Liverpool: Reds On Verge Of CL After West Ham Win
Liverpool produce arguably their best performance of 2017 to dispatch West Ham United at the London Stadium...
Liverpool respond to wins earlier in the weekend for top four rivals Manchester City and Arsenal with an emphatic 4-0 victory over West Ham United on Sunday.
The three points mean a win over relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield on the final day of the season will guarantee the Reds a return to the Champions League next season.
Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho, who was deployed in a deeper, more central role than usual, was once again the standout performer as Jürgen Klopp's men produced a display brimming with intensity and tempo when they needed it most.
A fine through-ball by the Brazilian facilitated Daniel Sturridge in opening the scoring in the 35th minute before he himself got on the scoresheet shortly after the restart with a low drive from the edge of the area.
Four minutes later and the former Inter Milan schemer was on hand again to finish off an incisive, if controversial, counter-attack that effectively made the game safe.
Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who had earlier played a big part in the build-up to Coutinho's first strike with a thunderous volley that struck the crossbar, appeared to have both handled and committed a foul in his own box but referee Neil Swarbrick decided to ignore the vociferous penalty appeals and moments later the ball was in the back of the West Ham net.
Divock Origi added a fourth to the visitors' tally with 14 minutes to play and the final score could easily have been double that amount as the Hammers began to look every bit a team with nothing to play for.
Regardless of the luck involved in their third goal, and an astonishing miss by André Ayew on the stroke of half-time that would have levelled things up, Liverpool were ultimately deserved and comfortable winners.
Analysing the contest at his post-match press conference, Klopp echoed such sentiments saying: "It was a really good football game. The start was not that good, we changed system and the one thing that was then new is a little bit of the situation on the wing.
"The big chance they had [at] the second post area, we did not do that good in this moment. But they couldn't score, then we controlled the game, then we scored the goal and then had another big chance with the header.
"We were the dominant side but they had absolutely one of the biggest chances I've ever seen in my life. They didn't score so that was a lucky moment for us.
"The start of the second half was brilliant, we played really good football and we were more direct and used the information from the first half and from half-time. We tried a few different moves, a few different surprising movements and had better timing in passing and running.
"It's easy to say and much more difficult to do but the boys did really brilliant. We scored the goals, controlled the game, could have scored more often but that's completely OK that we didn't. A perfect afternoon."
Looking ahead to the visit of Boro, Klopp promised there would be no complacency as he and his players look to secure only a second appearance in Europe's elite club competition in seven seasons.
"Nobody will go into this game and underestimate Middlesbrough even one per cent," remarked the German. "They have had a hard season, it's hard in a season like this to enjoy football and I am pretty sure they want to enjoy football at Anfield. They want to try everything to play good football and that makes life difficult for us.
"[But] if we can be as focused as today, as fluent and have as good movement as today, then it will be difficult [for Middlesbrough]. But first of all, we have to train, we have to recover, we have to prepare and then find a line-up for the game."
So that's what both us and Klopp thought about the game, how about you? Let us know your views below...
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