Liverpool's attacking trio dazzle in 4-1 rout of subpar West Ham
LIVERPOOL -- Three points from Anfield as Liverpool wrap up a comfortable 4-1 win over West Ham.
1. Liverpool wrap up easy win
Liverpool are gaining serious momentum as they enter the business end of the season. A convincing victory on Saturday moved Jurgen Klopp's side up to second in the Premier League, for the time being at least. Manchester City may be out of sight at the top but finishing runner-up, while participating in the Champions League's final stages, remains a very realistic possibility for Liverpool.
Liverpool took their season's goal tally to over 100 in all competitions as the fearsome trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all scored against West Ham. Emre Can brought up the century when he broke the deadlock in the 29th minute.
The fact that this is a weekend on which Liverpool's rivals either don't play in the league or take points off each other heightened the importance of a win. A slip-up, however, would have opened up the chance of Liverpool being down in fifth by the end of play on Sunday.
Liverpool recently enjoyed a 10-day break, including a warm-weather training camp in Spain, to prepare for this game. Any concerns the gap would lead to a sluggish start were put to bed inside three minutes, when Salah struck the post. From that point on, it looked like West Ham would just be trying to hold on for as long as they possibly could. But against the run of play, the visitors very nearly took the lead with Marko Arnautovic's lovely lofted shot outside the area that was slightly diverted onto the crossbar by Loris Karius.
Liverpool eventually did make their pressure tell. They took a deserved lead close to the half-hour mark in simple fashion when Salah's corner was met with Emre Can's header inside the six-yard box to bring up the 100th goal.
Then, a five-minute period in the second half saw Liverpool race into a 3-0 lead. First, Salah netted his 31st goal of the season with a clinical finish before Firmino rounded Adrian to tap into an empty net. West Ham substitute Michail Antonio made an instant impact as he pulled one back for the London side, but it wasn't a case of Liverpool shutting up shop and holding onto what they had.
Mane atoned for an earlier miss with a delicate finish over Adrian in the 76th minute as Liverpool remained in complete control until the three points and a night in second place were confirmed.
2. Can Liverpool finish higher than fourth?
West Ham's Patrice Evra would probably have preferred to have been eased back into the Premier League having returned on Feb. 7 with a free transfer. Instead, the 36-year-old's debut saw him have to contend with Liverpool's high-flying forward line that has been the main contributor in the team's three-figure goal tally for the season.
While none of them brought the century up, that front trio have been the main source for this season's goals, and their total will inevitably rise considerably with well over two months of the campaign left.
Liverpool's football on Saturday warranted more than just four goals. West Ham's back five were just unable to track the movement and the sheer skill of Salah, Firmino and Mane, along with the supporting cast in Liverpool's midfield.
Klopp's side are arriving into the final stretch hotter than ever and with virtually a clean bill of health. Injury or fatigue to key players appears to be the only thing that can stop the goals from flowing. It looked as if Liverpool would be short in terms of options when Philippe Coutinho wasn't replaced in January, but the team's potency in front of goal has continued since then.
Liverpool limped over the line last season to secure a top-four finish, but on current form, it could very well be different this time around.
3. Moyes fails again at Anfield
With his fourth club and 15 attempts, Moyes is still searching for that elusive victory at Anfield as a manager. As has been the case in the past, his team fell painfully short at Liverpool's home on Saturday.
In fairness to Moyes, seven of his 15 games at Anfield have seen his sides earn draws, but few of them resulted from ambitious, attacking performances. This occasion may have been a different story had one of Arnautovic's stunning efforts came off, but West Ham struggled to offer anything else.
While West Ham fans may not be entirely sure whether Moyes' six-month contract should be extended, one set of supporters are dead set in their belief of the Scot. "10 more years" mocked the Kop when Moyes celebrated his 10th anniversary as Everton manager during a Merseyside derby in March 2012.
"David Moyes is a football genius," sang Liverpool supporters during the closing stages on Saturday.
Supporters always have a case of pessimism every weekend, but that tends to subside at Anfield when Moyes rocks up. Simply put, Liverpool fans view it as a no-lose situation.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.