David Moyes is furious with VAR after Jol Matip's header gives Liverpool the victory. | soccer4u
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David Moyes is furious with VAR after Jol Matip’s header gives Liverpool the victory.



Liverpool is still playing. Trent Alexander-Arnold 2.0 was created by Jürgen Klopp, who liberated the right-back from his defensive duties by playing him in midfield. With Luis Dáz back in the lineup, Klopp also has additional options to win games.


Even if it doesn’t exactly feel like a return to the days of the mentality monster, Klopp can only be optimistic. Liverpool had to work hard for their third straight victory, which kept their slim prospects of cracking the top four alive.

West Ham were a tough, creative opponent, even though they were slow to respond to Klopp’s substitutions just before Jol Matip scored the game-winning goal. They also had reason to be angry after Thiago Alcântara handled the ball in the closing seconds but no penalty was given.


The increasingly inextricable laws surrounding handball saved Liverpool. They could argue that Thiago had no chance to get out of the way as he lashed out at Danny Ings and more or less slammed the ball onto the turf, but West Ham were furious at the VAR’s refusal to intervene.

David Moyes’ side, who remain five points above the bottom three, have seen nothing but injustice.

“You’ll probably see them come out with some bullshit about whether it’s going to break his fall,” Moyes said. “If you fall, it’s your fault that you lost control.

The hardest thing to put up with is the lack of respect from VAR – that VAR wouldn’t have at least told the referee it was worth it. That tells me they don’t even see this as close to a decision.”

Liverpool continued to dig deep. Matip headed in their winning goal with 23 minutes left for their fourth goal from a set piece in two games, but there was also some beauty. When Lucas Paquetá’s stunning opening goal was cancelled out by Cody Gakpo and Klopp had strength in depth on the bench, Alexander-Arnold stood out with an assist. After replacing Diogo Jota on the left and returning from a long-term injury, Dáz stretched West Ham.

Liverpool’s inconsistencies were evident from the start. They came out to control and all the momentum that came from Alexander-Arnold transformed into his true form: that of the inverted, free and inverted right-back. Watching Alexander-Arnold drift inside to launch attacks from deep was like watching Liverpool develop in real time. West Ham were outnumbered in midfield and struggled to get out. Liverpool pressed, Mohamed Salah and Gakpo both saw the opening shots blocked.

But Liverpool have also given hope to West Ham at the other end. Virgil van Dijk lost possession to Jarrod Bowen after four minutes, whose center Mikhail Antonio narrowly missed the centre. Bowen proved to be a handful for Andy Robertson and with Alexander-Arnold rarely getting in his way, Said Benrahma was lively on the left.

Liverpool’s system was not infallible. It was too easy when West Ham took the lead in the 12th minute, even if it was a good goal. There was a sense that something special was happening when Benrahma hit a high ball and when Paquetá slid wide left after a one-two with Antonio. Liverpool were too open. No challenge from Jordan Henderson after another one-two between Paquetá and Antonio. Fabinho was nearby and watched with admiration. Antonio’s shot was perfect and Paquetá passed Alisson from the edge of the area for the first time.

A rolllock from Klopp told Liverpool to fight back. They were already six minutes down when Alexander-Arnold slipped inside and slid a pass behind Tomas Soucek. Gakpo had room for the West Ham back four and the striker made the most of it by punching a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski.

“I heard about handball,” Klopp said. “I thought he just fell on the ball. But I can understand that Moyesie sees it very differently. But if you watch the game, we are the deserved winners. These guys are doing it like animals. We are chasing the ball again. We defend very differently.”

There were downsides to Alexander-Arnold’s placement.

He was absent when Bowen gave Benrahma a chance to race at Henderson’s. Only a last touch from Van Dijk prevented Antonio from intercepting Benrahma’s cross. West Ham nearly scored from the resulting corner, Antonio heading wide. The match was close and Liverpool were in danger of being overwhelmed early in the second half. Declan Rice became increasingly dominant, pushing higher in possession and then charging again to counter Salah.

Liverpool required a kick. They scored one when West Ham went on the attack and Bowen’s goal was called back for offside. Soon, Klopp turned to face his bench. After taking over for Henderson in midfield, Thiago displayed composure. Dáz immediately started playing around with Vladimir Coufal.

The weary West Ham retreated. They managed to get away after Matip was stopped by Fabianski’s right knee, but they were not sufficiently concentrated on their marking. Matip was free to go home after Robertson delivered another corner.

“Two sloppy goals,” Moyes remarked. His main beef, though, was with the authorities.

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