The United manager was again the focus of attention after his team slipped to a sixth defeat in 12 matches across all competitions. Losing the Manchester derby means United are nine points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea after just 11 games.
But despite growing speculation over Solskjaer’s future, there remains no indication from the club hierarchy that a change is imminent and as things stand he will be in charge for United’s next game.
That comes at Watford on November 20 and should the board’s existing position be maintained, the Norwegian will get another chance to improve the fortunes of a club who are 20-time English champions but have not won the title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2012-13 retirement season.
The City result followed a similarly one-sided home loss to arch-rivals Liverpool in the previous home game and is sure to test the resolve of United’s leadership as they hold regular talks during the international break. Those in power still want Solskjaer to succeed but it is unclear for how long that desire can override the reality.
The Reds faced a tough Premier League encounter on Sunday, coming up against the fourth-place Hammers at the London Stadium.
From minute one, Liverpool didn’t look to be at the races and they went on to suffer a depressing afternoon in east London.
In truth, this wasn’t a game littered with good displays, so we’ll focus on the other end of the spectrum.
Alisson (3.6) took home the dreaded lowest average rating, with the Brazilian lacking for all three goals.
TIA were left hugely disappointed with the Brazilian’s showing, saying he was “not strong or sure enough” for the opener and got worse from that point on.
The second-worst player on the day was Andy Robertson (4.7), who is experiencing a bad run of form at present time.
The Echo‘s Ian Doyle claimed the Scot “had an absolute stinker second half”, with pressure now on him to keep his place over Kostas Tsimikas.
Also in the bottom-three was Diogo Jota (5.2), who failed to make a notable impact in the capital.
The Portugal international lost eight duels, according to FotMob, and he only played 17 accurate passes throughout his 76-minute showing.
And Liverpool’s highest-rated player was Trent Alexander-Arnold (6.3), largely due to his beauty of a free-kick.
Even he was far from blameless, however, with TIA noting that he was “sleeping for the third goal,” with Kurt Zouma ghosting in at the back post.
It’s now time for yet another international break – how many have there been this season! – with the Reds returning to action at home to Arsenal on November 20 (5.30pm GMT).
“It’s a clear foul on Alisson. How can it not be? The arm from (Angelo) Ogbonna is up there,” bemoaned Jurgen Klopp when asked about West Ham United’s controversial opener when his goalkeeper appealed in vain for a free kick.
Klopp was also adamant that West Ham United’s Aaron Cresswell should have been sent off for the “reckless challenge” that left Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson in a heap soon after. On both occasions, VAR backed referee Craig Pawson’s initial judgement. Alisson was guilty of being far too passive under pressure when Pablo Fornals’ corner was swung towards him but Cresswell was unquestionably fortunate to escape censure.
How different Sunday’s chastening trip to the capital could have been if those big decisions had gone in Liverpool’s favour. However, in the cold light of day, this was no hard-luck story. Klopp’s men only had themselves to blame after their proud 25-game unbeaten run in all competitions bit the dust.
The reality is that Liverpool got exactly what they deserved as West Ham punished an error-strewn second-half display.
Liverpool dropped to fourth in the table after what was a disappointing result going into the international break, losing 3-2 away to a battling West Ham side.West Ham 3-2 Liverpool
Premier League (11), London Stadium
November 7, 2021
Goals: Alisson OG 4′, Fornals 67′, Zouma 74′; Alexander-Arnold 41′, Origi 82′Alisson to blame?
Set pieces are one of West Ham‘s favourite routes to goal, and it proved to be so again as Pablo Fornals opened the scoring directly from a corner.
Not before a VAR check, though, as the traffic around Alisson meant there was always the potential for a foul on the goalkeeper.
The officials seemed to focus on the presence of Angelo Ogbonna, as he was the closest to Alisson when the Brazilian challenged for the ball.
But the real problem for the goalkeeper was Michail Antonio who was on top of him, perhaps even holding him, right until the last second as the ball came in. This prevented Alisson from getting a run at the ball and from being able to leap higher.
In the end, it wasn’t a foul by Ogbonna, but neither can Alisson be blamed too much for the incident due to the presence of Antonio.
He could have hung back, he could have made more of the initial contact from the striker, but there was little else he could have done as Fornals’ corner floated directly into the goal.
The entire defence didn’t cover themselves in glory, and only Virgil van Dijk can emerge with any credit, but Alisson could have done better for the second goal as he was only able to get a weak hand on Fornals’ shot.
It wasn’t the best afternoon for the Brazilian, but it’s very rare a goalkeeper will go an entire season without a game like this.
Unfortunately for Alisson, many of those in front of him were just as bad.Finally a free-kick
Liverpool haven’t felt like a threat from free-kicks in recent times, despite Trent Alexander-Arnold having scored the odd one.
But the foul on Mohamed Salah occurred an ideal distance from goal to get the ball up and over a wall.
Liverpool worked the free-kick to the point it didn’t even have to go over the blockers as Alexander-Arnold rolled it for Salah to control before the right-back curled it around the wall and into the top corner.
The last free-kick Trent scored came against Chelsea at the end of the 2019/20 season, so this was a welcome strike – and maybe one Liverpool were due.Another missed chance in the title race
This result plus the recent draw with Brighton were missed opportunities for the Reds to really make a statement at the top of the table.
But Liverpool have failed to capitalise on dropped points by their rivals on both occasions, and are now even behind their most recent opponents in the table.
West Ham‘s position in the table isn’t a fluke or just a lucky early run from an outsider. They have the potential to do well against top teams and have already knocked both Man City and Man United out of the League Cup.
Going into this weekend the Hammers had one of the tightest defences in the league, in so much as they didn’t allow the opposition to create good quality chances.
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) November 5, 2021
They are very good at turning their defensive shape into an attacking one on the break without leaving gaps, and this was exactly what they did in this win.
If Liverpool are to challenge for the title they should be performing better than this, but that West Ham were able to beat them isn’t as surprising as it might have been in previous seasons.Premier League focus for the next three months
An international break on the back of a defeat is never fun: a long two weeks to dwell on a loss and no game in a few days to bounce back and quell the negativity.
But it at least allows the Liverpool players to regroup and it is also more time for Firmino, who was greatly missed against West Ham, to recover without missing games.
The Reds return to action with three home games in a row at the end of November, with the first of those a chance to show they mean business against an improved Arsenal side.
It’s an opportunity to get back to form by winning three in a row in two separate competitions.
With the Champions League wrapped up, they need to plan around this year’s league games rather than thinking about potential prize money for winning games in Europe.
Staying in the Premier League title race is the most important thing.
Here are three key points from Klopp’s press conference following the defeat at West Ham:
[embedded content]1. ‘We lost patience’
The composure and control that defined this Liverpool team was not on show on Sunday, with West Ham capitalising on critical errors and what the boss cited as a lack of patience.
While Liverpool dominated the ball, the control was not there and it cost the Reds dearly.
“They scored from a set-piece, from a counter-attack and from a set-piece. The second one was exceptionally well taken and a fantastic finish from Zouma.
“But that all shouldn’t have happened because we should have controlled the game in the second half, and for whatever reason it looked like we lost patience.
“Like we didn’t have enough clear cut chances so we wanted to change the wrong things, our passing changed too early, we had to do that high up the pitch so we were better protected.”2. A foul on Alisson
The first incident and talking point of the match came inside just four minutes with Alisson credited with an own goal after being unable to clear the corner.
The Brazilian was adamant he was impeded and Klopp was of a similar view and discussed the over-reliance of VAR in situations such as those.
“I think it’s a clear foul on Alisson, how can it not be? The arm from Ogbonna is there,” Klopp said.
“I don’t know who was VAR today and we always have to say in the game maybe the ref can’t see that but when you see the dynamic of the whole situation, they’re in each other – how can that not be a foul already?
“But the ref made it easier for himself and thought, ‘c’mon let’s see what the VAR is seeing’ and VAR had a look and said not clear and obvious. I don’t know why.”3. And a “clear red card”
The second debate centred around Aaron Cresswell and his reckless challenge on Jordan Henderson, which many viewed as a red card.
Craig Pawson failed to award a foul and VAR waved the challenge on, much to the bemusement of Liverpool fans and the manager.
“I only saw the situation with Aaron and Hendo now and the way I saw it, it’s a clear red card.
“There’s actually no discussion possible and it will probably be because he touched the ball before.
“You cannot go like this into a challenge. We cannot make these decisions, and the ref I don’t know what he would say about that now.”
Liverpool arrived at the London Stadium knowing that if they avoided defeat they would extend their unbeaten run to 26 matches, beating the club’s all-time record set by Bob Paisley’s team in 1982.
They looked on course to do just that following a wonderful free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
But West Ham have lofty ambitions themselves this season and proved it in the second half when Pablo Fornals, whose corner had been palmed in by Reds keeper Alisson for the opening goal, broke away to score a second.
Kurt Zouma then headed a third and although Divock Origi pulled one back with seven minutes remaining, the Hammers held on for a notable victory.
However, Klopp was adamant West Ham’s first goal should not have stood as Angelo Ogbonna had impeded Alisson, and he felt Aaron Cresswell should have been red-carded for a first-half challenge over the top of the ball on Jordan Henderson.
He said: “In the first half we had complete control of game, scored a wonderful equaliser and were in charge of the game.
“In the second half they scored from a counter and a set-piece. But also that happened because we should have controlled the game still in the second half. It looked like we lost patience.
“So we lost that game. But I think it’s a clear foul on Alisson, how can it not be? When you see the dynamic of the situation how can that not be a foul?
“Then I saw only the situation with Aaron and Hendo now, and the way I see it is it’s a clear red card. There is no discussion. You cannot go like this into a challenge.”
A memorable win, David Moyes’ first in eight attempts against Klopp, saw West Ham leapfrog Liverpool into third place heading into the international break.
“I think we’re there on merit. You can see the quality and attitude of the players,” said Hammers boss Moyes.
“I want us to challenge the teams in the top four, whoever that may be. I’ve laid down that challenge to the players. Hopefully one of them could be us.
“Today was a challenge, Liverpool have been in such good form, But we’ve got some resilience, and counter-attacking and corner kicks are not a bad recipe.
“The biggest thing is this is a busy workload for any club. Look at the run of games we’ve got, while we are still growing the seeds of how we are going to become this better team.
“I want us to be competitive. I hope before now people were thinking West Ham’s a tough game. Today’s opposition have very little weaknesses. I want to give the players the credit they deserve.”