WEST HAM 2-1 LIVERPOOL
Sorry, Reds fans… Our FA Cup campaign has come to an end for this season. A very late goal saw Liverpool’s hopes of progressing in this competition dashed in a questionable manner and West Ham were the victors of this fixture unfortunately.
The only reason Liverpool would have to travel down to London for a replay was that we’d already faced West Ham once at Anfield. The first leg was a very uninteresting goalless draw and forced Liverpool to make the trip for an away leg in the FA Cup. One more chance to make sure Liverpool could keep on going for this trophy, but another chance wasted.
Klopp would choose youth over experience as this squad had Ilori, Smith, Chirivella, Teixeira and Stewart in the starting lineup. Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge would each get a chance to play after spending very long periods of time out injured and it was good to see them both in action for Liverpool. Back from a short term injury was also Coutinho, who would go straight into the starting lineup.
A late goal in either half would be the way West Ham managed to score two goals against Liverpool in this fixture. It was quite frustrating to see us try so hard for 45 minutes and then eventually concede not long before the referee’s time to blow the whistle for ending the half in both halves, making a difference to the result and the chosen team to progress in the FA Cup.
This game was proof that “every second counts”, even the dying minutes of any half in any fixture can be vital to your progression in the cup games you’ll play in any season. Defence are never to ease up until the final whistle and attackers are to look for openings and opportunities to score until it’s time to stop playing. If you don’t do that for cup games, you are likely to be knocked out of the competition.
Michail Antonio would score West Ham’s first goal, a strike from close range at the far post where nobody of Liverpool’s defence was standing. He’d been unmarked and the cross that found him just let the first goal happen as we’d half been expecting the referee to blow for half time.
Liverpool were by no means overwhelmed by West Ham. We’d have multiple chances on goal in both halves (and even extra time) but the chances converted into real goals amounted to us scoring once, which just wasn’t enough. Here’s where I’ll have to restrain myself from turning a review into a “rant” because watching some of our players became quite frustrating. In particular, Christian Benteke.
Benteke was involved with a lot of our attacks and back when we had Balotelli playing in the side, I’d have praised Mario for being a part of this many of our attacks. However, seeing Benteke be assisted with wonderful cross after another wonderful through ball and only hit the post or directly at the goalkeeper or shooting wide after being granted such wonderful scoring opportunities was where it became frustrating. I found it harder and harder as the game grew on to simply praise him for having taken a shot or been in a dangerous position. Involvement in the game wasn’t enough, I wanted him to convert the chances he had into goals and he just wasn’t doing it. In a Cup competition where we could be knocked out if we don’t score more than the opposition it is very important that we convert as many chances as possible into goals.
Former Liverpool striker Ian Rush once said “who’d be a goalkeeper? A striker can miss five times and score once and he’s a hero. A goalkeeper can save five shots and concede once and he’s a villain.” I believe he was trying to defend the Liverpool goalkeeper (who may have been criticised by fans) with his words but it’s true that strikers can be heroes, if they just take chances they’re given and turn those chances into goals that help their teams win games and even trophies, like the FA Cup. Benteke could have been a hero for us. So could Sturridge. This certainly wasn’t a FA Cup Final but every game on the way to the Final is just as important as the final because if you lose even one of the fixtures (no matter what round you’re playing in), you’re knocked out of the competition. We needed a hero that would stop this from happening.
Despite Liverpool being defeated eventually, I’d still say we had one hero who tried his best to keep us going on our way to the next round. West Ham had scored late in the 1st half, you know. Well, Liverpool scored early in the second half and the equalizer that had kept us going until extra time and almost to the penalty shoot out we were about to be a part of was Coutinho’s goal. It was a wonderful free kick. He timed it perfectly and struck it low across the ground towards the far left side of the goal, so that as the defenders in the “wall” jumped into the air to defend what they thought was going to be a shot over their heads, the ball was cleverly placed under them and past the goalkeeper.
It was a pleasure to see Coutinho back in the squad, I must say. He was one of the most hardworking players on the pitch. He looked like he’d missed being out of recent fixtures as much as we’d missed seeing him play. We may not have been able to win this game, but the Brazilian would be the only player to score as we tried to make progress in the FA Cup. I’m naming Coutinho Man Of The Match for his efforts upon only just returning from injury.
West Ham’s second goal was as I mentioned earlier, questionable. Firstly, the lead up to the free kick it was scored from was just one of many moments in the fixture where the referee had given our opponents a decision in their favour. The ref had been doing this for almost the entire game and when he decided to award West Ham their free kick which probably shouldn’t have been awarded extremely late into the second half of extra time, they took the opportunity to use this advantage and stopped the penalty shoot out that both teams were heading for from even happening. I had been counting on Liverpool winning on penalties, as we have done in other fixtures this season and in previous recent seasons. We’re good at them and it’d be fair to say we’re better at West Ham at penalties but we just weren’t given the chance to prove it. Angelo Ogbonna would be the player that stopped that from happening as his free kick hit they shouldn’t even have been given hit the back of the net. West Ham 2-1 Liverpool.
Liverpool’s season will continue after this defeat and we’ll go up against Aston Villa soon.
Our fixture list now won’t be as full and we’ll have a little resting period where other teams who are still part of the FA Cup, won’t. All we can do is walk on through the storm, though our dreams be tossed and blown. You’ll never walk alone, Anfield Family.
[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 (more than 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