On a laborious Saturday afternoon, Liverpool toughed out a 1-0 victory over West Ham United. A Sadio Mane goal, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold, was enough to see the Reds though as they look to keep pace with Manchester City in the Premier League title race. But for West Ham, this is a loss that could prove to be costlier than three points in the race for Europe.
Bowen injury a major West Ham concern
In the 53rd minute, Jarrod Bowen had to be withdrawn and replaced by Saied Benrhama. The extent of the injury is unknown but when an attacker leaves and can't put weight on a leg, as Bowen couldn't, you begin to fear for the worst. Ironically, this was the day when Bowen became the West Ham leader for consecutive Premier League appearances with 79. Enjoying a stellar season, Bowen has eight goals and eight assists in the premier league to go along with one goal and one assist in the Europa League (you can watch West Ham and the rest of the Europa League on Paramount+).
Bowen is central to everything that the Hammers have done and losing him will not only be a Premier League blow where they're two points behind Manchester United in the race for fourth place but facing Sevilla on Thursday, March 17th will be much tougher if Bowen misses time. Michail Antonio is already struggling to score, having gone scoreless in his last eight Premier League games, and the list is short of players who can put the ball in the back of the net for David Moyes is growing shorter by the day.
The finishing issues were on full display against Liverpool when West Ham saw not one but two chances cleared off the line. The first was a shot by Pablo Fornals where he was alone in acres of space. But not only was Alexander-Arnold able to get back and clear it, but Alisson was also ready for the follow-up save.
TAA with the goal line clearance!— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 5, 2022
West Ham came close to equalizing the match.
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But one clearance wasn't enough for the Hammers as Manuel Lanzini had just the keeper to beat following a cross from Tomas Soucek and blazed it over the bar. He brought it down in space but just wasn't able to get the goal that West Ham needed to bring things level.
Trent Alexander-Arnold with the perfect assist for Sadio Mane!— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 5, 2022
Liverpool lead 1-0.
📺: @nbc, @NBCUniverso, & @peacockTV #MyPLMorning | #LIVWHU pic.twitter.com/O4eMucwj1T
Alexander-Arnold shines yet again
A large reason for the performance was Alexander-Arnold's excellence. While I'm running out of words to describe the defender, he created a match-high five chances, had ten recoveries, an assist, and put a shot on target. With 11 assists on the season, he's one ahead of teammate Mo Salah for the league lead and two ahead of Andrew Robertson, but that undersells his passing ability. As a fullback, his 71 chances created trail only Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes' 75 for most in the league, and are a whopping 20 ahead of Salah who has the third most. The most ridiculous passing stat of all though, is Alexander-Arnold's expected assist total of 10.24, which is so far ahead of the rest of the league that he's close to lapping them. Fernandes has the second largest number, and it's basically half of Alexander-Aarnold's at 5.67. Salah is the only other Premier League player with over five. And on the defensive side of the ball his 184 ball recoveries are seventh in the Premier League, and second among fullbacks with only Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell ahead of him.
When discussing defenders, there's Alexander-Arnold and then everyone else as the 23-year-old is only getting better. As Liverpool charges toward trying to defend their Premier League title, he will continue to be key to everything that they do.