After having won the game by a margin of four goals, here, I decipher three reasons why Jürgen Klopp’s side emerged victorious in their first match of the season.
#1 Midfield Creativity
There was certainly a vast difference of the quality in midfield as Liverpool’s high press coupled with their tendency to recover the possession in advanced positions troubled the West Ham players.
Moreover, unlike many teams, Liverpool managed to maintain their level of intensity throughout the course of the game and that helped them outpace the Hammers.
Naby Keita dominated Declan Rice, as James Milner drifted into wide positions to send testing deliveries into the box. The Liverpool’s midfielders combined well together to execute their gameplay.
The pace at which the proceedings progressed from central areas meant that the Hammers did not maintain many stretches of possession, and eventually ended up having just 35.2% of the ball. Overall, Liverpool provided a good supply line for their forwards to thrive in.
#2 Patterned attacking moves
Liverpool manage to maintain a certain cohesion in their offensive endeavours, often causing the opposition issues due to the fact that they have equal threats coming from both the flanks.
The whole team played like a well-drilled unit, with each player knowing their duties with and without the ball.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was a menace down the right flank, as he overlapped and operated on the space created by Mohamed Salah’s inward movement. Roberto Firmino dropped into the central attacking midfield position and that allowed Salah and Sadio Mane from the left wing to drift inside the box.
Though West Ham looked adept in outnumbering the three forwards inside the penalty box, their resilience did not last long and certain glitches in Manuel Pellegrini’s tactics became apparent.
Liverpool maintained and continued their momentum in the second half, and their well-planned offensive moves helped them thoroughly dominate the Hammers.
#3 West Ham’s flawed style of play
Liverpool tend to gain an early lead and keep building on the momentum until their energy drops in the final quarter of the game. It would have been wiser to absorb the waves of pressure implied by Klopp’s side and then to hit them on the break or through a direct route.
However, the Hammers applied a high line, something that allowed their opponents to get behind them and exploit the spaces created due to lack of positional discipline of the West Ham defenders.
Salah and Alexander-Arnold’s intelligent movements on the right-wing allowed them to free up and then either dribble inside the box or to provide a mean cross for Firmino or Mane.
Moreover, the lack of energy from West Ham’s midfielders did not allow Felipe Anderson to work on the ball for a longer period.
Pellegrini is an astute tactician, and he must have had his own set of reasons to approach the match in the way they did. However, it is clearly apparent that a team must adopt a more conserved, pragmatic approach to counter Liverpool’s style of play.