Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fabulous early strike was cancelled out by Leroy Sane as the two teams went into the half-time break level-pegging. Three goals in nine second-half minutes looked to have given Liverpool an insurmountable advantage, with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all striking.
However, City mounted a late comeback and set up a grandstand finish thanks to goals from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Liverpool, though, held on for a deserved victory as Pep Guardiola’s men suffered their first defeat of the campaign. Here are three talking points…
Rampant Liverpool turn on the style
If any fixture was going to prove City’s undoing, it was this one. Liverpool are unpredictable but when on top of their game, few teams can live with them. They were respectful of City but undaunted by the challenge they faced, taking the game to their opponents right from the kick-off.
In their first match since Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona, Liverpool showed the Brazilian is not irreplaceable. The Fab Four may have been reduced to three, but each of Mane, Salah and Firmino found the net. The movement and pace with which they attack is frightening, as City found to their cost.
Record signing Virgil van Dijk was ruled out of the clash and Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies were magnified in his absence, with recalled goalkeeper Loris Karius also unconvincing. The Reds are still a work in progress in that regard, but under manager Jurgen Klopp they are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
City succumb but remain in the driving seat
Many believed it was City’s destiny to become only the second Premier League team to go through a season undefeated, following Arsenal‘s Invincibles of 2003/04. But such talk can now be consigned to the rubbish bin. Despite their sensational form, it would have been a monumental achievement not to lose a single fixture.
In one respect, Guardiola will be glad it has happened. Their advantage at the top of the table remains 15 points, albeit perhaps only for 24 hours, and there is no indication this result will spark a poor run of form. City fought back valiantly after the shock of conceding three times in quick succession, which will please the Spaniard greatly.
Guardiola was philosophical in defeat and recognised his side had played their part in a magnificent contest. Sometimes, a reality check is a good thing. City may no longer be invincible, but they are still the overwhelming favourites to be crowned Premier League champions in May.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is proving his worth
His Liverpool career did not start the way he would have imagined after completing a summer switch from Arsenal. In a quest to play regular football, Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to pastures new and hoped he would be rejuvenated. Initially, he struggled for game-time and his brief performance were often derided. As a result, he lost his place in the England squad.
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain is growing in stature and produced arguably his best display in a Liverpool shirt against the runaway Premier League leaders. Nothing builds confidence like a goal and his long-range strike that gave the Reds a ninth-minute lead did just that.
Playing in the central role he had coveted, Oxlade-Chamberlain was a dominant figure, using his strength and pace to great effect. His transfer to Liverpool was greeted with scepticism, but it’s clear to see that working under Klopp is having a positive impact. The former Southampton man will hope it’s enough to help him regain his place in the national team.
One to Watch: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold oozes confidence vs West Ham
The 19-year-old picked up exactly where he left off last season.
He simply picked up from where he left season, oozing confidence as he patrolled the right side – camping himself in West Ham’s territory as Liverpool dominated the match.
The Englishman’s exceptional passing ability was the main feature of his performance.
He touched the ball 99 times and completed 58 of his 69 passes, with one delightful line-breaking pass standing out.
This ball, played through to Naby Keita as Liverpool broke forward in the build-up to their first goal, highlighted how dangerous Alexander-Arnold’s passing range when he is given time to raise his eyes and play diagonal balls through midfield.
This diagonal pass split West Ham’s entire midfield open, sending Keita on a burst that culminated in Salah putting the Reds 1-0 ahead.
It was symbolic of the mentality Klopp instils in his players, making them feel confident taking risks to set attacks in motion.
In this instance, the 19-year-old could easily have recycled the ball to a centre-back, but his team were rewarded for his courage in possession.
Defensively, he was also quite active, completing four of his five tackles and making a solitary interception.
Again, having West Ham camped in their own half suited Alexander-Arnold as he was able to press up the pitch and win the ball early in typical Liverpool fashion.
He continues to prove why he is so important to this Liverpool team, and highlights why Nathaniel Clyne cannot get close to first-team football.
Liverpool round-up: Klopp’s West Ham reaction; Klavan bid rejected; Lovren latest
Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a record equaling win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane twice and Daniel Sturridge. The victory took the team straight to the top of the table with one game played and 37 more to go.
“A very good start, for sure. Yes, it’s a start – perfect as well because we won the game. For us it was not perfect, but really good. West Ham will play for sure a good season, but they are not then the Uniteds, Citys and all that stuff. That’s how it is, they know that and we know that and we have to be ready week in, week out for all the different challenges. Expectation – ours is the highest, but that changes nothing.”
The Reds were dominant up against Mauricio Pellegrini’s Hammers, who were never at the races. Having taken a two goal lead before half-time, Mane added a second before Sturridge scored with his first touch despite coming on as a late substitute.
Newcastle wanted Klavan
News has emerged that the Reds turned down a deadline day bid from Newcastle United for Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan. The report comes from The Chronicle, who say that former Anfield boss Rafa Benitez was keen on the central defender as a cheap option to strengthen his squad.
However, Jurgen Klpop decided that the team could not do without the 32-year-old, who is currently unavailable for selection due to an injury problem. That is despite the fact that his contract is set to expire in 2019, though Klopp has previously said he would like to retain his services.
Lovren set for weeks out
Dejan Lovren returned from the World Cup suffering from a stomach problem and remains sidelined by the issue, as Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed. The German revealed that the Croatian was already struggling towards the end of the season but played through the pain expecting that it would clear up when he had time off after the summer break.
“I am pretty sure it will settle in the next one, two or three weeks. In that time he can probably for sure train already, but not the full programme, so that will then take time. In the end, it is serious but not that serious, so it’s not that we need to be afraid that it will take him until whenever. In the moment he is not available, that’s true.”
However, that has not been the case and the coach has now revealed that he faces one to three weeks on the sidelines with the issue. Joe Gomez excelled in his place on Sunday and looks set to retain that position.
Premier League Team of the Week I: Featuring Crystal Palace and Liverpool favourites
Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week 1?
Crystal Palace and Liverpool enjoyed away wins on the opening weekend of the Premier League season while Everton gave newly promoted Wolves a quick reminder of the tough task they face on their return to the top flight.
Following the weekend’s action, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.
Crystal Palace duo Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka make up the defensive line, with both impressing in the Eagles’ 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Fulham.
The former made six saves in-between the sticks to ensure a well-deserved clean sheet, while the latter successfully nullified the attacking threat of the talented Ryan Sessegnon, ensuring last season’s Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year barely had a sniff all game. Meanwhile, he also turned creator for his side’s second goal of the afternoon.
Liverpool’s James Milner‘s imperious display ensures him a spot in midfield for the week. As the Reds strolled to a 4-0 victory over West Ham United at Anfield, the 32-year-old dominated proceedings, bettering his peers in seven key areas, including recording more touches of the ball than any other player on the pitch.
Keeping him company in midfield is Wolves talent Ruben Neves. Like Milner, the 21-year-old Portugal star was central to his club’s efforts throughout the opening week. He demonstrated his immense talent and a level of maturity beyond his years as he lead his side to a 2-2 draw, chipping in with a goal and an assist.
In attack, Everton’s Richarlison seems like a man who is clearly going to thrive on the pressure of performing at Goodison Park, at least if his debut for the Toffees is anything to go by. His well-taken brace against Wolves ensured a ten-man Toffees side emerged with a least a point in their first competitive outing under Marco Silva.
Finally, Liverpool star Sadio Mane proved he is not willing to fall quietly into Mohamed Salah’s shadow at Anfield with a terrific week one performance. The Senegalese forward was in red hot form as he netted a superb brace to pick up where he left off last season following his goal in the Champions League Final defeat to Real Madrid.
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