West Ham 1-3 Liverpool: Five talking points as Mohamed Salah’s double downs Hammers

Mohamed Salah was, yet again, Liverpool’s match winner as they saw off West Ham.

The Hammers presented a potential banana skin for a Reds side who were once more forced to deal with mounting injury problems.

There was no Sadio Mane, no Fabinho, but no matter as the Egyptian came up trumps.

A cagey first-half meant chances were at a premium with Salah partnered in attack with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri.

But the Liverpool forward scored twice in the space of 11 second-half minutes to take the game away from the hosts.

His first was an excellent curling effort while his second rounded off a devastating counter attack.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored Liverpool’s third before the Hammers got a late consolation courtesy of Craig Dawson.

Here are five talking points from Reds’ win.

Mo Salah grabbed two of Liverpool’s three

1. Salah rises to the occasion

That man again steps up when his team need him most.

He was without his two usual partners in crime from the start but again underlined his importance as he ended a six-match run without a goal.

VAR denied him in midweek, but he wasn’t to be denied in London again.

When Curtis Jones played him the ball on the left the Egyptian still had plenty to do. Not to worry though as he dropped his shoulder before curling past Lukasz Fabianski in the West Ham goal.

One quickly became two as the forward confidently finished off an impressive counter.

There’s no doubt that Salah can be frustrating – both for fans and his team-mates – but certain things you just have to put up with.

His strike in the capital means he has now scored 20 times in each of his four seasons at Liverpool.

The Reds battled past their injury problems
The Reds battled past their injury problems

2. Champion mentality

All the stats and figures will tell you this is one of the more impressive West Ham sides of the Premier League era.

The same stats and figures will tell you that, whilst Liverpool are the champions, they are missing a host of key players and are vulnerable.

A winning culture though is something no numbers can account for.

Winning at the London Stadium is something Man City have failed to do this season.

In the wind and rain though Liverpool put in a performance that every champion side needs to put in around the midway point of the season.

They weren’t at their best, they were missing players, they didn’t sparkle all game, but they’ve left with all three points.

A makeshift defensive pairing was again needed

3. 12 is the magic number

Everyone knows that a champion side often have a preferred centre-half partnership that forms the foundation of their success.

So it underlines Liverpool’s injury problem when you realise that Klopp named his 12th different centre-half partnership this season.

Injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have forced the Reds to seek alternative solutions.

But with Fabinho also out this weekend it meant their skipper had to team up with Nathaniel Phillips.

The lack of continuity is of course a problem, something Klopp conceded before kick-off.

Fabinho and Matip’s partnership is the one most regularly used, having been deployed six times.

West Ham failed to take advantage of their opponent's injuries
West Ham failed to take advantage of their opponent’s injuries

4. Hammers pass up opportunity

Only last month did West Ham have the chance to underline their improvement when they visited a Chelsea side who had suffered successive defeats.

They ended up losing 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, but have gone unbeaten in their seven game since.

Today was the latest assessment for a side who are threatening to take advantage of the uniqueness of the season.

Moyes said before the game: “We are a long, long way off that (competing with Liverpool), but on a one off game we can do it.”

The Scot though saw his side fail to take advantage against a Liverpool side who were far from fully stocked.

5. Thiago creating a conundrum?

It was the signing that all Liverpool fans craved in the summer. Thiago’s move from Bayern Munich represented incredible value in the current market.

The player has been hit with injuries, as has been the Liverpool way this term, which has meant we haven’t seen as much of him as we’d have liked.

His quality is undeniable, but already there are question marks.

The Reds have never been the sort of team who would dominate a keep ball contest, but they’ve been a devastating and clinical side.

Thiago’s ability to keep possession is among his strongest assets, which comes as no surprise given he played for Barcelona and worked under Pep Guardiola.

But Gary Neville said on commentary that the champions were “more silky” but lacked the punch they once did.

He isn’t the first to make that observation and it begs the question as to whether Klopp’s Liverpool do suit or need a ball-playing midfielder when you consider how devastating they were on the break.

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