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Liverpool’s season might have just turned on its head in just seven days

Liverpool made it back-to-back Premier League wins with a 1-0 victory over West Ham at Anfield thanks to Darwin Nunez’s goal.

 

If there is something tangible to be found at the end of this Liverpool season, then the last seven days might just prove to be seminal for Jurgen Klopp.

 

After reigniting their spark with seven goals at Rangers last week, back-to-back home victories by the slender margin of 1-0 against Manchester City and West Ham United may have finally got the Reds rolling in the Premier League.

 

And if the Kop has a new doyen in match-winner Darwin Nunez, it was an old favourite down the other end that proved just as important to this triumph. Quite how Alisson Becker kept out Tomas Soucek late on only the Liverpool goalkeeper will know. Add that to his first-half penalty save from Jarrod Bowen and the Reds have their brilliant Brazilian between the sticks to thank for a massively important three points.

 

The best in the world,” claimed Andy Robertson after Alisson’s assist had helped Mohamed Salah see off City on Sunday and you won’t find anyone who disagrees around these parts. “He showed what a world-class goalkeeper he is,” was Kostas Tsimikas’s post-match appraisal too.

 

Klopp made as many as five changes for the visit of David Moyes’s men as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Nunez, Fabio Carvalho, Tsimikas and Jordan Henderson all returned to an adventurous lineup.

 

Liverpool had the lead shortly after 20 minutes when Tsimikas’s cross was met by a textbook header from Nunez, who expertly got across his marker before nodding downwards past Lukasz Fabianski for his first goal at Anfield. Remarkably, that effort meant the Reds had opened the scoring in successive games for just the first time in 21 fixtures, dating back to April 30.

 

Immediately the fans burst into the ‘Nunez’ chant as he celebrated the milestone moment. The £64m striker spent the first half on something of a one-man crusade to breach West Ham’s rearguards. Before his goal, his dipping left-footed effort was well saved by the Hammers goalkeeper before another rasping drive on the edge of the box struck the post later in the half.

 

Liverpool have clearly bought potential with the 23-year-old. Nunez is raw and powerful with a skittish energy that sees him harass and hurry opposition defenders whenever they are in possession. One closing down of Ben Johnson after chasing his own flick-on was warmly appreciated by the fans as the Reds built up another attack. It’s now three goals in as many starts too for the former Benfica man, whose progress continues at pace.

 

There will clearly be a period of adjustment for both the team and the player before they are at full speed with Nunez leading the line but the early signs are that it will be a lot of fun watching his all-action efforts on a week-to-week basis. His standing ovation as he left for Curtis Jones before the hour mark was deserved.

 

West Ham had the chance to level on the cusp of half-time after referee Stuart Attwell had consulted with the monitor after an incident involving Joe Gomez and Bowen in the penalty area. The former Hull striker stepped up from 12 yards but was denied by Alisson’s spring to his right. He was deservedly mobbed by his team-mates.

 

Jones arrived as part of a triple substitution that saw Fabinho and Harvey Elliott introduced for Thiago Alcantara and Carvalho before the hour mark. The changes led to the hosts losing a considerable measure of control, though, as Moyes’s side slowly felt their way into the game.

 

After Gianluca Scamacca had wasted a great chance on the break, Klopp sent on James Milner and Robertson for Roberto Firmino and Tsimikas to see things out with 10 minutes to go. They were the sort of wizened arrivals the Reds needed as they started to see their grip on the match loosened.

 

And as the tension and nerves were ramped up to uncomfortable levels in the final throes it was left to Alisson to pull off a truly stunning stop that almost came off his legs via an important challenge from Milner. In a season of widespread underperformance so far, the goalkeeper has remained at elite level. He is a world-class operator.

 

Pep Guardiola walked away from this venue on Sunday evening muttering “this is Anfield” on repeat to anyone who would listen after his side’s loss and no other stadium has proven quite so imposing for the Catalan across his decorated career. But if there’s one manager who can best sympathise with the Man City boss about just how difficult it is to get a result here, then it is Moyes.

 

Across a 20-year career that has been mainly spent in England’s top flight with Everton, Manchester United, Sunderland and West Ham, the Scot has never won at Anfield. It was something he acknowledged in his pre-match media dealings, saying: “Probably in football terms it’s the hardest place to go and win a football game for anyone.” The Hammers manager speaks from experience; it’s now 18 without victory for him, equalling his own record for away-day misery at both Chelsea and Arsenal.

 

The key for Liverpool now is to use the best seven days of the season so far to reinstall that same belief clearly held by both Guardiola and Moyes about the power Anfield has to influence football results. If further proof was needed, it almost had the adverse effect here as the anxiety spread across the stadium late on.

 

Of course, Klopp’s side remain unbeaten here since March 2021 in the Premier League but draws with Crystal Palace and Brighton have already proven to be quite damaging.

 

If they are to scale themselves back up towards the loftier heights in this division, it has to be built on home form first and foremost. This, after all, was just Liverpool’s fourth win in 10 this term. There is a sense, however, that this group of players are starting to regain their confidence, their swagger and, most importantly of all, their identity.

 

Six more points are available for Klopp’s men at Anfield before the pause for the World Cup and a maximum return against Leeds United and Southampton simply has to be the outcome.

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