West Ham vs Liverpool: Five things we learnt

West Ham's commitment to attacking, a successful midfield diamond, where does this leave Andy Carroll, Liverpool defensive woes continue, Reds attack blunted

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The Independent Football

West Ham were superb from start to finish as they beat a lacklustre Liverpool team 3-1 at Upton Park.

The Hammers scored inside 90 seconds through Winston Reid before Diafra Sakho's chip - which may have been a cross - found the far corner.

Liverpool came back into the game through Raheem Sterling on 26 minutes, and while they huffed and puffed for an equaliser they never created chances of real substance. West Ham defended well and Morgan Amalfitano ended the tie as a contest, latching on to Stewart Downing's through-ball to score.

This is now a third defeat in five for Brendan Rodgers' side and last season's surprise package - a team who came within two points of lifting the Barclays Premier League title - need to find a solution quickly.

West Ham's commitment to attacking

The West Ham hierarchy made it clear to Sam Allardyce this summer that he had to improve the style of football his team played if he were to stay in the job. Big Sam has certainly done that; not just the lightning start that shocked Liverpool, West Ham played neat passing football all afternoon and may have had more than the two goals they finished with. This is a much different team to last season's plodders and West Ham should target a top 10 finish, at least.

 

Midfield diamond

Much of West Ham's dominance came from the superb performances of their midfield quartet. With Mark Noble at the base of the diamond, Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate providing the legs and Stewart Downing instrumental in an attacking midfield, the four bettered Gerrard, Henderson and Co.

Noble, the skipper who watched so many balls sail over his head last season, was superb in breaking up the play and always finding the correct pass, while Song looks a massive coup; he adds a quality and physical presence superior to that provided by Mo Diame last season. Stewart Downing, meanwhile, provided two assists and looks a completely different player to the man who put in cross after cross to last season to very little result.

Andy Carroll

But where does all of this attacking play leave a certain £18million striker? Carroll's presence in the team last season was a major part of West Ham's willingness to look long; he is a master at flick-ons and knock-downs. But Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho, with their pace, energy and movement, caused Dean Lovren and Martin Skrtel problems all afternoon - those two would have relished dealing with Carroll over the two who played.

Allardyce has a major decision to make when Carroll returns to first-team action.

carroll.jpg
Andy Carroll will be out until December with an ankle injury

Liverpool defensive woes

Another game and another poor performance from the Liverpool defenders. Lovren and Skrtel are yet to gel as a pair, while the Winston Reid opener was a masterclass in bad marking from  set-piece.

Full-backs Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno are good in possession but lacking on the back foot - the Reds looked stronger after Sakho was introduced and Rodgers switched to a 3-5-2 formation. Liverpool were far from their best today, and managers and teams can't prepare for a two goal deficit within the first seven minutes, but the first and third goals stemmed from truly sloppy defensive play.

Blunted attack

Fabio Borini was a non-entity for Liverpool and his time on Merseyside is surely coming to an end. Mario Balotelli had some good moments - creating a yard of space for himself before almost finding the bottom corner a highlight - but the Italian is far too static to have an impact over 90 minutes, he drifts in an out of matches.

Liverpool were always going to miss Luis Suarez (and the injured Daniel Sturridge) but the void they have left may be bigger than previously thought. Adam Lallana is still nursing his way back to fitness and while Raheem Sterling was Liverpool's best performer, he always looked threatening without ever creating something clear cut. Brendan Rodgers appears not to know what his best XI is at the moment, he will need to find a solution soon.

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