Search icon


29th Aug 2015

Four things we learnt from Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to West Ham

Some serious questions raised...

Evan Fanning

There goes Liverpool’s optimistic start to the season.

After seven points from three games, with no goals conceded, it seemed like Brendan Rodgers was moving swiftly on from the disappointment of last season.

The arrival of Sean O’Driscoll as Rodgers’ number two had, it was felt, helped to stabilise a creaky defence and a new, more solid Liverpool had emerged with Milner, Can and Benteke providing some beef to go with Coutinho’s beauty.

One dispiriting 90 minutes later and all that seems out the window.

West Ham left Anfield with three deserved points after a 3-0 victory which raised a number of questions for Liverpool…

Rumours of Dejan Lovren’s resurrection were greatly exaggerated

It was a long summer without any World Cup or European Championships and the break seemed to wipe the collective memories of anyone who watched Dejan Lovren attempt to defend last season.

Liverpool were solid in defence in the 1-0 victory at Stoke, but only kept clean sheets against Bournemouth and Arsenal thanks to extremely generous refereeing decisions.

Still, the assumption was that Martin Skrtel and Lovren had formed a central defensive partnership that would provide the basis for a tilt at the top four.

But the defensive approach for Rodgers’ first three seasons was well and truly back against West Ham.

The game was a disaster for Lovren. It was going badly long before the catalogue of errors from the Croat which led to West Ham’s crucial second.

But wow they were some errors.

Having got away with trying to shepherd the ball out of play while under pressure from Lanzini you would think Lovren would take the safety first approach and hoof the ball clear when he retrieved it by the corner flag.

Think again, because Dejan had other ideas. What exactly those were we’ll never know but they led directly to West Ham’s second.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Mark Noble of West Ham United celebrates scoring his team's second goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on August 29, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

What happens next is crucial. Does Rodgers immediately change tack and bring in Mamadou Sakho to partner Skrtel at Old Trafford on September 12?

Or does he persist with the the pairing that was his supposed first choice just four weeks ago? Or does it make any difference? No matter who has played at the back during Rodgers’ reign the team have shipped goals. The problems are bigger than personnel.

Fans need to accept that Joe Gomez is going to make mistakes

Joe Gomez is a player of huge potential. His performance at the Emirates was outstanding by anyone’s standards, let alone a player making his third top-flight appearance.

But he is 18-years-old and, by their nature, 18-year-olds make mistakes.

On top of that Gomez is a right-footed centre back playing a left back. Young, inexperienced and out of position. Mistakes are going to follow.

Gomez was by no means the only culprit for Manuel Lanzini’s opener at Anfield, but he appeared to allow the ball run through his legs which left the Argentine a simple tap-in.

The issues for Gomez (and any other teenager) is how much patience is afforded to him by the fans and how he copes mentally with setbacks and the crowd’s frustration.

There was noticeable volume of groans on a couple of occasions when Gomez lost the ball or put a cross out of play.

But it was a credit to the youngster that he kept moving forward and looking for the ball in attacking positions.

But the Anfield crowd and the Liverpool Twitter brigade may want to cut him a bit of slack.

Liverpool are desperately short of width and pace

Liverpool’s midfield trio of James Milner, Emre Can and Lucas have plenty of energy, mobility and a good degree of physicality.

Ahead of them Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have passing ability, tricks and creativity in abundance, while Christian Benteke provides power.

But there is very little width and pace in what, Jordan Henderson aside, seems to be Brendan Rodgers first choice front six.

Against a packed West Ham defence, the kind of eye-of-a-needle passes Coutinho and Firmino provide didn’t work and suddenly Benteke looked like a very static front man.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool and Pedro Mba Obiang of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on August 29, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Moving Coutinho out of position to a wide role, as Rodgers attempted to do, is hardly the answer.

Liverpool need to find another way.

The pressure could build on Brendan Rodgers quite quickly

When the Premier League fixtures were announced in June, many felt that Liverpool had got the raw end of the deal. A make-or-break season for Rodgers could be over by October if Liverpool’s first seven away games went badly.

Instead, after the positive results in the opening three games, it was more than possible to envisage a situation where Liverpool would be going into October neck-and-neck with the title challengers, and certainly well in the mix for a top four spot.

That is still possible, but the thrashing at home by West Ham is a serious setback. Home games – especially home games against mid-table sides – must be won.

Liverpool’s next game, after the international break, is away at Manchester United. They will be without Coutinho after his red card against West Ham.

Defeat at Old Trafford and Rodgers will be smack bang in a situation where the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller by the week.

That would not be a good place to be. A minimum of a point is needed at Old Trafford.