WEST HAM 2-0 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool have lost their first game of 2016.
The run of wins we were having looked like it could continue for a while longer when gazing at the fixture list for Liverpool and attempting to predict the results that may happen. This game however, was rather unpredictable and did not turn out as expected.
I was rather confident about our strategy in recent games. We’d been defending tightly, not allowing our opposition to score and then scoring ourselves (even if it was only once), giving ourselves the advantage and all three points from the games as we won 1-0. To say “we’ll be able to do that again” was not completely crazy or impossible to achieve. It just didn’t go that way, right from the very start of this fixture.
The team Klopp would choose gave our manager an almost identical side to the one that had been succesful against Leicester and Sunderland. We wouldn’t see Henderson due to injury, but mostly we were the same as previous victorious squads.
The first half would dictate how the entire game would be played. West Ham managed to take a very early lead and Liverpool would be chasing a goal they needed to score but could and would not get for the entire 90 minutes.
The first goal scored was a little unfair, though there was probably more we could have done to stop it being scored.
Around the 9th minute of the game, Alberto Moreno had been running down the left wing. He was tackled HARD, brought down to the ground with a tough challenge that looked like it was a foul and Liverpool probably should have been given a free kick. However, the play was not stopped, West Ham took the ball from Moreno and ran down the far side of the pitch. The ball was crossed over by Enner Valencia (from where our left back would be if he wasn’t still picking himself up from being fouled) and then a header by Michail Antonio would meet the cross and smash the ball past Simon Mignolet and into the net from around 6 yards. There was no stopping this attempt on goal from such close range and the score would become West Ham 1-0 Liverpool at just under the 10 minute mark. Liverpool still had over 80 minutes left to play and could very well have scored, though. We had time on our side.
Liverpool restarted the game and still looked quite confident. To get any points from the game (even a single one from a 1-1 draw), we’d now have to score a goal of our own. We would have several chances to do this before the full time whistle was blown.
West Ham looked confident too. Their defence was tight and every time Liverpool made an attack, a West Ham defender was there to challenge for the ball, take it away from us and to go down to our end of the pitch on a counter-attack. Over and over. Liverpool Attack, West Ham counter attack. This was how most of the game was played.
The advantage of this style of play suited West Ham best, we needed some more space and for the defence to loosen up a little if we were going to score. Nothing would get past their defenders, which was bad for Liverpool. Every time we tried to push into their penalty area for space to shoot, 2 or 3 defenders would crowd our attacker and eventually, the ball was won… then they’d counter attack. It became quite repetitive and very frustrating to watch, eventually. Liverpool fans could only watch as they saw attackers disabled by multiple defenders and then a rush to get back as we too were attacked, which would force many players out of position and just into a state of panic until the ball went out of play and we perhaps got a goal kick or throw in to start the whole process all over again.
Shots from Liverpool were frequently blocked, saved or just hit so off target (wide or above the goal) that we didn’t. Coutinho would try. Lucas would try. Benteke would try. Moreno would try. Everyone gets points for trying their luck. It’s just so much effort put in and so little gained from it that makes it frustrating. The score at half time would remain West Ham 1-0 Liverpool.
Liverpool would start the second half with the same confidence we’d had in the first half, but it still wasn’t doing us much good. Things got only worse from around 10 minutes into the second half, just as they had from 10 minutes into the first half.
West Ham would go on the offensive, then Mark Noble would cross over a ball. The ball would find former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, who jumped into the air above Nathaniel Clyne and headed home the second and final goal of the game. West Ham 2-0 Liverpool.
In a fixture where Liverpool had no goalscorers, I find picking a “Man Of The Match” quite difficult. However, I’d say the player who tried the best in the entire game was Alberto Moreno. Though none of his crosses were ever met with a foot or head that converted them to goals, Moreno did not give up ever as he made the continued attacks in hope of changing the game, until the final whistle was blown (or until he was substituted for Brad Smith in the 61st minute). The hope he had inspired other players to do the same also. We never ever gave up.
I don’t like that Liverpool lost this game, but it could easily have been a draw. There was chances which remained a chance and not a goal but had we actually scored them, the result would have been very different. Emre Can hit the crossbar and his shot went over the goal, but there was a chance it could have hit the underside of the bar and gone in. Benteke had multiple balls crossed into him from our players out on the wing, Alberto Moreno and Coutinho and Jordan Ibe mostly. The Belgian failed to convert his opportunities as he had done in previous fixtures. Even Joe Allen had a headed shot which went just right of the goalpost and if it had been a little to the left, Allen would have gotten to celebrate a goal for the first time since April (2015). These opportunities also could have been game changers, but were not. Liverpool were destined to lose this game as West Ham’s defence would stay strong enough in the dying moments of the second half to keep their lead and have their happy new year in the form of victory against Liverpool.
Liverpool’s season will continue as we now go onto a league cup Semi Final two leg fixture against Stoke City. If we can win these games we will face either Everton or Manchester City in the League Cup Final.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.