There was an air of inevitability about the result, as West Ham were steamrolled 4-1 by Liverpool for the second time this season. The Hammers were utterly helpless against the might of the Reds, who were once again fuelled by leading scorer Mo Salah, and no amount of analysis can disguise the plain and simple fact that West Ham got thrashed by a team several leagues ahead.
#1: Moyes cannot win at Anfield
Though the odds were stacked against West Ham long before the squad boarded their Anfield-bound coach, the result should come as no surprise. Moyes has now failed to win at Anfield in fifteen attempts, and with defeat has come a shortening of West Ham’s relegation odds on https://www.sunbets.co.uk. The vast bulk of these failures came during his tenure as Everton manager, and though one or two of those occasions could be chalked up to bad luck, he has never been able to mentally prepare his teams for a Liverpool onslaught.
#2: Possession in defence useless against ‘big six’
Voodoo curses aside, there is a more earthly reason for Moyes’ inability to win at Anfield. Whether with Everton, Manchester United, Sunderland or West Ham, his game plan has barely changed. It was clear for all to see that Moyes was once more determined to merely leave Anfield alive, and crawl one point closer to safety, rather than savour the moment and go down fighting. Two banks of four, with just Marko Arnautovic as the lone striker, was never going to work. Liverpool are simply too good on the counter attack.
#3: Arnautovic is the difference between life and death
As the sole outright striker, Arnautovic was given a nigh-impossible task, even if Liverpool’s defence is still inexplicably leaky. With West Ham still missing key talents in the final third, it is a case of needs-must, but Arnautovic has acquitted himself well in what remains a vicious battle against relegation.
Naturally, his hold-up play still requires development, but if West Ham are to seal survival any time soon, the Austrian’s work rate will be a huge factor. It is also no coincidence that his recent three-match absence through injury saw West Ham take just one point from six, and crash out of the FA Cup, when the ‘par’ expectation was four points and progression at Wigan’s expense.
#4: Clarity on Lanzini required
Manuel Lanzini’s versatility is another weapon at Moyes’ disposal, but with a raft of injuries to attackers, his exact position is forced to change. Though Moyes can only take so much of the blame for the shortage in numbers, Lanzini’s deployment on the left flank at Anfield plainly showed that Moyes had far too much respect for Liverpool. Under the stewardship of Moyes, Lanzini’s natural talent and flair is often undermined by negative tactics, and a backs-to-the-wall mentality. Succinctly put, Lanzini needs to find home in the starting XI – or find a new home.
#5: ‘Peak’ players needed in defence
Time and again, Liverpool have shown the ability to attack in numbers and create lethal chances, regardless of whether it is four, five or ten in defence. Though escaping Anfield with a draw (or, in the recent case of West Brom, a shock win) can be something of a lottery, the need for fresh blood in West Ham’s defence was once more laid bare at Anfield. In the wide areas, Patrice Evra and Pablo Zabaleta looked like exactly what they are – has beens.
With a dearth of defenders that boast the ‘happy medium’ between youthful virility and Premier League pedigree, there was no pace where the Hammers needed it most. Ultimately, this could only nullify whatever futile possession-based game Moyes may have had in mind. Liverpool ran rings around the backline, en-route to finishing the game with 68% possession.