After an uneventful first half dominated by the defenders, there was little indication of the goal-heavy action that was to follow in the second half, as both sides looked decidedly cagey in attack.
However, the deadlock was finally broken by Salah in the 57th minute. The 28-year-old artfully curled a left-footed shot into the far corner to give his side the lead just as the hosts were beginning to ramp up the intensity.
The Egyptian then doubled his own tally along with his side’s by putting the finishing touches on a sumptuous counter-attacking move. Liverpool put the ball in the West Ham net barely 15 seconds after the home side had swung in a corner at the other end.
The game was put out of sight in the 84th minute by another well-worked Liverpool move that Wijnaldum calmly swept home, with Craig Dawson’s 87th-minute goal proving to be scant consolation for the Hammers.
As a result of their win, Liverpool move into third place on the Premier League table, a point behind Manchester United and four behind Manchester City (who have a game in hand) ahead of their clash with Pep Guardiola’s men next Sunday.
Their opponents, West Ham, remain fifth in the table but could be leapfrogged by Tottenham Hotspur, who are two points behind their London rivals with two games in hand.
On that note, here are the five talking points from an engaging clash at the London Stadium.
#1 Liverpool and West Ham are involved in an unlikely top 4 battle
Ahead of the 2020-21 Premier League season, not many would have singled out Liverpool’s trip to West Ham at the end of January as a potential battle for a place in the top 4, especially as deep into the season as we are right now.
However, a variety of factors in this COVID-impacted season led to this being a clash of fifth versus fourth, with David Moyes’ men sitting two points behind the Reds.
A lot of West Ham’s success is down to Moyes’ astute management and the club’s excellent recent recruitment, which has seen the likes of Tomáš Souček, Vladimir Coufal, Saïd Benrahma and others become first-team regulars in a short space of time.
On the other hand, Liverpool have seen injury and fatigue adversely impact their season, with the loss of certain key players rendering them unable to hit the lofty heights they managed to hit in last season’s title-winning campaign.
#2 Jurgen Klopp forced to rotate his team yet again
With injuries to key personnel and workload management to consider, Jurgen Klopp and his staff have had to be extra creative while picking the Liverpool starting eleven this season.
This was the case for this clash as well, with Klopp making three changes to the team that ran out 3-1 winners against Tottenham Hotspur.
While Nathaniel Phillips partnered Jordan Henderson in Liverpool’s latest makeshift defence, the real eye-catching changes came further up the pitch as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were replaced by Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri.
While Firmino had to make do with a place on the bench, Mane missed out on the trip to London entirely due to a slight muscle injury picked up in the win against Spurs.
Given the pace at which the packed schedule is throwing up games this season, squad rotation is likely to continue to be a major concern for Klopp and Liverpool.