Familiar Failings at Anfield
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 12 Aug 2018 20:20:00
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While there was major excitement off the pitch over the summer about West Ham United's chances of claiming a top ten finish, it didn't transfer onto the field as it was another opening day to forget, as Liverpool beat them 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

Manuel Pellegrini included five of his summer recruits as there were full debuts for Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Fabián Balbuena, Jack Wilshire and Felipe Anderson. Andriy Yarmolenko and Issa Diop were also named in the squad but they had to settle for a place on the bench.

The fans in the stadium were expecting big things from their teams, who had both spent considerable money this summer but although the Irons created an opening with seconds gone, they were unable to take advantage. Arthur Masuaku picked up Anderson's lay-off but Trent Alexander-Arnold was in the way.

From that point on, Jürgen Klopp's men dominated proceedings and they were ahead on 18 minutes, as Mohamed Salah had the easiest of finishes after a great team move from the Reds.

Six minutes later, Liverpool could have gone further ahead but only a great save from Fabianski denied them, as the new goalkeeper tipped Alexander-Arnold's freekick over the top after Mark Noble had fouled Roberto Firmino.

West Ham wasted their best chance of the half when Marko Arnautovic was given space to run into a dangerous area but a great block from Joe Gomez halted his progress and the chance had gone.

Seconds later, Balbuena saw his header saved by Alisson and Salah then looked certain to add to his tally but somehow, Fabianski made a crucial block.

The visitors were hopeful of going into the break just a goal behind but in first-half stoppage time, Liverpool scored again. This time it was Sadio Mané who couldn't miss as the opportunity was presented to him on a plate by James Milner and the East Londoners had a mountain to climb if they were going to get back into this one.

Pellegrini made a change to his team for the second-half, as Robert Snodgrass replaced Declan Rice. 

Four minutes later, the Scotsman helped West Ham create another good chance when he sent over a corner which was flicked on by Anderson at the near post but unfortunately, the opportunity again went begging as Michail Antonio fired over.

Another four minutes had passed when Klopp's men made the game safe, as Mané added his second after more great play from Firmino. Television replays showed that the goal should have been ruled out but the East Londoners weren't afforded that luxury.

Just after the hour, Pellegrini made a second change, replacing Anderson with Javier Hernández and five minutes later, Yarmolenko was introduced as he took the place of an unhappy Arnautovic.

It was already an easy afternoon for the Reds but Daniel Sturridge's goal was probably the simplest effort you would have ever seen. Three minutes from time, the substitute made an instant impact as he fired the ball past a helpless Fabianski with his first touch.

It was a thoroughly miserable day for the Irons in terms of result and performance. Their fans will definitely be hoping for an improvement against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.

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