 62% of possession so far, in what has been an extremely encouraging start to the game.
32 mins: Alexander-Arnold’s crossing has been a bit wild so far. He scoops another centre straight out of play.
30 mins: Liverpool lose the ball after running into the referee just outside their own area, and a moment later it’s at the feet of Arnautovic, who shoots wide.
28 mins: Still, that’s two efforts on goal from West Ham in the space of a minute, which will sort out any overconfidence in an increasingly rampant Liverpool.
27 mins: West Ham have a chance! A long ball from defence finds Arnautovic just onside, running behind Gomez, but the defender gets back to divert the shot wide. Felipe’s Anderson’s corner is headed straight at Alisson by Balbuena.
25 mins: Keita gets the ball 25 yards out and dances past three opponents and into the box, where he runs into a cluster of players. It breaks to Wijnaldum, who shoots wide.
24 mins: Save! Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick is beautifully flighted and heading right into the top corner, but didn’t have the power to beat Fabianski.
24 mins: Noble tackles Firmino 10 yards outside the penalty area, but then unfairly stops him from getting away again. Free kick.
22 mins: Alexander-Arnold has been booked for, in his efforts to hold Felipe Anderson at bay, pushing his palm into his opponent’s face.
21 mins: Now Salah runs down the right, but he’s forced onto his right foot and his pass inside towards Firmino was feeble.
The breakthrough! Keita brings the ball from midfield towards the area, passes to Robertson on the left, and his low cross is turned in by Salah at the far post!
18 mins: How did that stay out? Milner’s excellent cross from the right flies just beyond the reach of Salah, surprising Firmino just behind him, and then bounces too high for Mané.
15 mins: Close! Milner, under no pressure, lifts the ball over West Ham’s defence and only just beyond the reach of Mané, bursting into the box.
15 mins: Salah sprints forward to lead a Liverpool break from a West Ham corner. He pokes it to Mané, who is dispossessed on the edge of the area by Felipe Anderson, who had sprinted the entire length of the field to do the honours.
13 mins: Liverpool push forward again, but Salah is offside when the ball is worked to him inside the penalty area. The weight of possession is very heavily in the home side’s favour so far.
12 mins: As Liverpool prepare for a goal kick West Ham push up, shadowing all the players offering Alisson an easy, short option. So he passes to Salah in the centre circle instead.
8 mins: A nice Liverpool move. Keita passes to Salah on the edge of the area, and he passes forward to Firmino, but Antonio gets back excellently to get in the way.
6 mins: Alexander-Arnold’s decent left-foot cross from the right is pushed clear by Fabianski, though most of Liverpool’s attack was offside.
4 min: A frantic pace so far, but no significant penalty-area activity.
1 min: Keita’s first touch in English football involves a no-look backheel flick to Robertson on the left.
1 min: And they’re off! Milner gets the game started.
The teams have been turned round after the coin toss, so Liverpool attack the Kop in the first half. Ready to go now.
And out of the tunnel they come!
The players are in the tunnel!
Manuel Pellegrini speaks:
We changed a lot of players, we started a new project. You never know when you bring new players in the way they will adapt, but I have a lot of trust in them. We worked very hard during the summer, and finally we decided with these players West Ham will be a competitive squad in the Premier League. We cannot pretend to be fighting for the title, but at least we will be a team with a style of play, that will try to be as high in the table as we can be towards the end of the season.
A good stat here from Sky Sports. It’s four years since Wilshere last started a league game in August, and it’s a feat he’s managed only three times before.
Jack Wilshere makes his West Ham debut – the 4th season in his senior career (debut 2008) that he has started a PL game in August (also 2010, 2013, 2014) pic.twitter.com/dx23Q0hmtt
Liverpool’s subs’ bench for their last game of last season: Mignolet, Clyne, Klavan, Moreno, a half-fit Lallana, Can, Solanke. Liverpool’s subs’ bench today: Karius, Clyne, Fabinho, Henderson, Sturridge, a fully-fit Lallana, Shaqiri. That’s a significant upgrade, is it not?
So we get a first look at Alisson and Naby Keita, as well as five of West Ham’s 10 new signings. Here’s the Press Association’s take on the teams:
Liverpool gave debuts to £65m goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Naby Keita for their Premier League opener at home to West Ham.
Jurgen Klopp’s other two summer signings, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, were on the bench. Joe Gomez was given the opportunity to start alongside Virgil van Dijk in defence, with centre-backs Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren all unavailable.
Jürgen Klopp has a chat with Sky:
I think in pre-season you have to create a basis. That’s what we did. We trained hard, we played football games, we were close to our fans in the USA, that’s all you can do in pre-season. Now the real job starts. Focus, concentration, readiness, greed, all that stuff. We should be ready, but it’s completely different. West Ham have a pretty new team, a few nice and especially quick additions. So we need to really concentrate.
The team sheets are in, and these are the names upon them:
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita, Wijnaldum, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mané. Subs: Karius, Clyne, Fabinho, Henderson, Sturridge, Lallana, Shaqiri.
West Ham: Fabianski, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Rice, Fredericks, Noble, Wilshere, Masuaku, Antonio, Felipe Anderson, Arnautovic. Subs: Zabaleta, Snodgrass, Adrian, Obiang, Hernandez, Yarmolenko, Diop.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Our first @premierleague line-up of the 18/19 season. #PL debuts for Alisson and Keïta…#LIVWHU pic.twitter.com/dQ8NUxdwzN
5️⃣ new signings in our starting line-up! pic.twitter.com/2A8WR21Xo2
Nobody will form a definitive judgement of Liverpool if they win today, but there will certainly be bold some statements made if they lose. Widely seen as the team most likely to stop a second City procession, the pressure will be on them from the start. After summer strengthening in all the right areas, the world expects fantasy, fireworks and lots of goals.