Not a massive fan of late kick offs so I dragged myself down to Upton Park for this game which had been moved for our friends on the telly. Having a chat with Angry pre game, and some random turns up and gives us free beer as his mates had disappeared, so the day was looking up. Anyway the bottom line of this chat, was that for us to get anything out of this, Liverpool needed to be having an off day. But at least we have a chance after it appears that Sam’s attacking football ™ is starting to gel, following the Hull game last Monday.
So the game starts in front of a vocal full house and the atmosphere is electric. After 90 seconds it goes to 11 once Winston Reid scores from a Tomkins knock down, the put the hammers into the lead. As everyone was settling into the pattern, of Liverpool attack and WHU counter, when Sakho lofted over Mignolet from the right hand side to double the lead, within 6 minutes. Now, whether it was really a cross or not, I’ll leave for him to answer, but from the Bobby Moore Upper it looked fantastic.
Being a West Ham fan, you know this isn’t enough, so the more Liverpool got the ball, the more concerned for the final result you were. And they got the ball a lot, but Balotelli and Sterling didn’t really offer the threat of a Sturridge and Suarez. One other highlight in the first half was everyones favourite pantomime villain Balotelli, going straight through Adrian, and nearly get a hiding for his trouble, but in the end they both settled for yellow cards. Liverpool got one back just before half time, when a Balotelli shot rebounded off Cresswell onto an onrushing Sterling to fire into the bottom left corner, with a well taken strike. The half time conversation was not as comfortable as you would expect being 2-1 up, and we started the second half waiting for inevitable. Which never came. The scousers battled on and had way more ball. but there was no plan B outside of give it to Sterling. Gerrard wasn’t driving on and Henderson looked like he had regressed two years.
West Ham had the odd counter, but to be fair this period wasn’t as eventful as the first half, unless you count Lovren chasing after Valencia, because Valencia won the ball in the air, but Lovren was convinced he had been butted (he wasn’t, but he had taken a massive bang in the head in first half, so maybe can be forgiven for his reaction). With 2 minutes to go, WHU broke and an improving Downing threaded through a great ball for new boy Amalfitano to slot home the final goal of the game, and end any hope Liverpool had of points today.
I don’t say this very often, but Sam got it right today, keeping Sakho and Valencia up top, and putting in Alex Song with Noble. Alex Song. Now this guy is some player. He doesn’t do any more than anyone else, but everything he does is completed correctly, and without fuss. He makes every pass and sees balls that our other midfielders don’t. And he knows when to put himself out there to pick up a card, just to stop the game. Lets hope he stays. Also something else i don’t say a lot, Downing played well, and seems to be happier in his distribution now we have a quicker frontline. Lets hope Sam allows this midfield to continue to flourish, once Nolan is fit.
Sam also made the right call, by throwing on Collins as soon as Rodgers put in Lambert, to make sure the existing players on the pitch didn’t have to change their style to combat a new offence.
So well played Sam, well played West Ham, and well played Alex Song (MOTM). Going back to my pre game chat, I don’t think Liverpool had an off day, I think they are just at that level without Sturridge. They better enjoy the CL this year, because I don’t think they will be in it next year. Also, If Sterling and Borini would like to stop the diving, that would be nice as well.