West Ham show fighting qualities now bring on the Brighton!
PUBLISHED: 11:59 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:59 30 January 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Another home defeat but at least the Hammers gave it a real go against mighty Liverpool
In the grand scheme of things, a home defeat by champions-elect Liverpool was no more than expected, but in the build-up to a crucial clash with Brighton tomorrow, this was a promising performance.
West Ham may have slipped to their seventh home defeat of the league season, but to keep Jurgen Klopp's team to two goals and stay out of the bottom three was something of an accomplishment.
Perhaps I am clutching at straws. After all, the Hammers failed to score, Liverpool had a staggering 71 per cent of possession and did not need to step through the gears.
But for West Ham there was much to commend them.
They stayed organised, they battled for every ball and perhaps most importantly they tested the visitors and could easily have grabbed a goal they deserved.
"I thought the players did a good job defensively," said manager David Moyes. "We were playing against a really good team, but we made opportunities."
He's right. There were some good individual performances from the likes of Declan Rice, Robert Snodgrass and new boy Jeremy Ngakia, but it was the fact that the team held together that augurs well for tomorrow.
The defence was solid, aided by the return of Lukasz Fabianski, while the midfield were there to give them support.
On the downside was the gifting of the two goals.
First some poor defending by Angelo Ogbonna saw Issa Diop trip Divock Origi for a penalty and Mo Salah needed no second invitation.
Then, criminally, the Hammers conceded a second from their own corner as clinical Liverpool broke for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to slot home.
"We had talked about the speed of their counter-attack and more imortantly about not putting the ball near Van Dijk's head from a corner," said the boss.
"To lose the goal to the penalty in the first half was bad enough and then the counter-attack too at a time when we were growing into the game a little bit as well."
They were. Sebastien Haller may not have had a shot, but he brought others into the game excellently throughout.
Atrhur Masuaku set up Manuel Lanzini in the first half, while after the break, he fluffed another chance, Angelo Ogbonna went close with a header, Snodgrass forced a save, while the best two chances fell to Declan Rice.
First West Ham's man of the match had a shot well parried by Allyson after a brilliant run forward, with Trent Alexander-Arnold thumping the rebound against his own post.
Then Rice thumped a header goalwards which was brilliantly saved, West Ham deserved a goal, but it was not to be.
Perhaps most telling on the night was the cheers that greeted Lanzini's substituion.
It has been a nightmare few months for the little Argentinian and this could be the final straw.
Moyes was quick to defend and support the player.
"There is nobody more behind him than me," said the manager. "When I was here before I needed him as much as I eeded Marko Arnautovic.
"He was a good player for us and I am desperate to get him back to the level he was at."
It is clear that, at the moment, he is nowhere near that level and his dismal showing and poor finishing summed that up on Wednesday.
But tomorrow's game is now the vital one and the team would have taken confidence from this display.