Liverpool 3-2 West Ham United
WEST HAM UNITED provided their travelling supporters with a hugely-improved performance, but ultimately left pointless as Premier League champions-elect, Liverpool came from behind to win a thoroughly entertaining contest at Anfield
The Hammers and Liverpool couldn’t be experiencing more contrasting fortunes at the moment. The Reds – unbeaten all season and on the cusp of their first league title in thirty-years, while the east Londoners floundered alarmingly, threatened by the spectre of relegation after another frustrating campaign of underachievement.
David Moyes insisted his side would try to become the first this season to grapple the points from Jurgen Klopp’s men. Despite his connections with the Merseysiders chief-rivals, Everton, the Scotsman was adamant he was only interested in getting a result for his current employers.
“That’s football for you, that’s why we love the game and take part in the game, you could be the team to win. We will try to do that and let’s hope we can.
“It would mean a lot for West Ham. Everything I am doing is West Ham. It’s never an easy place to go to, Anfield, but we will go there and do everything we can to get a result.”
Moyes’s preparation was hindered by a shoulder injury to Ryan Fredericks. Klopp too had a conundrum to solve – skipper, Jordan Henderson out with a troublesome hamstring.
Unsurprisingly, the home side, calm and comfortable, made all the early running. Andrew Robertson fired over following a free-flowing move, while Sadio Mane almost caught Lukasz Fabianski napping after the Polish stopper dwelled too long on a backpass from Issa Diop.
Nevertheless, it was clear that a Liverpool goal was already imminent. Georginio Wijnaldum’s header had too much for Fabianski – this after Trent Alexander-Arnold had expertly picked him out from the right.
But incredibly the Reds lead lasted just four minutes. Issa Diop rose unchallenged to meet a Robert Snodgrass flag-kick. Alisson was beaten, the Kop stunned.
Mane and Alexander-Arnold went close as Liverpool regrouped. But the home side were far from vintage, which some nervy grumblings from the stands confirmed. Meanwhile, Alexander-Arnold again went close – his dead-ball effort deflected behind. Skipper Virgil van Dijk nodding the resulting corner against the top of the bar.
It had been a spirited opening forty-five minutes from the East Londoners, but the big question remained as to whether they could replicate that after the half-time cuppa?
Roberto Firmino swept over from an angle and Mohamed Salah’s strike was blocked as Liverpool looked to regain some fluency. But the Merseysiders were in for another shock – Declan Rice centred, substitute Pablo Fornals swept past Alisson from eight yards.
But when the luck is with you, it’s with you. Salah’s attempt should have been gobbled up by Fabianski – it slipped through his legs – 2-2 – agonising for West Ham and their usually reliable keeper.
Unfortunately, having produced such a hard-working display, the finale – as it is for so many sides visiting Anfield – was predictable. Mane picked up the pieces to find an empty net, this after Salah and Alexander-Arnold had fashioned an opening – the Kop exploded – the treasure a step closer.
VAR correctly called against a similar move handing Liverpool a fourth and Mane his second. Meanwhile, Jarrod Bowen was thwarted by Alisson, Aaron Cresswell’s attempt flicked over and Mark Noble’s shot scrambled away as the visitors – to their credit – refused to throw in the towel.
The result leaves West Ham still in the bottom three. They will require every ounce of that spirit with a little more quality unless they are to drop into the Championship at the end of the campaign.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, February 29 when Southampton are the visitors to the London Stadium (3pm).
Liverpool: Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk (Capt), Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 56’), Robert Firmino, Sadio Mane (Joel Matip 90+1’), Mohamed Salah, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Dejan Lovren, Takumi Minamino, Divok Origi
Goals: Georginio Wijnaldum 8’, Mohamed Salah 68’, Sadio Mane 81’
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell Felipe Anderson (Sebastien Haller 64’), Robert Snodgrass (Jarrod Bowen 84’), Mark Noble (Capt), Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Tomas Soucek (Pablo Fornals 47’), Michail Antonio, Declan Rice, Jeremy Ngakia Subs not used: Darren Randolph, Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Manuel Lanzini
Booked: Issa Diop (foul), Mark Noble (foul)
Goals: Issa Diop 12’, Pablo Fornals 55’
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry and Eddie Smart
Fourth official: Lee Mason
Reaction to follow…