Benteke is too static to be the No1 striker at Anfield: Five things we learned from West Ham 2 Liverpool 0
It’s little wonder that Jurgen Klopp is not convinced by Benteke, Manuel Lanzini will be sorely missed and other things we learned from West Ham 2 Liverpool 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Benteke must be more single-minded
For a player who had scored winners in his previous two matches, Benteke seemed alarmingly thin on conviction and the single-minded desire to create space and fashion goalscoring chances. Against the Hammers, the Belgian was content to receive the ball with his back to goal and then lay it off to the midfield runners before ambling into the box to receive crosses from out wide. “You’re just a s*** Carlton Cole,” sang the delirious home fans at 2-0. Little wonder that Jurgen Klopp is still not totally convinced by Benteke. The manager wants more movement and mobility from his front man. Benteke is too static to be the No1 striker at Anfield.
Liverpool lack mobility in middle of park
Without injured duo Jordan Henderson and James Milner, Liverpool lack mobility in central midfield. Anchorman Lucas, recalled after being dropped in the wake of his Watford horror show, and the more creative Emre Can have their qualities but neither could be termed ‘box-to-box’. In the first half, Liverpool were pulled apart by the mobility of attacking midfield trio Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and Enner Valencia, and it was not a coincidence that West Ham offered a considerably greater attacking threat.
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Lanzini will be sorely missed
On the day that Dimitri Payet made his long-awaited return from injury, the other jewel in the West Ham crown suffered a muscle injury that is likely to sideline him for the rest of January. Manuel Lanzini was substituted at the 37-minute mark after damaging his thigh, but not before he had looked the best player on the pitch. The 22-year-old Argentine slammed the crossbar with one searing shot and moved the ball around superbly as the home side ran the visitors’ backline ragged. He will be sorely missed during his absence.
The Benteke support act is malfunctioning
The Belgian will be widely criticised in the wake of his disappointing performance at Upton Park but he is not helped by the fact that Liverpool are not playing in a way that gets the best out of him. The likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana prefer quick combination passing in tight spaces rather than to feed off a tower forward. They are ill-suited to Benteke’s game, and vice versa.
Poor Liverpool away performances are nothing new
Liverpool have now lost three of their last four away matches, and failed to score in any of them. West Ham followed Watford and Newcastle by comfortably conquering the Merseysiders. It increasingly appears that the wondrous away wins at Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton were one-offs rather than the taste of things to come. Liverpool were very poor at Upton Park. The attacking players were off the boil and the more defensive ones failed to take responsibility. Klopp’s squad is bursting with mediocrity.