Nerveless Noble left gutted by West Ham’s Liverpool loss
13:05 10 December 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hammers midfielder Mark Noble slotted in a penalty, but it was Liverpool who claimed the three points
West Ham midfielder Mark Noble confessed that the team were ‘a bit naïve’ after they threw away a 2-1 lead to lose to Liverpool at Upton Park on Sunday.
Noble’s penalty, plus an own goal from Steven Gerrard had given the Hammers a half-time lead and they seemed to be heading for another three points until Liverpool struck twice in the closing stages to snatch all the points.
“We were in control,” said the 25-year-old. “We were feeling comfortable, probably a little bit too comfortable.
“We know that Liverpool are going to have a lot of the play, that’s the way Brendan Rodgers sets up his teams, but we were in charge and just got a bit naïve in the end.”
That may have been down to two reasons. Firstly last week’s victory over Chelsea gave them renewed confidence and secondly, the loss of the marauding Mo Diame through injury proved a crucial blow.
“Last week we were 2-1 up against Chelsea and we went on and got the third goal and I think we hunted for that a little bit too much and just go caught cold,” explained Noble.
“But it was a huge blow to lose Mo Diame. We had our shape set up, we were comfortable and all knew what we were doing, but then he gets injured and we had to change it around a little bit and it chucked a spanner in the works.”
It certainly did and undid all the good work that West Ham had done in the first half as they overturned Glen Johnson’s superb early goal to haul themselves in front by the break.
The breakthrough came on 36 minutes when Guy Demel’s shot was blocked by the outstretched arm of Joe Allen in the box and referee Lee Probert awarded a penalty.
It put Noble up against Pepe Reina, one of the best spot-kick savers in the Premier League and the goalkeeper who had denied West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final shoot-out.
This time it was Noble who was the master, much to his relief.
“I don’t know if you remember, but I took one here against Reina to win the game in the 93rd minute before,” reflected the Hammers’ longest-serving player.
“He went the right way today and got close to it, but couldn’t quite get it. He said to me afterwards, I’m going to get one soon.
“But if they go in the corner, it is rare that the keeper saves them and luckily enough it hit the side-netting and managed to go in.”
There was no luck about it. It was a majestic penalty, though it all came to nothing as Liverpool hit back.
“We are disappointed and it shows you how far we have come as a club,” said Noble, who has now made 235 appearances.
“We have come in after losing 3-2 with no points and we are sitting in there gutted that we haven’t got a result against a team like Liverpool.”