The first Saturday of the year was a little busy as I had just flown in from Vegas / via Dallas. BA had lost a bag and I needed to get to the early kick off between the Hammers and Liverpool.
I took my seat just after Liverpool had gone close with a cross goal shot, and seemed to have come out of the gate pretty quickly. WHU, however seems to be shutting them down quickly and efficiently. About 30 seconds later Enner Valencia popped in a cross which was met by Michail Antonio to take lead for West Ham. Nice work Sir. The lad who couldn’t get in the team now has 2 in 2.
Liverpool as you would expect had the lions share of the possession, but no end product. Benteke had a one on one after Collins had misread a ball, but Tomkins came across from his right back birth to shepherd the ball out of danger. As mentioned earlier, WHU were harrying and closing down in numbers , so threats were kept to a minimum . Emre Can hit the bar just before half time, but apart from that , WHU were good for the half time lead.
In the second half West Ham played more forward, with Kouyate winning a lot of ball and bring it forward and the midfield were more fluid and interchangeable. In fact , it Was Mark Noble who popped up on the right flank to cross the ball which was met by Andy Carroll to double the lead, and promote some rather enthusiastic celebrations from the number 9, who was let go by Liverpool having been (and still is) their record signing. Liverpool were left to stream forward looking for something, and Klopp didn’t shirk by replacing defenders with midfielders, probably noting that even though we were 2 up, some lucky deflections and defending was contributing to the score. Not to mention the woeful shooting by Liverpool. I cannot remember the last time a team shot so many balls over the bar.
WHU managed to close out the game to win the first game in 2016 with the same scorers as the last game of 2015, and jumped to 5th being the early game.
Once again WHU win a game which will be reported as poor play by the opposition.
However, WHU played well and were all over the pitch. I think Slaven has realised that letting the opposition have the ball all day is not profitable and quicker teams (such as Liverpool) will cut through us (like Leicester did).
The reintroduction of Payet, was very much welcomed by the home faithful, and I get the feeling he only came on after we were 2 nil up, and his name started to ring around the ground. He played a bit of a cameo, but still managed to set up Carroll, and turn Lucas inside out. Hopefully we hold onto him throughout the transfer window. Other players who deserve a mention are James’ Collins and Tomkins. Both were strong in the tackle, and Tomkins seems to be relishing his right back spot (although some of his bombing down the wing needs some finesse !) . One player who really needs to be looked at and I have mentioned it before is Enner Valencia. We paid over 13m for this guy and he is knocked off the ball at the drop of a hat. Personally I don’t think he is EPL standard and would happily bin him this window.
MOTM today was the much maligned Andy Carroll, who battered Liverpool’s defence today, never gave up and got his desserts with a great goal to seal the game.