They are far from their fluent best, but Liverpool inevitably still found a way to win here at Anfield, to reach another remarkable milestone in the club’s glittering history.
For the third time in a row here in the Premier League they conceded first, and looked distinctly weary against a well organised West Ham side, who were set up brilliantly by their manager David Moyes to cause maximum damage on the break.
But if the legs are not exactly willing, then the Reds’ resilience remains intact, and Diego Jota’s third goal in a week was enough to not only to put them top of the table going into November, but also set an astonishing record.
The win means they have now gone 63 league games unbeaten at this famous old stadium – which has witnessed so much stirring legend – equalling the record held by Bob Paisley’s team set between 1978-80.
That puts into startling context what Jurgen Klopp has achieved with this side, who must go down now as amongst the best ever Liverpool teams, after surpassing so many of the truly great outfits that have graced this turf.
And if ever a game showed why this team deserves such an accolade it was this one. They have now gone behind in ALL their league games here this season, and somehow won the lot. That shows a mental strength currently unmatched anywhere else in world football.
For much of the game, you feared that remarkable sequence would end. Yet slowly, inexorably, Liverpool clawed their way back into the game, as they took the Hammers sting from them on the break, and eventually produced enough to claim thoroughly deserved, if supremely hard fought, victory.
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Jota was the hero again, his three goals this week all coming at Anfield, and coming in three different games. His price-tag may have been eye-watering, but his contribution already suggests it will be money well spent.
Yet while the Portugal international will steal the headlines, an equally important contribution came from Nat Philiips, making his Premier League debut at the age of 23…and showing the composure and aerial ability to solve Klopp’s defensive headache at centre half.
He won everything in the air, didn’t panic in the face of West Ham’s swift counterattacking, and showed his worth at the end, with a towering header from the final corner to relieve the pressure on his side.
It was moment that had Klopp fist-pumping. And no wonder. The visitors are in fine form and a real danger, and yet Liverpool again found a way to win, even with so many players missing.
They were lethargic in the first half, poor even, and yet again conceded from the first shot on target, as an error from Joe Gomez in the 10th minute – as his weak header went back to centre of the penalty area – allowed Pablo Fornals to finish superbly.
Fornals was the visitors’ most dangerous player, and he carved out two more glorious chances to punish the Champions, when first he shot tamely from close range, and then shot against Andy Robertson, with each time the goal at his mercy.
They huffed and puffed, but Liverpool eventually got back into the game just before half time, when Arthur Masuaku was unwise in lunging at Salah, who went down in instalments, and then got up to convert the penalty.
It was a foul, but perhaps a slightly soft penalty, but that was balanced by another strange VAR decision, who asked referee Kevin Friend to look again at what everyone thought was a winner for Jota on 77 minutes. The official decided Sadio Mane had fouled in build up, though it looked harsh.
No matter, because Liverpool in this mood are relentless, even if they lack their usual audacious quality at the moment. Jota simply got another winner – and with perhaps the best move of the game, as fellow sub Xherdan Shaqiri sent him through with an exquisite ball, that got an equally excellent finish.
It means the Reds head into November in their now familiar position at the top of the Premier League, and they have the cavalry returning too, with Thaigo, Naby Keita, Joel Matip and Kostas Tsimikas all due back in training this week.
That will take the pressure off tired legs, and with Phillips showing he can provide some aerial presence to solve an obvious weakness at the back in Virgil van Dijk’s absence, the temporary gloom of that seems to be lifting from Anfield.
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