Liverpool’s Dominant MidfieldThe return of Lucas Leiva continues to spell a future for Liverpool. The Brazilian completed more passes than any other player during the match. His influence has made Liverpool’s midfield more dynamic and well rounded. When played alongside Allen, both players can adeptly cover for their opposite, giving each the freedom to roam with the ball and sit deep when out of possession.
Gerrard operated slightly higher. He completed the most attacking third passes of any player. The Liverpool favorite also showed a great degree of discipline. He frequently challenged West Ham’s attacks in midfield, ending the matching with more tackles than any of his teammates with 4 successful challenges. West Ham’s two central midfielders, Mahamed Diame and Mark Noble, were stretched in their attempts to cover Liverpool’s narrow play. Liverpool constantly had a man free, forcing the two West Ham players to constantly be hustling two against three. Noble ended the match with 5 tackles, but it failed to contain Liverpool’s possession. The first goal is illustrative of the space West Ham’s midfield left for exploitation. Both of them attempted to press high against Liverpool’s central players. This allowed Johnson to cut inward into the center of West Ham’s defensive third and fire home a stunning opener. Joe Cole’s goal also showed a weakness in defensive directly above the backline. Raheem Sterling was covered by both central players as he drifted deep. This left enough room for Joe Cole to slip behind the line. His finish was excellent; the run was equally clinical and astute.