Liverpool took on West Ham United in their opening game of the new Premier League season as Klopp’s men aimed to get off to a quick start and grab all three points in their bid to challenge for the title. Manuel Pellegrini could not have asked for a more difficult opening game as he took charge of the London side in his first game as their manager. The match ended up being one sided as Liverpool scored four with Naby Keita in particular playing a very crucial role in Liverpool’s setup. I shall break it down in the form of snippets below with the aid of animations to back my points.
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- Naby Keita’s presence has enabled Liverpool to alter their attacking shape a bit. Mane and Salah in particular have been able to tuck in and occupy the West Ham’s backline allowing Liverpool’s fullbacks to overlap. Keita is crucial here in offering the link from midfield to final third
- Keita has been instrumental in occupying higher positions on the pitch and making Liverpool’s midfield shape resemble a 2-1 structure. Rice and Noble have left large spaces in behind them, promptly occupied by Keita, who has provided connections to all sides in the final third
- Despite changes at half time, West Ham failed to address their issues from the first half. Liverpool were able to exploit West Ham’s left side where there was a large gap between Wilshere and Antonio. Keita and Firmino often received in such spaces, in behind WHU’s midfield
Jurgen Klopp would have been happy seeing this performance from Keita and his side as a whole as they were largely untroubled by a lacklustre West Ham side. Keita looks to be a massive coup for Liverpool and is bound to only keep getting better. His arrival has sparked a lot of changes in shape and patterns in possession and attack in the final third for Liverpool and offers them a new dimension to what they had the previous season.