Johnson Carragher Skrtel Konchesky
Kuyt Meireles Poulsen Maxi
Kuyt 27' (pen)
An attacking 4-2-2-2 system allowed to dominate every phase of the game. A hapless opposition content to sit back and be annihilated. If Liverpool weren't on cruise control for the entire second half, it could have been a cricket score. West Ham really were that bad. But a win's a win, especially this season, and any cause for optimism is warmly welcomed.
It was only a matter of time before Liverpool opened the scoring. The home side created three chances in as many minutes as Johnson bombed forward, Maxi perpetually found space in dangerous positions, and Ngog held up play well. Meanwhile, West Ham set up in a poor copy of Liverpool's usual away tactics: more than content giving opposition defenders and midfielders time on the ball. They quickly paid the price for it, with Liverpool finally cohesive in attack and with fullbacks eager to get forward.
Hodgson's criticism of Glen Johnson's been thoroughly discussed and overblown, which made the fullback's opener – albeit from a corner – even more gratifying. Johnson was Liverpool's most ambitious player from the start, constantly looking to get to the byline, and deserved his 18th-minute strike, chesting down Meireles' corner and slotting past Green.
Liverpool continued to take the game to West Ham, given the green light by a midfield desperately missing Scott Parker, and Kuyt made it two in the 27th after Gabbidon handled Torres' flick. Maxi added a third in the 38th, left alone in West Ham's box to easily head in Konchesky's cross, four minutes Gabbidon cleared his volley off the line.
From there, it looked as if the scoreline could have been whatever Liverpool wanted. But West Ham were marginally better in the second half, bringing on the winger Barrera for the ineffective Obinna, shifting to more of a 4-4-2, while Liverpool were happy to maintain the three-goal lead. But the Reds could have added more if Probert gave a deserved second penalty for another Gabbidon handball when trying to defend Torres, or if Green didn't come up with two magnificent saves on Torres and Poulsen's efforts in the 73rd.
Finally, Hodgson made substitutions in the final 15 minutes – first, Aurelio for Ngog followed by Shelvey for Meireles and Babel for Torres with less than 10 to play. It would have been nice to see all three sooner with the match dead and buried, but it's a small complaint after such a comprehensive win.
I'm well aware of the maxim that you can only beat what's in front of you, and Liverpool clearly did that today. But West Ham couldn't have made it much easier. On this form, the Hammers are assuredly going down. It was nice to see an ambitious, attacking side – something we certainly haven't seen enough this season – but West Ham's tactics played right into Liverpool's hands and heads dropped immediately after conceding the opener.
As much as I'd love for this to mark a turning point, I'm afraid it doesn't. Yes, Liverpool were excellent from top to bottom: Meireles impressed in his natural position, Torres is hitting full fitness, Johnson was a constant threat, both Poulsen and Konchesky actually looked like professional footballers (Konchesky even had an assist!), and Liverpool scored goals that weren't created or tallied by Gerrard or Torres. If nothing else, it's a huge boost in confidence for an inconsistent side, especially one that's missing its captain for the next month.
But Liverpool, even this Liverpool, are expected to win matches like these. Traveling to Spurs next weekend – a side that came back from two down at the Emirates today – will be a true test.