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Darwin Nunez leads Liverpool charge as Alisson comes to Reds’ rescue – 6 talking points

LIVERPOOL 1-0 WEST HAM UNITED: Darwin Nunez’s first-half goal and Alisson’s penalty save from Jarrod Bowen kept Jurgen Klopp’s side on top against West Ham United.

 

Liverpool went into Wednesday’s game against West Ham United looking to build on their weekend victory over Manchester City, and they

 

Jurgen Klopp’s men recorded a narrow 1-0 win over the Hammers last season, and the opening 20 minutes brought few chances for either team. The Reds didn’t need a huge chance in order to take the lead, though, with Darwin Nunez heading home a Kostas Tsimikas cross to put them in front midway through the first half before coming close to a second when he hit the post.

 

The visitors squandered a glorious chance to equalise just before the break, only for Alisson to keep out Jarrod Bowen’s penalty. David Moyes’ side were never truly out of the game while the score was 1-0, though, and the home side needed defensive heroics from James Milner to deny Tomas Soucek an equaliser at the death.

 

It wasn’t the prettiest performance for Klopp’s side, but that won’t matter too much. It’s a second win in a row for last season’s Premier League runners-up, and they remain very much in the hunt for a top-four finish this time around.

 

Nunez staking a claim

Darwin Nunez went into Wednesday’s game looking to add another goal or more after scoring in his last two starts. The Uruguayan was still waiting for his first Anfield goal since joining Liverpool, and faced a challenge against centre-back Kurt Zouma.

 

While a fair amount of the former Benfica man’s threat has come inside the box, he showed he can operate from a deeper starting spot and use his deceptive pace. This was evident in the first period when he forced a save from Lukasz Fabianski with a dipping shot, and he looked like a man on a mission.It was Darwin Nunez who broke the deadlock for Liverpool

It was Darwin Nunez who broke the deadlock for Liverpool

Sure enough, it was Nunez who broke the deadlock, rising brilliantly to nod a Tsimikas cross into the far corner after avoiding Zouma and getting isolated against the less experienced Thilo Kehrer. He could have added a second soon after following a defensive lapse from West Ham, with the goal appearing to give him confidence to look for more

Nunez also hit the post during an action-packed display, and it was a bit of a surprise to see him withdrawn before the hour mark. Still, with Klopp’s attacking options thin on the ground, the manager will be looking to get a lot more out of the summer signing in weeks to come and will have been encouraged by what happened on Wednesday night.

Carvalho’s audition

With Diogo Jota suffering an injury against Manchester City on Sunday, Liverpool’s options on the left were limited. Luis Diaz was already on the treatment table, freeing up Fabio Carvalho to step in for a rare start.

 

However, rather than a like-for-like switch, the former Fulham man played in addition to Nunez, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. This saw him encouraged to drift further inside, allowing Tsimikas to provide width outside him.Fabio Carvalho didn't have his best game in Liverpool colours

Fabio Carvalho didn’t have his best game in Liverpool colours

It was a subdued performance from the Portugal under-21 international, though. When he made way shortly before the hour mark, there was a feeling that he hadn’t quite done enough to make his case for more regular football.

Trent given Southgate chance

Gareth Southgate was in the stands at Anfield, and Trent Alexander-Arnold had a chance to impress. With a real danger of both Reece James and Kyle Walker missing out on the World Cup, it might have even counted as an audition.

There was one dangerous-looking cross inside the opening 10 minutes which was fired a bit too close to Fabianski in the visitors’ goal. His defensive responsibilities may have been a concern as well after recent headlines and comments, though, and Klopp and Southgate alike will have been pleased to see how he dealt with the threat of Pablo Fornals early on.

West Ham attempted to peg back Alexander-Arnold in the second half, with Gianluca Scamacca pushing left at times and Said Benrahma replacing Pablo Fornals down the right-back’s flank. He held his own, though, and was able to avoid any particularly hairy moments,

 

Jones welcomed backCurtis Jones made his long-awaited return to the fold

Curtis Jones made his long-awaited return to the fold

Curtis Jones has had a torrid time with injuries of late, with a stress fracture of the tibia among the setbacks for the academy talent. His only appearance so far this season had come in the Community Shield, so it was a welcome sight to see him emerge shortly before the hour mark.

The 21-year-old wasn’t the only recent injury victim on the bench, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also named among the substitutes Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to wait to make his own return, though.

The loss of Diaz and Jota in attack will force Klopp to use his full squad, and he’ll take any return he can get with open arms. And it was almost a fairytale return for Jones, who came close to putting his team two goals to the good.

Tsimikas still unpredictable

Jurgen Klopp faced a decision on the left, and it was Greek international Kostas Tsimikas who got the nod over Andy Robertson as the manager continued to shuffle his pack and ease the Scot back in. With danger-man Jarrod Bowen on the right for the Hammers, it was perhaps surprising to see the number 21 pushed so far forward in the first half,

There were still some questions defensively, at least in a positional sense, and he was not where he should have been when Joe Gomez moved across to bring down Bowen for the Hammers’ penalty. While Robertson himself hasn’t been firing on all cylinders after an injury-affected campaign, it was a reminder of the high standards which any Liverpool starter needs to meet.

Bowen reminding Liverpool of Alisson’s valueAlisson came up trumps to deny Jarrod Bowen from 12 yards

Alisson came up trumps to deny Jarrod Bowen from 12 yards

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