Player ratings: West Ham 1-1 Liverpool

Salah-looking-despondent
After Man City slipped up against Newcastle, we had a real chance to extend our lead, turn the screw on City and send a statement out that this time, in this title race. things would be different. The question was, could we hold our nerve and deliver the performance and more importantly, the result we needed? Well unfortunately, after our last two displays, the answer was a fairly emphatic no. Let’s see how the lads fared on an individual level.

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Alisson (6) - It’s not been the best of starts to 2019 for Alisson. He has the lowest save percentage in the league since the turn of the year and his aura of confidence and authority has diminished somewhat. Made one decent stop last night, could he have maybe done more with their goal? Perhaps not but more issues with the ball at his feet as he nervously sliced into the crowd toward the end. Hopefully just a minor blip from our new keeper, who overall has been very good this season.

Milner (6) - Turned out once again in the unfamiliar right back role and managed to bag himself an assist, albeit from an offside position. Tried hard as always but he’s not a right back and we’re badly missing his influence in midfield at the moment.

Matip (6) - Decent display from Matip. Almost made a costly error when he lost possession deep in West Ham’s half but at least he was trying to bring the ball forward and make things happen which is more than can be said from the players ahead of him. We really need to keep him fit just now.

Van Dijk (6) - Virgil hasn’t been at his imperious best the last couple of games. He was reported to be unwell the week before Leicester and missed training, so it’s possible he’s not fully recovered yet. Having been an ever present this season as well, he probably needs a rest and understandably looks a little jaded. No chance for a rest for him any time soon though. Needs to get a grip of his team mates and remind them how to defend set pieces.

Robertson (6) - Robbo rounds up a complete set of sixes for our defensive players. Busy as always and got a couple of decent deliveries into West Ham’s box but like the rest of the team, looks a bit jaded. Still, if we were going to find a breakthrough last night, it looked more likely to come from the left side between Robbo and Mane, than anywhere else on the field. Can play much better though.

Fabinho (5.5) - He was ok but that’s about as good as I can describe him. Looks much better as one of two 6’s instead of playing the holding role on his own, where he frequently looks lost, as he did at times last night. Needs more work in that role in training if we’re going to continue with that formation at times.

Keita (4) - More of the same from Keita. Shows flashes of what a good player he can be but flashes is all it is. Constantly runs down blind alleys and loses the ball and on the odd occasion he does get himself into a good position, he pretty much always makes the wrong choice of pass. Repeatedly bottles it in tackles which I hate to see, just watched Antonio get away from him for the goal and in fact, there were a number of occasions that he just watched while the opponents sauntered off with the ball. Vast improvement needed if he wants an LFC future. The excuses are starting to run out.

Lallana (6.5) - Showed one of our only glimpses of quality last night, with some really nice footwork in the build up to our goal. Other than that, ran around a bit but considering how little game time he’s had over that last 18 months, he didn’t disgrace himself. His time with us will surely end at the end of the season though.

Salah (4) - Rubbish. I’ve said it before but when Salah doesn’t score, he contributes absolutely nothing. Salah has got to be the worst passer of a ball in the Premier League. Maybe even the Championship as well actually. He literally can’t make a three yard pass. The only time he looks dangerous with the ball at his feet, is when he’s in the opposition box and defenders have to stand off him. As soon as he’s outside the box and the defender can put a challenge in, he’s dispossessed. We really need him to step up his game in the coming weeks.

Firmino (4) - Was he even playing? Oh yea that’s right, he had a ridiculously tame shot while trying to be too clever, after the ball fell kindly for him. Other than that, he just spent the night giving the ball away like everyone else. Needs to take more attacking responsibility.

Mane (7) - Our best player for the second game running in my opinion. Mane is a streaky player, capable of scoring in ten games in a row and then not scoring for ten after that. He’s in a purple patch at the moment and got himself another goal, even if it should have been chalked off. Currently the only one of our much celebrated front three that’s showing any quality at all.

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Subs:

Shaqiri (5) - Has gone right off the boil in recent weeks, after a blistering start to his LFC career. Put in a similar display against Leicester from the start the other day, as he did last night coming off the bench. Personally, I’d like to see him in the number 10 role, behind last season’s front three in their positions from last season.

Origi (6) - Did alright when he came on, some direct running at the West Ham defence and had a good, albeit awkward, chance to win it at the end. Then we’d have scored two offside goals...

Klopp-watch (5) - I’m not giving Jurgen a five on the basis of last night but because of the fact everyone saw our current crisis coming. A defence full of injury prone players and squad depth we’ve all known isn’t good enough for a significant while. Add to that the decision to let Clyne go and not bring in any reinforcements in January, it’s not been a particularly good start to the year for our manager.

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Summary:

Well we had a fantastic opportunity over this past week to cement ourselves at the top of the league and increase our lead to seven points. Instead, our lead is down to three points and we could actually be second if Everton fail to take any points from City this week, albeit with a game in hand.

For me, the performances are more worrying than the results. Our play is so slow, ponderous and utterly bereft of quality and technique, the latter an accusation I’ve been making towards this squad all season. Glaring lack of technique.

I was debating with Stu and Ilija the other day, who described our play as ‘probing possession’. I’m sorry but we’re not probing, we’re just cluelessly passing the ball around. I read a stat earlier that it only took West Ham eight passes before they had their first shot and then only another eight until their second. Now can anyone say West Ham we’re just pumping the ball up the pitch in hope last night? No. They made decisive forward passes, which they created chances from and they had by far the better chances last night. The exact same thing happened against Leicester.

Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident this season. There’s only been a handful of games where we’ve looked really convincing, the rest we’ve been scraping through and frequently getting lucky, which we did again last night by being awarded a clearly offside goal. We’ve had too many displays like our last two this season and it was only a matter of time before it caught up with us.

The problem, as I’ve been saying all season, is in midfield. Absolutely no creativity and with Keita struggling badly, it’s up to our manager to come up with solutions. Hopefully he can and this is just a blip. There’s a fair bit of soul searching needing done however before our next game. If we truly want to be champions this season, then it’s time for more of our players to show the nerve, character and quality to get us there.

Anyway, Bournemouth next and it’s absolutely imperative we get all three points, as City will likely have overtaken us to top spot by then. Time to show what we’re made of. Walk on.
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