Johnson 18, Kuyt (pen) 27, Maxi 38
West Ham United 0
This was the game which saw Martin Broughton hand over the Chief Executive reigns to NESV. A new beginning off the pitch officially signalled however, despite today’s result, there is long way to go on it. Broughton and his team to get to the position with NESV they found themselves in today had to overcome considerably tougher, more obstinate “opposition” than the powder puff West Ham side we saw today. We dominated, got a morale boosting victory making it five wins out of seven however, in all honesty West Ham were poor, the worst side we’ve faced so far this season.
HRH had to make one enforced change. Poulsen was bought in for the injured Gerrard to partner Meireles. Glen Johnson returned meaning that Carragher, making his 650th appearance, shuffled across back to the middle and the unlucky Kyrgiakos stood down. Lucas was suspended meaning that Kuyt dropped back to midfield allowing Ngog to start up front with Torres. Significantly West Ham were without Scott Parker.
Christian Poulsen has received a guarded reception since to joined us and his partnership with Meireles in the middle probably more shaking their heads and wondering where the creativity would come from however, this is not about two men and we began in confident fashion with Johnson, from a cross, forcing to Jacobsen to nod it away for a corner.
This game was right up Johnson’s street. He had no real defensive duties to perform as West Ham didn’t really offer much in that part of the pitch. Furthermore they obligingly backed off as if our forwards had some contagious tropical disease giving us plenty of space to play in. Johnson knew this and made the most of it bombing down the right wing often and effectively. If HRH was merely pondering playing him in midfield then he might be giving it more serious thought tonight?
The chances began early with Ngog, Maxi (twice) and then Torres, all in the first ten minutes, signalling to Green that he was to have a busy teatime. The breakthrough was made just after the quarter hour Meireles’ corner landed amid a group of players, Johnson emerged from the pack to fire it home. Vindication for the player who has been the subject of criticism recently not least in this blog? Well not really as there have never been doubts about his ability to go forward it is when he is needed against more offensively minded opposition that the issue arises.
Just before the half hour Kuyt turned our dominance into something tangible by calmly rolling a spot kick right down the centre of the goal after Gabbidon had handled. The third soon came. Torres, who had plenty of efforts on goal but just didn’t have any luck today, saw his shot blocked by Green. Konchesky picked up the loose ball which West Ham had just watched and crossed to Maxi all alone in the box without a white shirt in sight. His header was a formality.
The second half saw the game peter out West Ham made more of a fist of it without getting anywhere near emulating Spurs’ fete at The Emirates earlier in the day. We moved down a gear safe in the knowledge that the points were ours and although we occasionally got the big stick out (through Maxi, Torres, Poulsen) to show who was in charge the game tapered off. In the end it had air of an exhibition match. The only thing of note was the re-emergence from injury of Fabio Aurelio who looked lively and nearly capped things off with a spectacular, long range fizzer that Green had to tip over.
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Konchesky, Carragher, Skrtel, Raul Meireles (Shelvey 83), Maxi, C Poulsen, Torres (Babel 84), Kuyt, Ngog (Aurelio 73), Substitutes: Jones, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Shelvey, Babel, Eccleston
West Ham: Green, Gabbidon, Upson, Ilunga (Tomkins 76), Jacobsen, Boa Morte, Kovac, Noble, Cole (McCarthy 69), Piquionne, Obinna (Barrera 46), Substitutes: Stech, Reid, Tomkins, Spector, Barrera, McCarthy, Nouble