David Moyes took a few tips on Sevilla from Jürgen Klopp as he looked ahead to West Ham’s trip to Andalucía in the Europa League on Thursday. The Scot should have taken more from Anfield but Liverpool, as they must, found a way to maintain the pressure on Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Liverpool were far from their convincing best but that will not unduly concern Klopp when presiding over a run of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions. The club’s 600th victory in the Premier League owed as much to West Ham profligacy as Sadio Mané’s predatory instincts and several rescue acts from the Liverpool defence. Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini missed glorious chances to level, the latter leaving Moyes in a heap on the touchline when he skied over from five yards out.
“To win 12 games in a row you can’t only win when you are flying,” the Liverpool manager reflected. “We were obviously not flying. We had to dig really deep and the boys did that. It is necessary to get something out of this season that we keep on going. There is no time to rest.” These are the wins that shape titles.
West Ham were worthy of a point against a title contender that started sharply but grew weary in the second half. The visitors’ hopes of becoming the first team to record a Premier League double over Klopp’s Liverpool were not helped by Declan Rice missing out through illness but, with Lanzini paired alongside Tomas Soucek, they overcame a troubled start to deliver a confident display. Moyes said: “We got in behind Liverpool, we had shots on goal and one or two huge opportunities. Michail Antonio was great today but sometimes you need to be just that bit better against the top teams.” He added: “It is hard to get something here, but I did get some tips from Jürgen about Sevilla after the game.”
The visitors grew into the game following an uncertain opening, denying Liverpool’s front three space and showing more composure in possession, which made the decisive breakthrough galling from Moyes’ perspective. Naby Keïta’s crossfield pass found Trent Alexander-Arnold lurking outside the West Ham area. The defender controlled on his chest and aimed towards the far corner where Mané, ghosting in behind Craig Dawson, arrived to flick the ball beyond Lukasz Fabianski. VAR took a lengthy look at a possible offside and finally ruled that the goalscorer was played on by Dawson’s upper arm.
Alexander-Arnold whipped a free-kick just wide of Fabianski’s top corner, with the West Ham goalkeeper rooted to the spot, after Luis Díaz’s blistering run was illegally halted by Kurt Zouma. Anfield went to great lengths to condemn the cat kicker. A plane carrying the banner “Cats Lives Matter” flew above the stadium before kick-off. When a giant inflatable cat’s head appeared in the Main Stand, the Kop reworked “Attack, Attack, Attack” with the words “A cat, A cat, A cat”.
Zouma, you suspect, may have been more aggrieved at his teammates’ failure to take one of several excellent chances to equalise. Fornals had a gilt-edged opportunity when Ben Johnson’s cross found the playmaker onside and sprinting through a chasm in Liverpool’s central defence. The forward hesitated before chipping the advancing Alisson, but his effort lacked power and Alexander-Arnold was able to hook off the line just as West Ham fans started celebrating. Alisson saved Fornals’ header from the follow-up.
A misplaced header by Virgil van Dijk sent Jarrod Bowen through on Liverpool’s goal shortly after the restart. Andy Robertson, typifying the hosts’ resolve, flew in to prevent the forward releasing his shot. Worryingly for West Ham, Bowen collapsed at the other end of the pitch seconds later and had to be helped off. “It happened in the tackle from Andy Robertson and looks like he’s been caught near the achilles,” said Moyes. “I’ve not seen the Robertson one again but I’d like to see [Diogo] Jota’s tackle on Fornals again. If that would have been one of our players it would have been seen in a different light.” The Liverpool substitute was only booked for a dangerous tackle that landed on the Spaniard’s ankle.
Lanzini squandered the visitors’ finest chance when Soucek’s cross found him unmarked inside the Liverpool area. The Argentinian controlled, checked inside Alexander-Arnold but, with the goal at his mercy, blazed over. Antonio had another one-on-one with Alisson when Mark Noble’s ball sent him clear but Keïta got a crucial touch on the striker’s shot.
“All of these situations were for me like scoring a goal,” said Klopp of defensive interventions from Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konaté and Keïta. “The ball is still in play so you can’t celebrate like you would a goal but it still feels exactly the same for me.”