West Ham United 0-2 Liverpool: Reds are corner counter kings
Liverpool won their game in hand at West Ham to move a scarcely believable 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League
Liverpool ticked off another three points in their pursuit of title number 19 when they defeated West Ham United 2-0 on Wednesday night.
They continue to chalk up yet more remarkable records too. The Reds are now the 13th side to beat every other team in a top flight season, and are the fastest to do so. Even more impressively, Liverpool have now become the first club to take 106 points from a run of 38 league games. Thirty-four wins, four draws, 90 goals scored and 23 conceded.
In the Premier League era, they’ve had higher scoring streaks of 38 matches, or season-long runs where they’ve kept more clean sheets and conceded fewer goals. But never has it all coalesced as perfectly as it has in the last 12 months.
When the story of 2019/20 is written, this match won’t be one of the more memorable moments. Such victories are becoming par for the course, as for the fourth time in eight league matches Liverpool went in at the break 1-0 up, before ultimately winning 2-0. Where ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ was once an oft-heard chant, there should be a half time version for Liverpool. This was the eighth league match in a row where that was the score line after 45 minutes.
That it was here was thanks to Mohamed Salah scoring a penalty. The Egyptian has scored at least one of the goals in nine of Liverpool’s 12 Premier League 2-0 victories in his time at the club. He is now on a remarkable run of 30 league wins in a row – he missed the draw at Old Trafford due to injury – which is the most by any player in the modern era.
The spot kick was awarded after Divock Origi was fouled, but the moment of magic to allow that came from Roberto Firmino. His one successful pass in the opposition penalty area all night – the same total as managed by the entire West Ham team – found his Belgian teammate, before Issa Diop took him out.
Referee Jon Moss infamously gave two penalties against Liverpool when Spurs visited Anfield in 2018, with this the first he has awarded in the Reds’ favour in the last 17 matches of theirs which he has taken charge of.
Aside from the penalty, Salah had four other shots of low expected goal value. His greater contribution in open play came on the creative front. Liverpool’s number 11 had already teed up Andy Robertson for a clear-cut chance while the score was 0-0, and later played in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Liverpool’s second goal.
Those two chances gave Salah an expected assist tally of 0.68, his tenth best total in his 95 league appearances for the club. But before he could set up the second goal, he had to receive a perfect pass from Jordan Henderson.
The skipper was in the thick of the action throughout the contest. He was the top or joint-top Liverpool player for passes, chances created, tackles, interceptions, crosses blocked and ball recoveries. With three of the latter in the final third he went to joint-top of the Premier League for that particular statistic this season, though it was his recovery in the defensive third which set the wheels in motion for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal.
The former Arsenal man loves playing against West Ham. He has faced them on three occasions with Liverpool, scoring every time, and now has a career total of three goals and four assists in his eight Premier League appearances against them.
His goal was notable as it maintained Liverpool’s remarkable record at counter attacking. This has been particularly true from opposition corners; this was the fourth time in their last 10 league matches that the Reds have netted immediately after facing one.
Sadio Mané scored Liverpool’s fourth against Everton in this fashion, Salah broke the deadlock from a corner-counter when Watford visited Anfield, before memorably putting the seal on the recent win over Manchester United via the same method.
The goal also meant Liverpool moved onto 21 counter-attacking league goals since the start of the 2017/18 season, which is the joint-most alongside Leicester City. Liverpool also top the set piece goal charts for the same period with 42, illustrating the variety of threat they carry.
Shortly after Liverpool’s second goal, West Ham had their one clear-cut chance of the evening. Unfortunately for them, Angelo Ogbonna continued the trend of opposition players failing to test Alisson Becker when presented with high quality opportunities.
Of the last 10 clear-cut chances opposing teams have had when the Brazilian has been in goal, seven have been put off target, with two saved and just one beating him. Is it luck or does his imposing presence put players off?
Ogbonna’s header aside, West Ham didn’t have a single shot from closer than the penalty spot, while Liverpool had four clear-cut chances in total. It was yet another deserved win for the Reds.
This result means Liverpool can look at their last 76 league matches and see just three defeats. As Jürgen Klopp lost three of his first nine league games with the club, I think we can agree he’s made no small amount of progress in the last four years.