Moyes Masterclass, Liverpool Clogged Up
Reaction and analysis as West Ham defeat Liverpool 3-2 in the Premier League.
West Ham’s enthralling 3-2 win over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool sees them climb to third in the Premier League standings. It was quite the game, with tactics and talent at play. So, let’s talk about it.
David Moyes Outcoached Klopp
Really. He did.
Moyes’ side entered the game with a relatively simple strategy in mind: block Liverpool’s route through central midfield. They did it very well.
Here’s how West Ham shaped up out of possession.
Declan Rice would drop into the space between the Hammers’ defence and midfield. Pablo Fornals would fall in line with Tomas Soucek in the centre, with Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen providing support on the left and right, respectively.
The end result was a 4-1-4-1 with Michail Antonio leading the line.
Note: Rice dropping into the hole achieved two things. First, it tightened the lines/dropped West Ham’s line of engagement deeper. Second, his positioning intruded on the space Mohamed Salah usually exploits. The second point is key.
In short, West Ham’s defensive scheme worked because of its narrowness. While Liverpool held possession, Moyes’ ten outfielders collapsed inwards, all of them positioned within the width of the penalty area.
Happy Hammers: Pablo Fornals and Kurt Zouma spoke to Sky at full-time.
Liverpool – as they sometimes do – found it difficult to break through West Ham’s low/narrow block, which is why they struggled to create high-danger chances and West Ham xG’ed Liverpool by a scoreline of 1.23 to 1.11.
Defensively, narrowness won the day for West Ham. But what about in the final third?
Set Play Perfection
West Ham’s set-piece prowess is based on a simple principle. Delivery. Whether it’s Aaron Cresswell or Pablo Fornals swinging it into the box, the ball always ends up in the same place: on and around the six-yard line.
Secondly, Moyes’ system features one blocker (usually Antonio) and three runners (often Declan Rice, Kurt Zouma, and Angelo Ogbonna).
From there, the equation is simple. If the delivery is placed between West Ham’s blocker and three runners, they’ll have created enough space to attack the cross without the intervention of the other team’s goalkeeper.
That’s how Zouma scored in the second half – and helps to explain why Alison was beaten for West Ham’s first of the evening.
Klopp is upset about a couple of refereeing decisions:
· Goal 1: foul on Alisson by Ogbonna.
· Serious Foul Play: Cresswell on Jordan Henderson.
On another day, both decisions could have gone the other way. Ogbonna’s arm (despite being in a natural position) does touch Alisson as they jostle for the ball. Cresswell’s challenge was fierce. Both decisions were reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee.
Declan Rice’s foul on Salah – which lead to Liverpool’s first goal – was not reviewed by VAR. Again, on another day, the referee might have come to a different conclusion.
Note: Mr Klopp did see all of the game’s other major incidents…
Officiating wasn’t the reason why Liverpool lost; Klopp’s side succumbed to the Hammers because they failed to capitalise on transitions. West Ham clogged up the lanes and Liverpool didn’t have an answer. Their first goal was a (brilliantly-taken) free-kick. Their second was a freakish strike by Divock Origi.
In other words, Klopp’s gameplan failed him against West Ham. It also didn’t help that Alisson had a ‘mare and Sadio Mane missed a sitter in injury time.
The bottom line is this. West Ham won in Moyes’ image; Liverpool lost in Klopp’s.