Liverpool talking points from Ian Doyle after 1-0 win over West Ham at Anfield in the Premier League.
Alisson simply the best
If the mark of a good goalkeeper is making vital contributions despite spending most of the game twiddling his thumbs, then no wonder Alisson Becker is regarded arguably the best in the world.
During a one-sided first half, Alisson’s chief concern was avoiding a chill as Liverpool dominated possession against a strangely subdued West Ham United.
That was, of course, until VAR urged Stuart Attwell to take another look at Joe Gomez’s challenge on Jarrod Bowen, the referee eventually awarding the visitors a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Bowen dusted himself down and struck his spot kick well, but Alisson guessed the right way by diving to his right and pushing the ball out. Anfield exploded in a mixture of delight and relief.
The last time the Brazilian had saved a penalty, at Napoli last month, it counted for little as Liverpool were blown out of sight by the Serie A side.
Here, though, he underlined its importance with another save in the closing moments when, with the Reds listing alarmingly in the howling conditions and unable to clear their lines, Tomas Soucek was presented with a glorious opportunity to equalise only to see his effort deflected wide off the leg of the diving goalkeeper.
True, Alisson had been helped out by a last-ditch block from James Milner, but he had earned such assistance. Best in the world? No argument.
Carvalho takes step as Jones provides another option.
A season of selection conundrums coughed up another one for Jurgen Klopp after Diogo Jota was sidelined for several months.
With Luis Diaz already missing until after the World Cup, a vacancy has opened up on the left side of the attack.
Darwin Nunez, who had a busy cameo on the flank after coming off the bench against Manchester City at the weekend, was needed elsewhere. Opportunity, then, knocked for young Fabio Carvalho with a third Premier League start for Liverpool.
There was progress of sorts with the 20-year-old, having not made it beyond half-time on his previous such outings, emerging for the second half before being replaced shortly before the hour.
But it would a stretch to suggest Carvalho was a true winger, instead operating in something akin to an old-fashioned inside left position. And while this was an inconsistent performance – flashes of promise followed by passages of being too easily knocked off the ball – that is to be expected as he adjusts to the higher level.
Carvalho’s replacement, Curtis Jones, was making a welcome first outing since July and will benefit from the minutes, his availability giving Klopp another option on the left.
And Harvey Elliott’s busy cameo of primarily defensive work in the final half-hour demonstrated the teenager is learning the value of doing the dirty work.
Moyes woes continue
This was an evening to be endured rather than enjoyed for Liverpool, a case of the proverbial game of two halves. Getting the job done and maintaining momentum was all that mattered.
Certainly, the Reds were forced to dig in after the break when a combination of the conditions, the lingering effects of Sunday’s game and a marked improvement from West Ham caused consternation in the Anfield stands and, at times, the defence.
Virgil van Dijk, however, remained unruffled, helping Jurgen Klopp’s side keep only a fifth clean sheet of the campaign. It’s now a remarkable 70 home league games unbeaten as a Liverpool player for the Dutchman.
And it was also the first time since April 30 the Reds had scored the first goal in successive games. Amazing how much easier it is to win when you score the opener.
Finally, so continue the Anfield woes of David Moyes, now winless at the stadium after 19 attempts as a manager with Everton, Manchester United, Sunderland and West Ham. Only Bobby Robson, with 23, has visited more often as a manager without securing at least one triumph.