Soccer

Red In The Face

A carbon copy of the stat line that saw Slaven Bilic sacked, West Ham lost 4-1 to Liverpool. The game was similar, speed and skill in Liverpool’s front three dictated the play and poked too many holes in an already shaky defensive line for West Ham. With goals from Emre Can, Mohammad Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, West Ham were merely another victim to the Liverpool machine. Frustrating for fans, frustrating for players and frustrating for the manager, this match left every West Ham supporter red in the face.

Lets look for positives first, of which there were few. As predicted, Marko Arnautovic kept his form up as West Ham’s lone offensive threat in the first half. He spun a terrific shot at keeper Loris Karius who managed a terrific save on a looping chip that was deflected off the ball. As well, he scorched in a shot that was curling into the net before Karius again foiled the opportunity. He is absolutely impressive with his work rate and his ability to mix power with a delicate, fine touch. A mainstay in the first team, without a doubt.

Now for the negative, of which there was plenty. Specifically Patrice Evra, Cheikhou Kouyate, James Collins, and Joao Mario were atrocious. Evra, who saw his first game action and start for West Ham looked his age completely. Often drifting out of position and not marking his man along the wing, Evra getting the start was a gamble that did not pay off. Personally I think it was a terrible spot to start him for a multitude of reasons. He was involved in a racial incident with Luis Suarez in a Man Utd vs Liverpool match, which saw Evra get booed whenever he touched the ball. As well, 36 years of age, in first team action for months, and he is tasked with marking Mo Salah – it didn’t make sense.

Kouyate looked like his old self again. Recently having returned to form, Kouyate was a mess in the midfield against Liverpool. Outmatched with pace and touch Kouyate could not hang with the likes of Can,  Milner, and Oxlade-Chamberlain. With the ball on his foot he often coughed it up far too easily, or slung it downfield in a panic. He also picked up an early yellow card in the match that dictated a reduced physical role he could play for the rest of the match. He is purely surviving on a lack of options, but Josh Cullen deserves starts over him at this moment.

James Collins is an unusual name to see in the negative column, but Liverpool picked on him at will in this match. The problem is that he is playing far too many minutes, and in consecutive games than he is capable to. His position moving forward should be a depth option or late game sub, which is why another year extension makes sense for him. His speed is not high enough to catch the likes of Salah and Mane, and it was well on display. Then, out of fatigue or panic he would launch the ball back to the halfway line and give up possession with better options around him. If anything, Collins was a victim of team selection more than anything, but he did not impress at all in this match.

Finally, the last name in the (overly) bad column is new loanee, Joao Mario. This match was really his first bad game for West Ham, but there were silver linings within it. He started in an in between role under Lanzini but above Noble and Kouyate, with Arnautovic above everyone else. His touch was bad, often giving the ball away in what should have been promising positions. What was positive about his game was the amount of touches he had and how often he seemed to find himself with the ball on his foot. I’ll chalk this performance up as a one time flop, but realistically Lanzini should be in the outlet attacking mid role, with Mario and Noble in central midfield.

West Ham just need to brush off the performance. They were out matched skill wise, out managed, and out paced throughout the game. What they would have needed was had defensive structure, but too many mistakes allowed for Liverpool to capitalize offensively. This should be taken as a wake up call as West Ham face off against Swansea next week, a matchup that is a must win for West Ham.

Come On You Irons!
-Adam

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Avid fan of West Ham United, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Vikings, and Toronto Blue Jays. Involved in all things sports from playing (poorly) to tracking on twitter, my love for the teams I support tends to bleed into all aspects of my life!

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