West Ham United 2
Diamanti (pen) 29, Cole 45
Torres 20, 75, Kuyt 42
Another win but yet another performance earning an indifferent reception. Yes three more points three more goals, Torres to the fore, but we conceded two so that’s something to seize on. Here’s a selection of quotes…..
“Attempts at resistance by Liverpool were chaotic, strengthening doubts that they have become too fragile to challenge for the title…..” The Sunday Telegraph
“Liverpool are back in the top three; even with their stellar striker they’ll go no higher with a defence like this..” The Sunday Times
“Liverpool have now scored 16 goals in six League games – five of them from Torres – though what was surprising was the laxity in their defence. Jamie Carragher, who conceded a penalty, and Martin Skrtel looked shaky for such an experienced partnership and offered West Ham some hope until the finish..” The Independent on Sunday
However, when I look back over the season so far. I remember The Mancs’ defeat at Burnley. I also remember the shoddy defending in the Manchester derby yesterday. I remember the six goals Arsenal conceded in their two visits to Manchester I suspect there was a bit of bad defending amongst that lot? I think of Spurs collapsing at Chelsea yesterday but I also remember the two last gasp goals for Chelsea against Hull and then at Stoke to scramble three points. I’m writing this on Sunday so it’ perhaps its appropriate to paraphrase “let the team who is without sin cast the first stone”
Of course all this is not strictly relevant as it’s the reporters who write what they write. We should also be concerned with our own failings and not those of others but the fact is that although it is still early days and although at the back we are not firing on all cylinders we are still good enough to compensate for this. Isn’t that what the team ethos is all about? If one part isn’t quite in the groove the others kick in and make up for it? In this case it was the offensive part of our game that came to the rescue most specifically Fernando Torres.
Rafa reverted back to the Torres Gerrard double act up front and bought back Maschernao into his usual roll. Riera missed out. In the corresponding fixture last season we hit the ground running with a very early goal from Steven Gerrard this time it was nearly West Ham’s turn but, thankfully the post intervened to stop Hines converting his early strike after Carragher got caught in possession.
Torres looked like he meant business bringing down Gerrard’s cross and flashing a shot into the side netting. However his first goal was something special. It was footballing alchemy turning an seemingly worthless, mundane situation, receiving the ball from Mascherano with nothing on, into a golden opportunity, by wriggling and accelerating past Tompkins to hone in on Green in the West Ham goal, which needless he say he took, smashing the ball into the near post top corner when the keeper was probably expecting the cross.
Nonetheless, as we are constantly reminded, there is another side to our game at present. Cole set up Hines who when it looked as he was about to beat Carragher for pace received a barge from our man. Diamanti’s penalty was unusual to say the least leading to protests from the team that he had kicked it twice.
The pattern was repeated as we took the initiative once more, Beneyouns corner found Gerrard whose strong downward header was helped over the line by Kuyt, only for it to be undone by another set piece calamity. Noble sent over the corner and Cole, the meat in a Carragher Torres “challenge”, glanced a header home.
It is so, so easy to look at our defence in situations like this however to do so is to underestimate the contribution of West Ham who gave us a good game. Rafa also offered mitigation…
“If you analyse the team in defence, it wasn’t bad. We made individual mistakes that can happen sometimes. The reaction was very positive, so to score the third goal and be attacking all time was the perfect response.”
Jamie Carragher was involved in both West Ham goals but he has had to play alongside different partners as Skrtel and Agger have been injured. No doubt inwardly Carragher will be seething at the situation and perhaps Rafa doesn’t need do anything about it as the player’s personal pride will dictate that he himself does?
As the game progressed it became a case of when and not if the winner would come. Babel, after a good forward run from Johnson, collected and crossed to find Torres whose firm header from around eight yards did the rest. It was a simple goal but one that others in similar roles have missed all too often the past. Torres delivered when it mattered and when his team needed it. Players like that are gold dust.
West Ham United: Green, Ilunga, Tomkins, Upson (c), Faubert, Hines, Behrami, Parker, Noble, Cole, Diamanti. Subs – Dyer, Gabbidon, Kovac, Kurucz, Nouble, Payne, Spector
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Benayoun, Leiva, Mascherano (c), Kuyt, Gerrard, Torres. Subs – Aurelio, Babel, Cavalieri, Degen, Dossena, Kyrgiakos, Riera
League position 3rd