For the first time in 52 years, West Ham travelled to Anfield in Merseyside and took away three points. This came as a surprise to many after years upon years of miserable trudges up north for West Ham’s travelling fans. Also, Liverpool had started the season defensively impenetrably, yet to concede a goal in the first three games whereas, West Ham were coming off the back of two home defeats against Leicester and Bournemouth in which they conceded seven goals. After a hapless defensive display against Bournemouth which saw the Cherries take their first Premier League win in history, most, including the West Ham fans didn’t have much hope in their chances.
However, it surprised everyone when in the second minute, Cresswell pounced on a poor defensive header from Martin Skrtel and crossed from the left side of the box to find Manuel Lanzini who, on his Premier League debut, tapped home to give West Ham a priceless early lead. Even the jubilant away fans would have held doubt going into the next 88 minutes plus added time for their sides chances of holding out for a memorable win but that was exactly what they did with a tenacious, dogged and hard-working performance from the first minute to the last.
It only took till the twenty-ninth minute for West Ham to double their lead when Manuel Lanzini, who stood out for his high-energy display throughout, put pressure on Dejan Lovren causing him to make a mistake as he tried to shepherd the ball out of play and lose the ball. Lanzini carried it into the box and tried to pick Sakho out with a low cross which was cleared but only as far as Hammers captain Mark Noble who calmly slotted the ball home into the right corner with a beautifully calm side-footed finish.
Liverpool’s lifeless display was only further compounded early in the second half when Philippe Coutinho, one of the Red’s standout players last season and in the first few games this year, was sent off for a second bookable offence after a mistimed challenge on West Ham’s Dimitri Payet. He had received his first booking for indiscipline as he refused to walk away from a free kick and got the second for a late challenge on Frenchman, Payet. This all but ended much chance of a Liverpool comeback and they never really looked like they posed much of a danger to the West Ham backline at any point throughout with a largely anonymous display from new signing Roberto Firmino who saw one of his two attempts fly off of the post in he first half.
West Ham of course could not see out the game without making it awkward for themselves when Noble was sent off with just over ten minutes to go for a lunging challenge on Liverpool substitute, Danny Ings. However, on second viewing, the sending off is controversial for two reasons: A) Because the whistle had already blown for a foul so the ball was technically not in play and B) because Noble’s studs are not off the ground and the challenge does not really look worthy of the straight red that it saw courtesy of Kevin Friend.
Despite the levelling of the playing field, Liverpool still failed to really challenge West Ham as youngster Reece Oxford was brought on to shore up the Hammers’ defensive midfield and West Ham capped off a fine counter attacking display with a goal from Diafra Sakho who slotted into the bottom right corner of Mignolet’s goal in the second minute of added time.
West Ham were full value for the three points they take away from Anfield today and it makes you wonder what happened in those two home games against Leicester and Bournemouth between two absolutely perfect away displays against Arsenal and Liverpool. Manuel Lanzini impressed on his debut after transferring from Al Jazira in the UAE, scoring the first and assisting the second, and the Hammers were simply better, stronger and quicker than Liverpool in all areas on the day.
Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini