Jurgen Klopp ecstatic as Liverpool reach 100 goals for the season after thrashing West Ham
Salah, Can and Firmino all score in big win, as Liverpool join Manchester City in select group of Premier League teams to score more than 100 goals this season
A select group has doubled in membership. English football’s hundred club opened its doors to admit Liverpool.
Manchester City had been alone in registering a century of goals this season. Predictably, prolifically, Jurgen Klopp’s potent charges joined them to go second, behind just them, in the table.
By the time West Ham United exited Anfield, Liverpool’s tally stood at 103. Mohamed Salah had the latest landmark of his own remarkable campaign, becoming the first man ever to score 20 left-footed goals in a Premier League campaign.
Every match seems to bring a new measure of excellence. Every week offers a further illustration of his impact. Salah’s overall tally stands at 31, as many as Luis Suarez managed in a season for Liverpool.
“Mo is a boy full of greed to score goals,” Klopp said.
Salah has a trademark run that, partly because of its pace and timing, defenders struggle to combat, a diagonal burst from right to left. It took him to similar positions both when he struck the post in the third minute and when he scored, steering an angled shot in with geometric precision.
Salah had been the meat in the sandwich when he played a one-two with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Englishman kept going, bundling through on a run that ended with a return pass. “A nice goal,” Klopp said.
Salah also supplied Emre Can for the opener. He spurned two more golden opportunities.
And yet to present this as the latest episode of the Salah show would be to downplay the involvement of others. Klopp branded his team “a joy to watch. It was one of the best games we have played, 100 per cent". They were collectively irresistible.
The unselfish foil Roberto Firmino was typically prominent. “He deserved a goal,” Klopp said. Firmino got his 22nd of the season. To put it another way, that is more than Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette combined.
Sadio Mane was the least effective of the front three, but still mustered his fourth goal in two games with a deft finish from Andrew Robertson’s precise centre. The left-back was incisive and influential. So, particularly after the break, was Oxlade-Chamberlain. Loris Karius produced a stunning save, tipping Marko Arnautovic’s terrific lob onto the bar, before the deadlock was broken.
Can joined Salah in registering both a goal and an assist, his contributions showing why Liverpool will miss him if and when he decamps for Juventus in the summer.
After both sides struck the woodwork, the German headed in Salah’s corner. “We scored from a set-piece,” Klopp said, aware Liverpool tend to concede from them.
Can outjumped the West Ham debutant Patrice Evra, who was left in no doubt he remains unpopular at Anfield. Salah added to the advantage before Can dispossessed Joao Mario and, summing up the directness in Liverpool’s game, immediately looked for the forward pass. Firmino raced towards it, Adrian slid out of his box, missed the ball and left the Brazilian with a tap in.
It was cruel for Adrian. His damage-limitation exercise had incorporated terrific saves from Mane and Firmino. West Ham could have been routed.
“I don't think as a manager you can expect a game like this,” Klopp added. “Not against a David Moyes team.” Moyes himself said: “I was happy with the first half but not the second.”
The excellent Arnautovic had been West Ham’s lone threat but the substitute Michail Antonio scored within a minute of his introduction. Yet the scoreline means he will not be remembered as inspired change. Moyes’s first 14 trips to Anfield had not produced a win.
A 15th certainly did not.
Premier League predictions: Liverpool thrash West Ham and Tottenham win
Updated: February 24, 2018 10:42 PM