LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Michail Antonio of West Ham United scores his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on January 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Liverpool’s top 4 hopes take a hit with poor performance against West Ham

Liverpool needed a good result against West Ham United if they hoped to put further pressure on the top-4. Instead, after 90 minutes it was the Hammers who came away with the three points. West Ham defeated Liverpool on the back of goals from Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll.

West Ham came into today’s match unbeaten in six, but five of those were draws. The home side had only won once in their last nine.

Liverpool, however had won their last two, and were up to 30 points, level with Manchester United after their 1-0 win against Sunderland on Wednesday.

It became clear early on that West Ham were going to be a tough test for Liverpool. West Ham made it difficult for anyone in a white shirt to move the ball through the midfield. Mark Noble made his presence felt early by intercepting pass deep in Liverpool’s own half. His interception gave Antonio the home side’s first real chance of the game. His shot skimmed past the post, but he didn’t have to wait long for another bite at the cherry.

After making a challenge deep in his own end, Antonio got on his horse, and sprinted down the pitch. The forward eventually found his way onto the end of a perfect cross from Enner Valencia. Antonio put the ball past Mignolet and the Hammers had a 1:0 lead. Liverpool weren’t happy as they felt Anotnio fouled Alberto Moreno. Referee Robert Madley felt Antonio caught enough of the ball and let the two sides play on.

Liverpool enjoyed the majority of possession all day, but it was West Ham that were the better side throughout. West Ham had a few chances to increase their lead in the first half, but were unable to beat Mignolet or the post. Liverpool, otherwise provided very little going forward. Apart from an Emre Can shot that hit off the crossbar, the visitors never looked like they were going to score.

At the start of the second half, Liverpool looked more dangerous than they did in the first, but they still had trouble getting behind West Ham’s defense. Ten minutes after the restart, they were made to pay for their lack of offense. Carroll, the former Liverpool striker, doubled his side’s lead with a perfect header. The goal came from another great cross, this time from Noble. 

The match would end at 2:0. Following Carroll’s goal, West Ham simply saw out the game, not letting Liverpool get comfortable. Despite an odd chance either way, Carroll’s goal was effectively one goal too many for Liverpool.

The Premier League table is so close that Liverpool’s top four hopes have not been seriously damaged. Though, given the form of the teams around them, Liverpool were given a golden opportunity to move closer to the top. Today’s loss is a set back, but one they can recover from.

For West Ham, it’s another feather in their cap for a team that has boasted victories at home against some of the biggest teams in England. They’ve beaten Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea so far this season. They now leap-frog Liverpool in the table and sit in fifth place just 3 points behind Tottenham.

Jürgen Klopp said after the match that his team’s performance was “Not enough, not enough in the decisive moments.” The German coach will be frustrated his side wasn’t able to produce a strong offensive performance today. Christian Benteke, who had scored in his last two matches, looked completely lost today. In Benteke’s defense, he never received the kind of service he needs to make an impact. 

West Ham and Liverpool will now turn their attention to cup ties this week. West Ham will host Championship side Wolverhampton in the FA Cup, while Liverpool play Stoke in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday before traveling to Exeter City in the FA Cup on Friday.

Harrison Prolic

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.

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