Liverpool 3 West Ham United 2
Monday, 24th February 2020
by Staff Writer
West Ham went up to Anfield on Monday night as lambs to the slaughter and came out without the points, but with a valuable and possibly crucial commodity: hope.The 3-2 defeat was painful, especially having led 2-1 for 14 second half minutes, but they found a performance to exceed any expectations. Unfortunately, it was allied by Lukasz Fabianski?EUR(TM)s worst game in a West Ham shirt.
With scenes of protest and defiance in the stands forcing Sky cameras to acknowledge them, and loud chants that could go unnoticed, any talk of protests damaging the team can and should be vehemently denied.
Ngakia and Anderson replaced Fredericks and Masuaku, Moyes sent his side out with a back four and a counter-attacking threat.
The game carried some of the pattern from Wednesday?EUR(TM)s defeat at Manchester City, but those changes and a little shift in attitude meant the Hammers stepped forward with more confidence and intent.
They went behind inside ten minutes, Trent Alexander-Arnold attacking a clearance with a wicked first-time cross that Wijnaldum rose to meet. His header was good, but Fabianski should have saved it. He got down, got his hand there, but it hit his wrist as he concentrated on parrying it away.
It felt like an early blow that would end the contest before it began. But 174 seconds later, Issa Diop flipped the script.
A series of three corners ended with Snodgrass curling one to the front post for Diop to flick as he got it slightly behind him. It beat Alisson at the front post, and West Ham were back in the game, Liverpool conceding their first home goal of 2020.
It was a goal that saw West Ham level at half time, born of an approach with more threat to combine with the hard work and impressive defending.
It was not without danger - Van Dijk heading off the bar after running free at a corner - but Antonio?EUR(TM)s running kept them on the turn, whilst Anderson joined him and was comfortable taking players on and moving with the ball in either half.
Into the second half, Firmino missed a chance under little pressure within 30 seconds, fed in for the effort by the indomitable Alexander-Arnold. Shortly after, Soucek was injured and replaced by Pablo Fornals.
The Spaniard had been omitted from the squad the game before; Anfield offered a drastic turn of fortunes.
Ten minutes gone in the second half, Rice crossed low into the Liverpool box after a Noble pass.
Unmarked eight yards from goal was Fornals, who stroked the ball in on the bounce, guiding it mostly off his leg, beating Alisson low to his left.
Then came the onslaught.
The champions-elect, the team that have won all but one Premier League game this season, roared into life.
Wave after wave of red flew forward, almost as if offended by what West Ham had done.
Alexander-Arnold tested Fabianski from range before Firmino headed over unmarked at a corner. It was all set up for either another Liverpool comeback or a famous rearguard resistance from West Ham.
The resistance was broken with over 20 minutes left on the clock, the blame again with Fabianski.
Robertson sprinted away from Snodgrass down the left and drove towards the area. His pass into it was rolled perfectly to Salah, the Egyptian in acres of space. He looked destined to score, only for his shot to be hit straight at Fabianski?EUR(TM)s hands. Any relief was short-lived as the ball somehow squeezed through them, through the goalkeeper?EUR(TM)s legs and rolled painfully into the back of net.
It hurt West Ham, it buoyed Liverpool. Other chances were missed, the pressure continued, but the third goal inevitably came.
The frustration will be that it was another they didn?EUR(TM)t really earn. The first two had been goalkeeping errors, the last was luck.
Joe Gomez peeled off a shot from 25 yards that flew away from goal, but hit Mark Noble. The deflection fell to Alexander-Arnold, the right back bursting into the box. Fabianski rushed out, but the England international knocked it over him and inside to Mane. With an open net to hit, he knocked it in easily and finally put his side into the lead.
As time faded away, the Senegal winger had another ruled out for offside, but the last moment of drama came from the foot of Bowen and the face of Alisson.
With two minutes remaining, Antonio slid through a wonderful pass to meet Bowen?EUR(TM)s curved run from other side. Bowen took it into the area where Alisson approached, the Brazilian saving the forward?EUR(TM)s dinked effort by the virtue of it smacking his face.
West Ham ended the game with pressure, creating half chances blocked away, but they couldn?EUR(TM)t snatch back the point they did truly deserve.
It was zero points, but it was that hope that should remain. Where the City defeat felt surrendered, the fight here felt anything and everything but. Considering the last two fixtures, it seemed unlikely this team could go into Saturday?EUR(TM)s crucial game with Southampton with any momentum.
Instead there are memories of 2007, where an equally broken West Ham side came away beaten 4-3 by Tottenham in dramatic fashion but dragging out the positives.
It may matter little if the weekend goes to bust, but green shoots of recovery came where little but destruction was expected. Maybe the fight from the stands has found the players too.
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Player RatingsRoberto Jimenez Gago
Not the greatest way to start his West Ham spell. Conceded four, probably could've done a little better with the last.
Enjoyed a productive opening 45 minutes, making several forays down the wing. A little less efective once City brought their big players on at the break.
No notable error. Good to see Pellegrini taking a closer look at his in pre-season.
One vital error that led to City's third goal, as he conceded possession cheaply and unnecessary. As you might expect from a youngster.
Still looking a little clumsy and conceded the penalty that put Manchester City ahead.
Not involved to any great degree but made several decent interceptions and kept it simple.
It seems his legs still haven't gone - and he's looking like a leader in every game.
A decent half from the Brazilian winger, who gave one or two City defenders nightmares in the opening stages.
A decent first half but like many others, faded after the break.
Fit again and it showed - and long may that remain the case.
A real busy bee in the 45 minutes he played as the lone striker - a role to be filled by the club's record signing upon returning from China.
(Replaced Rice) A pretty horrible appearance, in which he was responsible for the final City goal and lucky not to concede a (fairly clear) penalty.
(Replaced Wilshere) Largely anonymous against the better City players.
(Replaced Rice) "I'll be like a new signing!" he (sort of) said last week. And he was a bit. Unlucky not to score with an effort that rattled the post.
(Replaced Antonio) Not really involved although one 25-yard free kick nearly caught City unawares.
(Replaced Fredericks) The old boy endured a bit of a torrid time against City's attack in the second half.
(Replace Johnson) No more effective that young Johnson, who he replaced.
It may well be his final appearance in claret and blue, the lack of notable effort was evident. * Other subs used: Grady Diangana (Lanzini 62); Winston Reid (Ogbonna 68).
Match FactsWest Ham United: Roberto Jimenez Gago, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Mark Noble 25 .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks.