Liverpool 2-2 West Ham United: Five talking points from Reds' mixed performance

Liverpool 2-2 West Ham United: Five talking points from Reds' mixed performance

Liverpool's in-form striker, a horrific crossing display and Roberto Firmino make up the talking points from Sunday's 2-2 draw with West Ham at Anfield

cameronhogwood8
Cameron Hogwood

The frustration behind the phrase ‘two points lost’ in response to Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Sunday is something that can be drawn on as a positive.

Yet again it came down to costly errors that saw the Reds relinquish their dominance and more importantly their lead. It was more a case of Liverpool allowing West Ham to make a surprise comeback as opposed to the Hammers truly deserving it.

Jürgen Klopp’s men started the second-half as they had started the first, penning Slaven Bilic’s side in but this time maintaining their supremacy for a more significant period of time than they had done before the interval.

Most of the frustration towards the result is fuelled by the belief that the home side really should have taken all three points. Even if the overall team performance wasn’t to the standard it has been in recent months, the creativity in the final third was there, as it has been all season.  

The positive comes in the form of the fact that the opportunities were there for Liverpool to finish the game off.

Without Darren Randolph making an admittedly magnificent save to keep out Jordan Henderson’s stunning long-range effort, then the mood around the place would have been a whole lot different.

Divock Origi making a name for himself

What an accomplished and still constantly improving young striker Origi is turning out to be.

A goal in each of his last four games for Liverpool recognises just how well he has slotted back into this side. The attacking threat that he provides and the way his presence demands close attention from his marker makes it difficult to believe that he is still only a 21-year-old.

There is so much to come from him if he strives to continue improving and evolving his game to an even greater extent. His is by no means as dynamic as Philippe Coutinho but he is visibly putting in the effort to implement the same interchanging in positions that made the Brazilian so key to Klopp’s style of play.

His display against West Ham showcased how effective he is through the way he drifted across the forward line but without overlooking the need to ensure he was always in the penalty area at the right time.

A striker doing something as simple as getting himself in the box is so important. Origi’s most vital contribution in the game came from doing just this.

Roberto Firmino relatively quiet

A dip in form so often follows players getting their hair cut which is why so many superstitious fans will have been biting their nails over the disappearance of Roberto Firmino’s top knot.

The Brazilian has endured a couple of quiet weeks having been confronted with the task of adapting to a slightly different role.

There is only one negative associated with Origi’s place in the side and that is Firmino no longer setting up in a more central role from the start. It perhaps comes down more to him no longer being a focal point as opposed to where he is lining up on the pitch.

Rarely has he been seen coming as deep to collect the ball as he was on several occasions against West Ham. His desire to take responsibility and make a difference is great to see but the way he differed his game signified how hard he is having to work to make an impact.

In fairness to him, his teammates were guilty of missing several great opportunities to feed his runs and pick him out when he was unmarked. Setting up in a wider area is certainly not an option Klopp will be considering for the long-term. It just so happens that Firmino has the versatility and the intelligence to adjust to a change.

Crossing

Liverpool’s two goals ironically came from crosses. It would have been an even more painful watch had they not made the most of at least one cross given how many they put in during the game.

The goals aside, this was certainly an issue. Crosses were over hit, under hit, mis-directed and used when there were better options available. Other than perhaps Origi, Liverpool didn’t exactly boast an aerial advantage over West Ham anyway.

Corners will continue to be a waste for Klopp’s side if the players don’t begin to make the most of them and at least trouble the opposition from time to time. Crosses from open play are similarly becoming useless more often than not.

The intensity and flow of Liverpool’s attacking play was diminished so many times yesterday by crosses that came to nothing. Looped and tame crosses regularly resulted in a turnover in position and thereby meant the Reds had to waste more time trying to recover the ball before starting an attack from scratch. They emerged as a glimpse of desperation setting in and the players are better than that.

Gini needs goals

Adam Lallana’s return to fitness and the starting lineup means Georginio Wijnaldum has to start justifying his place in the first eleven with more goals and assists.

If he fails to do so, Emre Can steps straight back into the team without fail. The German has taken noticeable strides towards developing his game this season by adding goals and Wijnaldum must replicate this progression in an area of the game that earned him a move to the club in the first place.

The Dutch midfielder wasted potentially decisive opportunities in front of goal at the weekend. He is occupying the dangerous positions on the edge of the box and is helping to flood the opposition penalty area. All that is missing is the finish.

Mane still exciting to watch

Sadio Mane has put a few uncharacteristically lacklustre performances behind him. The Senegalese forward was Liverpool’s greatest threat by far on Sunday and the man that looked most likely to unlock the away side’s stern defence.

His sheer pace, movement and confidence in his own touch and ability on the ball proved to be pivotal in the Reds controlling proceedings after half time.

As exciting as he was to watch when running directly at his defender, the regularity at which he picked up the ball and the time he spent with it exposed an unusual lack of natural flow to Liverpool’s game.

He was doing his best to make things happen by himself and waited for the right moment to try and find the right pass. The thought of losing what he offers to the African Cup of Nations in January is a scary one. 

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