Liverpool put hammer down
HAPLESS HAMMERS HAD NO ANSWER AT ANFIELD
Mohamed Salah was on target again as Liverpool showed they can challenge champions Manchester City for the Premier League title by sweeping aside West Ham 4-0 at Anfield.
Sadio Mane scored twice and Daniel Sturridge added a late fourth in an impressive display by Juergen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool, champions of England in 1989/90, finished 25 points behind City last season.
But after reaching the Champions League final last season and spending more than anyone else in the Premier League in the off-season, there is palpable belief that the near three-decade wait can come to an end in May.
Midfielder Naby Keita and Alisson were the only debutants to start from a reported £170 million summer splurge in the transfer market as Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri had to make do with a place on the bench.
However, there was little tinkering for Klopp to do up front after Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino combined for 91 goals last season, and they again provided the firepower to outclass a sorry West Ham despite a near £100m outlay on nine new players.
Salah and Mane’s pain at international level was Liverpool’s gain as early exits at the World Cup with Egypt and Senegal meant they could join the club’s pre-season tour of the United States, unlike a host of Premier League stars who returned to training just last week after their efforts in Russia.
A revelation in his first season at Anfield with 44 goals in all competitions, Salah is now a marked man.
Yet, he was given the simplest of tasks to tap the opener into an empty net on 19 minutes from Andy Robertson’s pinpoint cross after he was freed down the left by the impressive Keita.
Salah should have had more as he was well picked out by a bursting run by Firmino only to place his shot too close to Lukasz Fabianski, who also made a brilliant save to turn Trent Alexander-Arnold’s freekick behind.
Fabianski was by far the busier goalkeeper with the Reds’ £67m signing Alisson making just one comfortable save and impressing far more with his feet to launch a series of Liverpool attacks.
The hosts finally doubled their lead to give the score the halftime reflection it deserved when another teasing Robertson cross was squared by James Milner and Mane was left unmarked to sidefoot home.
Mane produced a fine finish for his second eight minutes after the break after good work by Firmino, but had the linesman to thank as he somehow wasn’t flagged offside before beating Fabianski.
BRACE. Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring his second goal in their 4-0 drubbing of West Ham United at Anfield yesterday.