West Ham United 0
Gerrard 2, 38, Babel 84.
So that’s it. There is nothing more we can do. By the time we walk out at The Hawthorns to face West Brom next Sunday the Championship may have escaped us for another season.
The Mancs will have played Wigan and Arsenal before our game and now need just four points from these two games having mowed over a lacklustre Manchester City yesterday afternoon. Even if they fail what are the chances of them not picking up something against Hull on the last day of the season?
So does this mean I’m giving up? Conceding the championship? Our chances are slim however, as it is The Mancs and although the fat lady is in the building and rehearsing in her changing room, slim hope’s of them gloriously snatching defeat and embarrassment from the jaws of victory still prevail. However, I’m very conscious that there’s a distinct possibility of someone coming to me and saying “come on son, that’s enough, let it go”.
Rafa made three changes on Saturday all of them forced. Riera and Alonso were injured whilst Agger was on “paternity leave” Lucas, Skrtel and Torres returned to fill the gaps.
Like Newcastle a week ago this was a routine affair. West Ham for all their promise, improved form and talk of the difficulties we might face, were easily despatched by an early one two. There was no messing around this time with the first goal coming from Gerrard, running onto Torres excellent though ball and rounding Green to roll it home, before some people had even taken their seats.
The earliness of the goal meant that West Ham had plenty of time to take stock and get back into game. However, they simply proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot. Step forward one Luis Boa Morte.
The West Ham player can feel justifiably hard done by for not getting a free kick from Mascherano’s late challenge. However, his frustration at the referees decision, or lack of it, manifested itself in the most stupid and ultimately disastrous of ways. The blatant pull on Torres shirt inside the box, causing our man to stumble in his attempts to get on the end of Benayoun’s excellent chip, suggested that the West Ham man almost felt he was owed a moment of recklessness because of injustice of the earlier incident. Not surprisingly the referee disagreed and Gerrard poked home the penalty at the second attempt after Green had done well to save.
Further ignominy was heaped on the home side with Di Michele seizing on Jamie Carragher’s lapse. However, in trying to navigate Reina he tripped but comically, in an attempt to cover his embarrassment, tried to suggest he had been felled, no BAFA’s just a yellow card!
Torres, who hit the cross bar, Beneyoun and Kuyt kept the pot boiling but it was left to Babel to make it sound and safe after the unlucky Green, for the second time, had saved well only to see the rebound go against him giving the Dutchman an easy job from six yards out.
So pressure maintained. Will we have another opportunity to keep it up? We shall see however, whatever “treats” are in stall for us over the next week let me ask you this. If after last season and the indeed ones before, you were told that in this campaign we would be top of the league in May then surely you would have taken it?
West Ham: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Boa Morte (Payne 80), Noble, Kovac, Stanislas (Collison 59), Di Michele (Sears 70), Tristan.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Lopez, Nsereko, Spector.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio (Insua 54), Benayoun (Dossena 82), Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt, Torres (Babel 72).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Degen.