Liverpool 2-1 West Ham United: Klopp's substitutes combine for late winner
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

No team does 'mark of champions' wins quite like Liverpool

More often than not, it seems, the performance is unpolished but the result brings Jurgen Klopp and the club's supporters immense satisfaction. 

On this Halloween night, the Reds deservedly trailed to Pablo Fornals' early strike, hauled themselves level from the penalty spot and snatched victory through the off-the-bench heroics of Diogo Jota with only five minutes remaining.

For the majority of the game, David Moyes' West Ham proved a match for top-drawer opposition once again. And yet, in the case of Liverpool, a unique inevitability hangs over the game. They will get you in the end. 

Story of the game

Nathaniel Phillips was drafted in for a Premier League debut having spent last season on loan in the German second tier, but it was his established partner Joe Gomez who faltered as West Ham grabbed the lead.

Gomez stooped to head away an Arthur Masuaku cross but it was a tame clearance, falling for Fornals on the edge of the area. The Spaniard, a scorer on his last trip to Anfield, then had the time to steer a steady but precise effort beyond Alisson. Liverpool's defence had been beaten for the 15th time 10 minutes into their seventh game.

It took the Reds a further 15 minutes to threaten an equaliser, Jordan Henderson striding onto Mohamed Salah's lay-off and side-footing a fraction wide from 20 yards.

Andrew Robertson then thumped a volley over the top, but it certainly looked as if the regimented and deep-lying Hammers would be heading down the tunnel with their lead intact.

That was until the 40th minute when Salah took down Curtis Jones' intelligent floated pass and looked to shield the ball from Masuaku. Impatiently, the Frenchman looked to make a challenge rather than shepherd Salah away further from goal and he wound up kicking his opponent's heel.

Salah promptly went to ground with an anguished cry and on the advice of his assistant, Kevin Friend awarded a penalty. 

Salah, who hasn't missed from 12 yards since Huddersfield visited Anfield more than three years ago, beat Fabianksi with a driven, central strike. And so the scores were level at the interval. 

The similarities to last weekend's clash with Sheffield United were striking. Liverpool had fallen behind early, equalised on the stroke of half-time but then struggled to assert themselves early in the second half.

Indeed, West Ham were more dangerous. Five minutes into the second period, Masuaku, bidding for redemption, produced a dangerous cut back from the left and a sliding Fornals met it around eight yards from goal, but Alisson was able to gather.

The midfielder had another sight of goal not long after the hour, but Andrew Robertson crucially got in the way of his prodded strike. On reflection, he will accept that he ought to have squared for the unmarked Jarrod Bowen on his shoulder.

David Moyes' men seemed to have victory on their minds, but soon a lengthy spell of Liverpool possession and pressure forced them into retreat. The movement of the ball was reassuringly slow until Henderson almost unlocked the visitors single-handedly.

His sublime, arrowed diagonal for the out-to-in run of Robertson was the cue for Salah and Sadio Mane, who awaited the assist in the middle. But after the left-back chested down, he ran out of space, and Lukasz Fabianski was able to push the ball to relative safety at his near post.

And that would be the last action before Jurgen Klopp's decisive intervention. On came Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri, off went Jones and Roberto Firmino.

At last, there was a menace about Liverpool. With 15 minutes remaining, Shaqiri set in motion a counterattack which ended with a close-range finish from Jota after Mane's shot was parried.

But the celebrations were reserved because Friend had his finger to his ear. After being denied, Mane had rather desperately lunged in on Fabianski and prevented the 'keeper from making any real effort to thwart Jota's rebound.

The referee was advised to consult the pitchside monitor, and in keeping with convention, overruled his decision. VAR controversy has engulfed Liverpool of late but this time, it was hard to dispute the foul.

And ultimately, it mattered little. The champions pried the door open once again on 85', Shaqiri deftly slipping a pass through the West Ham backline for Jota to dispatch. 

The impressive Phillips helped them to soak up the subsequent pressure and clinch three points which for, 24 hours at least, secure top spot.

Takeaways

Jota must start, Shaqiri must figure

The last Liverpool player to score on their first three Premier League appearances at Anfield? Luis Garcia, 11 years ago. Diogo Jota's similarly rapid start has exceeded all expectations. 

In terms of all-round performance, there is a little more to come, but any concerns about end-product have already been put to bed. Three goals in seven days, each vital in lifting Liverpool from their malaise. 

In the context of another quiet evening for Roberto Firmino, who has struggled for form since the beginning of last season, Jota surely has to take his place in the front three; until, that is, Firmino can wrestle it back. 

Shaqiri has also staked his claim for greater involvement this week. He shone in a heavily-rotated, largely lacklustre Liverpool side against Midtjylland and delivered an outstanding cameo here. 

The Swiss international was on the brink of leaving the club in the summer, but has taken the opportunity to underline his quality and the spark he so often provides.

In his case, fitness appears the only barrier to an important squad role for the remainder of the campaign.

Liverpool's relentlessness could tame chaotic league

Let's reflect on the statistics. Liverpool have extended their home unbeaten run in the top flight to 63 matches, equalling the club record set in the 1980s. They have become the first Premier League team to win from behind in three successive home games for 11 years. And since Virgil van Dijk suffered an injury with the potential to derail their season, they have won all four matches.

In that time, they haven't played particularly well. But it seems the focus has been merely on grinding a way through this tricky period, with Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Joel Matip and now the instrumental Fabinho all sidelined by short-term injuries.

A month that began with a historic collapse that plunged Liverpool's title credentials into doubt has ended with a restoration of order. The specialists in consistency are capable of steering through the 20/21 mayhem. 

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