Jürgen Klopp's squad may have a new face this season, but Liverpool still looked as dynamic as ever against a superior West Ham team.
Liverpool made a lot of noise in the transfer window of the summer and spent a lot of money to improve a team that had played well in the last season, but in the eyes of many with a fourth place in the league was inferior. Manager Jürgen Klopp compared them to Rocky Balboa earlier this week, and Liverpool certainly looked like a heavyweight contender today.
They could count on a successful attack to beat West Ham and start the new campaign with these three important points. Here are three things we learned.
Salah will probably score all goals again
The star of the 2017/18 season struck exactly where he left off against West Ham, and he only needed 19 minutes. Mohamed Salah scored after a great build by his teammates, namely the debut Naby Keita. Liverpool was deadly in the last term in the counter attack and it seems that this aspect of their game will continue to be strong this year.
Sadio Mane is already one of the more creative players in the game. Leaving a midfielder like Keita behind will only increase that creativity. As he showed with Liverpool's early goal, Keita has the opportunity to open up opportunities by pushing the ball deeper and then selecting teammates to run into the gates. For this particular goal, Liverpool's first of the day, Keita continued his run just before the penalty area and then put the ball to defender Andrew Robertson. Robertson found Salah with an inch-perfect flank right in front of goal,
Salah had several chances in the game and the vast majority of them came in high-percentage areas. He had four shots in the game and three were at the finish. Liverpool was dominant today, four to West Ham. The great attention that the Salah teams have to devote to advancing on the field will provide a slight opportunity for his team-mates. Today his ability to open the game led to two goals for Sadio Mane.
Salah scored 32 goals in the Premier League last season and led the competition. He has a swim start today with a goal, and if his teammates continue to build and attack, he could lead the league again.
West Ham will fight against successful teams
The Hammers sometimes lost in defense today, and that is a disturbing sign for Manuel Pellegrini's side. Along with relegated Stoke, West Ham had the worst defensive record in the league last season. After today's performance, this trend could well continue. West Ham had a hard time coping with the attacking options Liverpool had brought, Mane and Salah.
On Manes first goal, which came just before halftime, the defenders seemed to completely lose sight of the hammer. He used the lackluster mark to score one of the easiest goals in his career and hit the ball without any resistance. West Ham had no urgency on defense, could not mark the players and allow runs that led to opportunities. If the Hammers want to improve their disappointing 13th place from a year ago, this can not happen.
Offensively, West Ham's efforts were equally absent. They followed Liverpool for possession, shots and shots. You can not score if you have no chances, and you can not stand a chance if you do not have the ball. The descent in all three areas usually leads to a forgotten day, and that's exactly what it was for the Hammers. The game was particularly frustrating for Marko Arnautovic, West Ham's best choice in the storm. The striker was effectively taken out of the game by the defenders of Liverpool and only scored two shots on goal. None of these shots was at the finish.
West Ham will play Arsenal, Wolves, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United for the next five games. Each of these teams has players who have an opportunity to play against a defense that allows for these types of chances and many goals.
If their form continues from today, it could be a very ugly start to the season for the Hammers.
Alisson did not do much, and that's good
Liverpool caused a sensation this season by signing Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The deal was the largest fee ever paid for a goalkeeper at the time. This fee comes with a lot of responsibility and expectation. Since Liverpool was so clinical in front of the opposition team's goal – and there was no real danger – Alisson did not have much to do.
That's a big difference to Liverpool, who opened the 2017/18 season. The campaign began with a 3: 3 thriller against Watford, which raised questions about Liverpool's shaky defense to open the season. There will be no such investigation this year as Virgil van Dijk lived up to his defense today. Van Dijk cleared the Liverpool backline and gave the Brazilian a stress-free start.
Alisson is expected to make up for the concerns of Loris Karius, who had a very volatile season for the Reds last year. His battles in the Champions League final against Real Madrid are well documented.
Any game will not be as easy as this one for him, especially if Liverpool meets in the Premier League and in the Champions League to a harder competition. Nevertheless, wins and goals create confidence for a goalkeeper, especially in a new league. Although he needed only one rescue, it was a good (albeit uneventful) day for the new Liverpool keeper.