West Ham 3
Parker (22), Ba (45), Cole (90)
Yesterday was just one of those days. We could have played West Ham from 1-30pm, the kick off time to 1.30am on Monday morning and we still wouldn’t have got anywhere!
A bad day at the office or a sign that, for all our recent recovery, we are still vulnerable. A sign that we still have a lot of work to do and therefore susceptible to the odd mugging from time to time?
Of course there are excuses and positives if you care to look hard enough. Steven Gerrard returned today but didn’t look match fit. We’ve Andy Carroll to come and although Luis Suarez had a quiet game when he did click there was enough there to suggest that, when he is fully adjusted to Premiership football, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Kenny mentioned that we had played on Thursday when West Ham had played on Monday and the side was disrupted by injuries to Kelly and Meireles during the game.
However, one should not take anything away from West Ham. This was indeed a real East End tear up, they out fought us, out thought us, out muscled us and, apart from a faint glimmer of hope towards the end, out played us. This was a side unrecognizable from the timid, fragile outfit that we saw at Anfield in November. West Ham thoroughly deserved their win.
Kenny started with a decent looking side. Gerrard returned and Luis Suarez was partnered up front with Dirk. At the back it was five again, Kelly and Johnson made the team despite pre match injury doubts. Danny Wilson kept his place to make his first Premiership appearance because of injury to Agger and, encouragingly for those who want to see youth given a chance, kept Kyrgiakos on the bench.
The start was fairly even Meireles firing a tame shot at Green after a pass from Johnson who of course was playing against his old club. Johnson was at again soon after rising to high corner to nod down onto Piquionne’s hand. Penalty? Sadly nothing doing. Before that Meireles headed wide and for West Ham Thomas Hitzlsperger tested Reina from distance with a dipping volley but our man was up to the task. However, shortly after we were undone.
Scott Parker broke from midfield exchanged passes with Hitzlsperger and sort of chipped, perhaps “dinked” is the word, the ball past a failing Reina. It was a soft goal that we really should have prevented. Although he did take it early we were slow to react to Parker and I guess the only consolation was that we had plenty of time to put things right?
Our response was immediate but not successful. Suarez found Kuyt who cut inside to fire a vicious shot that went just wide. We could have done with the goal if only to silence the crowd, deaden the match atmosphere and take the wind out of West Ham? Soon after we escaped again when Piquionne’s shot, from an acute angle, evaded Reina. Thankfully Ba failed to get a boot on it. Next came a couple of convincing penalty claims for both sides Tomkins “kneeing” Suarez as he backed into him and then straight after a challenge on Piquionne from Carragher however, before the damage was done the referee deemed that a West Ham player had handled.
Then misfortune struck. Kelly had a good low shot forcing Green to dive to his right. Sadly however, a further excursion down the right saw him pull what looked to be a pulled hamstring leaving Kenny to hastily reorganize to 4:4:2 with two minutes to the break. While we were getting a feel of it, or just hoping to ride things out before half time, Ba headed in O’Neil’s cross. The second half also started badly with Meireles limping off.
Perhaps we could be optimistic and hope that West Ham would blow themselves out but they were having none of it. They continued to dictate at a high tempo in every area of the pitch. Ba nearly got his second with a low shot that arrowed past our left hand post, he then headed another effort from a corner just wide. Piquionne had another shot that Reina spilled, thankfully no one was following up and he recovered.
In between we tried to gain some sort of foothold. Suarez finally sparked into life turning Tomkins well and firing towards the top corner only for Green to paw it away for a corner. Green then tipped over Gerrard’s a rasping left foot drive. Finally we made some sort of breakthrough after Suarez’s cross, following a superb “jackknife” turn which totally bamboozled Parker, found Johnson who tapped in from close range.
We finished the game as the stronger side. Perhaps we would see the repeat of the determination and desire to keep going right to he end that we saw against Prague? Sadly however, time and talent was against us and it was no surprise that when Cole, after leaving Skrtel in an embarrassed, crumpled heap, found space around Carragher to fire home and make it three.
West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, O’Neil, Parker, Noble, Hitzlsperger, Ba (Cole 88), Piquionne (Spector 82). Subs: Boffin, Reid, Cole, Boa Morte, Spector, da Costa, Hines.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly (Cole 43), Carragher, Skrtel, Wilson, Lucas, Meireles (Ngog 49), Johnson, Gerrard, Kuyt, Suarez. Subs: Gulacsi, Cole, Kyrgiakos, Maxi, Ngog, Spearing, Poulsen.