West Ham's Anfield Agony Shows No Sign of Abating
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Feb 2015 13:14:00
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West Ham United's unbeaten start to 2015 came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Hammers' wretched run at Anfield continued. Liverpool really put the pressure on in the second-half and secured a 2-0 victory which meant the home side leapfrogged the Irons in the table.

Sam Allardyce made three changes, as James Collins and Joey O'Brien replaced the injured Carl Jenkinson and James Tomkins, while Morgan Amalfitano was preferred to Mark Noble in midfield.

Although the visitors kept it tight in the opening stages, the Reds had most of the early opportunities without finding the breakthrough until 24 minutes, when Adrian was forced into a save. Philippe Coutinho collected the ball from Raheem Sterling's backheel and took on the shot which the Spaniard was comfortable with despite diving down to his right.

Allardyce's men had a great chance to take the lead on 33 minutes after Amalfitano had sent over a cross from a corner which Collins headed on but Liverpool stopper Simon Mignolet prevented Andy Carroll's header from going into the net.

The East Londoners were saved from going a goal behind just before the break as Lazar Markovic blazed over after Stewart Downing had lost possession.

Liverpool started the second-half on the front foot and made the breakthrough just six minutes after the action had recommenced, as Coutinho combined well with Sterling again and the midfielder slotted the ball into the net to leave Adrian finally beaten.

On 55 minutes, Big Sam decided to swap Amalfitano with Noble after he had originally selected the Frenchman in the starting line-up.

A minute later, Enner Valencia had time and space to try a shot but could not release the ball quick enough and the chance had gone.

There was big trouble for the Hammers on 59 minutes, as Carroll tried to block Emre Can's path to the ball and in so doing went down after his knee gave way. Four minutes later, it became clear that he was unable to continue and was replaced by Carlton Cole.

Liverpool could have doubled their lead on 68 minutes, but Jordan Henderson shot wide and in an effort to get the home side to start creating more chances, Brendan Rodgers replaced Markovic with Daniel Sturridge, who had not been in action since early August. Allardyce then followed suit just five minutes later, when it appeared that Collins had suffered a re-occurrence of the hamstring injury that kept him out of the win against Bristol City in the FA Cup last weekend. The Welshman was replaced by Guy Demel.

There was then action at both ends on 77 minutes; Alberto Moreno gave possession away and Downing collected the ball to send in a cross, which was palmed over by Mignolet for a corner. Unfortunately for the Hammers however, the Belgian international was there to claim when the ball came back from the corner and Liverpool were able to break. Luckily Sturridge's cross shot was well saved by Adrian.

Liverpool doubled their advantage with ten minutes to play and Sturridge had more reason to celebrate his return to action; Courtinho drew the West Ham defenders out of position as he broke from midfield and spotted the striker in space who sent the ball home past Adrian.

A minute later, Rodgers decided to bring on Jordon Ibe in place of Courtinho and the youngster got involved in the action straight away as he set up Sturridge but he was unable to double his tally for the afternoon, as he saw his shot go just wide.

The injury situation was to get worse for Allardyce as on 85 minutes, he saw Winston Reid pick up a hamstring injury, meaning his side had to end the game with ten men.

O'Brien had the ball in the net as the match entered four minutes of stoppage time, but the effort was ruled out due to captain Kevin Nolan's foul on Mignolet.

All of which meant the visitors were left to reflect on what had been a difficult afternoon in terms of the result and the loss of personnel, but West Ham supporters need not worry as it is only Manchester United who are up at Upton Park next Sunday!

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