Hammers improvement not enough to halt Liverpool’s title charge

West Ham United 0-2 Liverpool

WEST HAM UNITED offered their supporters a workmanlike performance but ultimately, it wasn’t enough to derail title favourites, Liverpool, who extended their unbeaten Premier League run to forty-one matches.

Following arguably their worst performance in recent history, resulting in an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at the hands of A West Bromwich Albion second string, the last thing Hammers supporters needed was a visit from a seemingly invincible Liverpool side.

Jurgen Klopp’s men arrived in east London unbeaten in the league and on the cusp of their first title in three decades. Nevertheless, David Moyes remained level-headed and laid down a challenge to his beleaguered charges.

“It would be easy to say how difficult the challenge is, but I think it’s a challenge we have to attempt to relish,” the Scotsman explained.
“Nobody at this moment in time has beaten Liverpool so that is something that we have to aim to do. We’ll attempt to do that, but obviously we know their quality.”

Ahead of the game, West Ham’s newest recruit, the Czech midfielder, Tomáš Souček, was cordially introduced to an otherwise slightly fearful audience. Lukasz Fabianski – back from another spell in the treatment room – clung desperately to Divock Origi’s early low centre, ensuring the mood didn’t dip further once the cation had begun.

But despite having to absorb a fair amount of early pressure, West Ham initially appeared a little more battle hardy than they had against the depleted Baggies. Issa Diop hooked off the line after Andrew Robertson had been played in by Mohamed Salah. Meanwhile, the home side asked questions of their own with debutant, Jeremy Ngakia, keen to link up and get involved from the right flank.

However, West Ham’s early toil was to be undone. Diop was clumsy on Origi – Salah sending Fabianski the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick following the obligatory, but unnecessary, VAR check.

Manuel Lanzini fluffed his lines, scuffing directly at Alisson immediately after the interval. Liverpool swiftly responded – Fabianski swooping low to his left to keep out Roberto Fermino. But West Ham were again to be undone. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supplied the finish to Salah’s exquisite pass – it had all been too easy.

Alisson was finally called upon – turning aside from Robert Snodgrass after Lanzini had seized on some hesitant defending to fashion an opening. But the spirit was unable to match class – Fabianski again to the rescue after Origi’s angled attempt looked destined for the bottom corner of the net.

West Ham came might close to reducing the arrears – Trent Alexander-Arnold diverting against his own upright after Alisson had beaten out an effort from Declan Rice.

Meanwhile, Liverpool continued to hold all the aces – Salah sending a crisp, left-footed strike against the woodwork as the Merseysiders looked to extend their advantage.

Alisson clawed out a goalbound header from Rice as West Ham – to their credit – refused to throw in the towel. They still remain outside the dropzone by virtue of goal difference as a result.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, January 1 when Brighton & Hove Albion are the visitors to the London Stadium (3pm).

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini (Pablo Fornals 69’), Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble (Capt), Angelo Ogbonna, Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Arthur Masuaku, Declan Rice, Jeremy Ngakia Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Carlos Sanchez, Goncalo Cardoso, Albian Ajeti

Booked: Issa Diop (foul), Mark Noble (foul),
Goals: None

Liverpool: Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson (Capt), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Curtis Jones 86’), Andrew Robertson, Divock Origi (Fabinho 69’), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Naby Keita 78’) Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Dejan Lovren, Takumi Minamino, Joel Matip

Booked: None
Goals: Mohamed Salah (penalty) 38’, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 52’

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry and Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth Official: Graham Scott

Attendance: 59,959

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]