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Monday, 28 February 2011
WEST HAM 3-1 LIVERPOOL MATCH REPORT
With Liverpool on their best run of form of the season there was high hopes of keeping this run of form going at East London. Fresh from a tough Europa League win over Sparta Prague last Thursday changes to the team would be expected as Dalglish would look to freshen things up. West Ham who are struggling at the bottom of the table have looked a better side in recent weeks with a few new players coming in the January transfer window has really strengthened the Hammers. So I'm sure Liverpool were expecting a very tough game.
As expected Dalglish did make changes to his side, Skrtel and Carragher came back into defence with Suarez and club captain Gerrard also starting. Young Wilson kept his place on the left side of defence with Kelly on the right, it really had a good attacking look to the side with Johnson starting on the left side of midfield giving plenty of pace down the flanks. Lucas and Meireles in the middle with Kuyt and Suarez pushing forward and Gerrard pulling the strings looked a positive line-up.
The game started with Liverpool almost getting an early chance when Suarez just failed to find the onrushing Gerrard, but West Ham responded with Hitzlsperger volleying from long range which gave Reina some early action. The game was off to a hectic start as Liverpool had the next chance when Gerrard found Meireles with a clever pass but his header was off target, then Meireles had a shot comfortably saved by Green. Liverpool were having the better of the chances and Johnson had a powerful goalbound header blocked. But the game changed with the first goal and it was West Ham that got it on 22 minutes when a clever move between Parker and Hitzlsperger was expertly finished by Parker stunning Liverpool who had started the game well. Liverpool responded immediately with Suarez laying off to Kuyt but his 25 yard shot hit the side netting. But the goal gave West Ham a real lift and Piquionne flashed a shot across the face of goal as Liverpool were put under pressure. Gerrard was not seeing much of the ball as the West Ham midfield were not giving Liverpool time on the ball, the industrious Parker dominating the midfield. Kelly and Johnson were looking Liverpool's biggest threat down the flanks and it was Kelly who had the next chance as he cut in from the right and hit a low drive which Green dived low to save, minutes later Kelly made a surging run down the right but pulled up clutching his left hamstring and had to be replaced by Joe Cole with Johnson coming over to his more familiar right back position. If that blow was not bad enough then worse was to follow as West Ham doubled their lead when O'Neil crossed to the unmarked Ba who headed past the helpless Reina just before half time. 4 minutes into the second half Meireles had to be replaced by N'Gog after picking up an injury in the first half. West Ham were still dominating as Liverpool struggled to gain a foothold in the match as Ba went very close with a shot. Hitzlsperger and Jacobsen had long range efforts as West Ham kept on the offensive. Suarez who had been well martialled all day turned Upson and unleashed a powerful shot which Green saved brilliantly. Piquionne should have made it 3-0 with a free header from close range, then Gerrard had a long range effort just over as Liverpool started to sustain some late pressure. Then on 84 minutes Suarez turned brilliantly before firing across the face of goal which Johnson knocked in from close range giving Liverpool hope. But in stoppage time Liverpool were finished off when Cole shrugged off Skrtel before beating Reina at his near post with a low drive.
I knew this would be a very tough game but I was disappointed the way West Ham dominated us for long periods after us starting off quite well. The first goal proved crucial as West Ham were boosted by it and started to dominate. I was really happy with Kenny's team selection as it had an attacking look to it but I felt we lost the midfield battle as Parker dominated and Gerrard struggled to get into the game looking a bit rusty aswell. Overall I though the hungrier looking team won and we need to pick ourselves up and improve for the visit of Manchester United next Sunday.
Man of the Match - Johnson - made some good runs forward and rewarded with a goal.