Liverpool 2 West Ham United 0
Saturday, 31st January 2015
by Staff Writer
West Ham's long wait for a win at Anfield is on the back-burner for another year after two second half goals did for a woefully-understrength Hammers side.With Carl Jenkinson, James Tomkins, Cheik Kouyate and Diafra Sakho all absent from the match day squad, the Hammers were up against it from the start on a ground they haven't won at since 1963.
And the loss during the games of James Collins, Andy Carroll and Winston Reid - whose early departure through injury left West Ham playing with only ten men for the last nine minutes - only served to hinder Sam Allardyce's side further.
Unsurprisingly perhaps West Ham were a shadow of the side who were unbeaten in 2015 prior to today's game, with three wins and three draws under their belt in January. However they could have few complaints about today's result, which saw United's hosts leapfrog the Irons in the Premier League table.
Having survived an at times stormy first half, Liverpool opened the scoring just six minutes after the restart with a goal of the highest quality - from the Reds' only two real players of note.
England international Rahim Sterling exchanged passes with Coutinho on the edge of the box as Liverpool broke with pace and urgency, leaving the 20-year-old to steer the ball beyond Adrian into his left-hand corner.
Whilst they remained the stronger side, Liverpool rarely threatened to add a second before substitute Daniel Sturridge marked his comeback from injury with a goal ten minutes from time to seal the win for today's hosts.
Once again Liverpool broke with pace and Sturridge, breaking away on the right side, took the ball into the area before firing into the near post from an acute angle. Although he's been exceptional of late, questions will be asked of Adrian's positioning as he committed the cardinal sin of being beaten at his near post.
Bar having to pick the ball out of his net on two occasions, the Spanish 'keeper had surprisingly little to do given Liverpool's overall control of the game. That said, his point-blank save midway through the first half from Coutinho was another notable addition to his list of fine stops this season.
As for West Ham, there was depressingly little for the travelling band of Hammers fans to get excited about. Andy Carroll, returning to his former club failed to seriously test Simon Mignolet with either of his two first half headers whilst Winston Reid couldn't even hit the target when he enjoyed the rare luxury of a free header from a corner.
Potentially more problematic in the short-term than today's defeat is the loss of all three first team central defenders to injury, adding James Collins' and Winston Reid's today to that of James Tomkins.
Reece Oxford, who at 16 would have been one of the youngest players ever to represent the Hammers had he been called upon today is the club's only other fit centre half with Reece Burke, his senior at 17, also sidelined through injury.
And that may well leave Sam Allardyce and his employers desperately scrambling to bring in an alternative option before Monday night's deadline. KUMB understands that Roger Johnson is still available...
West Ham United: Adrian, O'Brien, Reid, Collins, Cresswell, Song, Nolan (c), Amalfitano, Downing, Carroll, Valencia.
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Oxford, Poyet, Noble, Jarvis, Cole.
Livepool: Mignolet, Markovic, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Leiva, Henderson (c), Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling.
Subs: Ward, Johnson, Lambert, Sturridge, Allen, Borini, Ibe.
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Player RatingsAdrian San Miguel del Castillo
Rarely called upon, this was one of the easier days Adrian will enjoy - although his command of his area remains a slight concern.
With a three-pronged attack for much of the game Jenks was rarely afforded license to roam with defensive duties at the forefront. There, he was solid enough.
As per his fellow full-back, although he troubled City's defence slightly more.
The finesse of Reid eventually shone through despite this being a game perhaps more suited to the no-nonsense appraoch of James Collins. Only once was he beaten by the giant 6'6" Smith.
Fairly ineffective, certainly below his usual excellent standard in a game you'd expect him to shine in.
His recent slump in form hit a new low today with his worst performance since arriving at West Ham. Too many passes wen astray and he looked less than 100 per cent fit.
No more effective than his two fellow central midfielders. Credit though for his involvement in the goal - and the way he took a rocket of a pass on the chest.
Once again shunted out wide and far less involved as a result. Once chance left City's 'keeper grasping at thin air but there were few signs of his excellent recent form.
Once again he was anonymous for large spells yet came up with a goal-line clearance and an assist for the goal.
Once again Enner struggled with a wide role, when he is clearly more comfortable playing as a central striker. Still kept the City defence on their toes, though.
(replaced Valencia) Well they kept that one quiet! And what a way to announce your return from injury - one rasping volley that grazed the crossbar and a brilliant header to win the game.
(replaced Song) Disappointing, in a game you'd expect him to shine in. Usually a good impact sub. Morgan failed to trouble City's defence and spent mouch of the game being admonished by Jenkinson for not tracking back.
(replaced Nolan) Thrown in as a third centre-half, I can't recall him touching the ball.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Alex Song, Kevin Nolan, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Diafra Sakho 81 .
Booked: Kevin Nolan 78 Mark Noble 80 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Alex Song.