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West Ham United 1-3 Liverpool: 5 talking points as Reds leapfrog Leicester City to go third in the table | Premier League 2020-21

Vaibhav Joshi
ANALYST
Modified 01 Feb 2021
Feature

#3 Could Nat Phillips solve Liverpool’s defensive crisis?

Nat Phillips was extremely assured at centre-back for Liverpool
Nat Phillips was extremely assured at centre-back for Liverpool

With long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as well as the patchy injury record of Joel Matip, Liverpool have had to chop and change their centre-back pairing this season.

While Fabinho has been doing a commendable job filling in at centre-back, he has been partnered by Jordan Henderson, Rhys Williams, and Phillips this season, with varying degrees of success.

Against West Ham, it was Phillips who got the nod, and this opportunity was one he took with both hands by delivering a calm and composed performance alongside Henderson.

Up against the formidable threat of Michail Antonio, Phillips was virtually unbeatable in the air and more than held his own with the ball on the ground, helping to keep the West Ham attack at bay.

As such, with rumours of Liverpool being in the transfer market for a centre-back floating around, Phillips definitely made a case for a run in the starting lineup with his display against West Ham.

#4 Liverpool slowly finding their swagger once again

Mo Salah
Mo Salah's superbly-taken second goal was the highlight of Liverpool' excellent attacking display

After a resounding 7-0 thumping of Crystal Palace on December 19, it was widely expected that Liverpool were going to replicate their title-winning juggernaut of last season and romp to the title this season as well.

However, what followed was a rotten run of form that no one saw coming, with the Reds having to wait over a month to register their next league win after their thrashing of Palace.

Draws against West Brom, Newcastle and Manchester United, along with defeats against Southampton and Burnley, saw them drop to fourth in the table, with a defeat against Manchester United also sealing their exit from the FA Cup.

However, the signs that Liverpool were finding their feet again were there, and the first statement of intent was sent out with a comfortable victory over Tottenham Hotspur in London.

While they took a little while to find their feet against West Ham, the Reds seemed to find another gear in the second half, scoring three sensational goals en route to a well-deserved win.

Having racked up back-to-back comfortable wins over tough opposition and played some sumptuous football along the way, the rest of the Premier League would do well to take note of Liverpool’s growing resurgence.

With a huge clash against league leaders Manchester City looming on the horizon, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are well aware that there is no time to rest on their laurels as challenges come thick and fast this season.

#5 The 2020-21 Premier League season continues to be impossible to predict

After momentarily slipping to fourth in the table, Liverpool are looking in ominous form once again
After momentarily slipping to fourth in the table, Liverpool are looking in ominous form once again

If the previous Premier League season was a totally one-sided win, this season is proving to be anything but, with no less than 9 different teams having ended the day atop the standings even as the season is at its halfway point.

Title challenges and top-four pushes have been mounted and have fizzled out as the season continues to throw up one surprise after another.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are the perfect example of the unpredictable nature of the season, having dispelled early-season talks of a crisis to now leading the pack, with a game in hand over their closest opponents.

Manchester United, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur are also in and around the top 4 places, with West Ham acting as the season’s dark horse, albeit with all these clubs struggling to find consistency with their results.

Liverpool have also struggled to replicate their title-winning form from last season, but seem to have overcome a mid-season slump to mount a renewed title charge.

As a result, with teams dropping points unexpectedly up and down the table, mouth-watering clashes being played out every week, and no league position being safe, this season promises to be a nail-biter right down to the final week of fixtures.

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Published 01 Feb 2021
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