Same old Liverpool, same old West Ham.
As Jurgen Klopp’s dashing team came flying from the blocks of the new season with a typical display of energy, invention and speed, West Ham proved desperately compliant opponents. Liverpool scored four times and that felt about right.
For the home team, this was the perfect way to begin a season from which so much is expected. After Klopp’s boxing analogies last week, his team reminded us just how hard – and how often – they can punch.
Liverpool were terrific at times and once Sadio Mane had scored his team’s third goal early in the second half, they dropped their levels to something close to walking pace. It is a long season, after all.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Becker 6: Alexander-Arnold 7.5, Van Dijk 6.5, Gomez 6.5, Robertson 7.5: Milner 8.5, Wijnaldum 7, Keita 8: Salah 8 (Sturridge 88mins), Firmino 8 (Henderson 69mins 6), Mane 8 (Shaqiri 81mins)
Subs not used: Karius (GK), Clyne, Fabinho, Lallana
Goals: Salah (19), Mane (45+1, 53), Sturridge (88)
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 7: Fredericks 5.5, Balbuena 5, Ogbonna 6, Masuaku 5.5: Rice 5.5 (Snodgrass 46mins 6), Noble 6: Antonio 6, Wilshere 6, Anderson 5.5 (Hernandez 62mins 6): Arnautovic 5 (Yarmolenko 67mins 6)
Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Zabaleta, Obiang, Diop
Booked: Antonio, Balbuena
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 5
Referee: A Taylor 5
Man-of-the-Match: James Milner.
New signing Naby Keita fitted seamlessly in to Liverpool’s midfield and looks to possess subtlety, cleverness and confidence. Mo Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino have clearly not been discouraged by relatively modest World Cup efforts while captain James Milner was absolutely magnificent.
Over the coming weeks, however, Liverpool will have to work considerably harder than this.