West Ham were poor against Liverpool, but there really is no need to overreact
Sunday’s Premier League game against Liverpool provided West Ham with an unprecedented seventh consecutive game in 2021.
The Hammers’ perfect calendar year had started with three points at Everton, and more recently Crystal Palace had played out of the park in a complete win – despite what the final score indicated – 3-2 victory at Selhurst Park.
There was even a smooth road up to the fifth round of the FA Cup, after unusually comfortable wins against Stockport (okay, not so comfortable) and Doncaster (very comfortable).
So, with Liverpool champions expected at the London Stadium, there was reason to be optimistic that David Moyes’ Hammers – fifth in the Premier League table, just one point behind Jurgen Klopp’s side – were now ready. step up and perform against a highly regarded member of the ‘Big Six’ – who could even score three points.
As it turned out, West Ham was far from ready to topple the Reds, even though their squad was severely exhausted from injuries and missing key personnel.
Led by talismanic Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – who are remembered to be the champions and have quite a good team depth, contrary to popular belief – was way too good that day, and after the Egyptian had scored his standard brace to put the game beyond Home side, Craig Dawson’s late goal was nothing more than consolation in a deserved 3-1 loss.
Defeat now inevitably leads to disappointment, but for West Ham and its supporters, it should be a time of positive thinking, not regret and anger.
Just 12 months ago, the club were rather without direction and embroiled in a desperate fight for the survival of the Premier League. Moyes had just returned for a second term in office and, frankly, his reappointment was not a popular decision in the books of many people. Morale was low, the team had no identity or form and there was a sense of dread in the pits of many stomachs – West Ham were a club destined to crumble and heading into financial ruin.
So while losing the six-game winning streak has been and remains frustrating, it’s important not to take Sunday’s loss out of context. Yes, Liverpool were weakened and without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Sadio Mane and Fabinho, and yes they weren’t as good as last season due to goal issues and the lack of a center-back in form.
But, as nice as it would have been for West Ham to present a display that was characteristic of the way they’ve been playing for the past three months, the Hammers are still not at the level they really want to be. That’s why Moyes keeps telling home that he’s not satisfied yet and that more can be done; things are going well and going well, but they are far from perfect.
Adjusting and changing the mindset of a team against the greatest teams does not happen overnight. The scars remain from previous encounters and old habits – shaken up in other games – return. It is basic human nature. There were also, more than anything else, tired legs to contend with.
The Liverpool squad were well turned, even though they were diligent. Klopp could bring in Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Nathaniel Phillips – three players who weren’t exceptional that day, but were fresh, eager to impress and who are, well, good. West Ham, on the other hand, could turn, but that would have been detrimental to the quality of their squad. The name was the same starting roster that had played against Crystal Palace five days before, and was pretty much the same – give or take – roster that was showing up for much of the season.
To be fair, West Ham just doesn’t have the in-depth quality of Liverpool, and when you’re tired you just aren’t playing your best. That’s why the Hammers finished 16th last season with 39 points, 60 behind the Reds’ 99-point victory.
That’s why part of the social media reaction to Michail Antonio’s performance was all the more astounding. He missed a few chances, one of which he’ll probably think he should have taken, yes, and he could – and maybe should have – scored four against Palace. But social media takes him down after the game and says he’s not up to the task? Get out of it.
West Ham would honestly be in the league if it weren’t for him and anyone with a minimum of knowledge knows that football – and goals, in particular – is a game of confidence, especially when you’re aware of recurring injuries. and not 100%. .
Everyone associated with the club wants signings, of course. And yes, the owners of the club to have has pledged to invest, has spoken repeatedly of the ambition to move forward and so far there has been little to no return on this front.
But now is not the time to hit the panic button, get angry at the lack of spending, and turn on individuals for defeat. Transitioning from an average team to a good team is always a work in progress, and Moyes – working with the board – must be allowed to do it in his own way in order to properly build this club for the future.
If that means signing a loan from Jesse Lingard, not bringing in a recognized striker and needing a little more time to get it right against the ‘big six’, so be it.
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