After two less than acceptable recent performances, Liverpool made it a hat-trick of dross yesterday as they were well and truly outclassed, outfought, outthought and outwitted. Well and truly outeverythinged.
The writing was on the wall as Brendan Rodgers gave starts to Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini. Mamadou Sakho was sacrificed in favour of Martin Skrtel as predicted in the LFC File preview but a place for Lucas came as complete surprise. And Borini? Why? Thus with the bizarre selection, began the truly bizarre.
Liverpool fell behind in less than 120 seconds to a Winston Reid effort after Liverpool reject Stewart Downing’s early free-kick was nodded on by James Tomkins. Liverpool’s defence looked on in their usual static fashion. Frozen. Five minutes later, the visitors went further behind after Diafra Sakho’s punt from the right wing flew past a bewilderingly out of position Simon Mignolet and into the net.
Brendan Rodgers withdrew Javi Manquillo who Sam Allardyce had clearly singled out for some “attention”, replacing him with Sakho to make a back three. Up until then, I don’t think Liverpool had strung three passes together in anger only to find themselves in familiar – and losing – territory once again. The change had some effect but in fairness, Liverpool were always going to be chasing the game from thereon in .
Raheem Sterling pulled one back for Liverpool on 26 minutes to wipe the smile off Allardyce’s face, as the visitors seemed to wake up and finished the half strongly. Mario Balotelli began to show himself alongside the abjectly hopeless Borini. Steven Gerrard constantly misplaced passes along with Lucas, trying to outdo him in this regard. Henderson worked and pressed. Sterling chased back and Alberto Moreno got hemmed in.
The second half began with Adam Lallana coming on for Lucas. A change that was made 46 minutes too late in my view. Rodgers waited 75 minutes to take Borini off and replace him with Rickie Lambert. Liverpool dominated the second half but West Ham stuck to their task, much like Aston Villa did a week earlier. To confirm to the traveling fans how poor a performance they’d paid for, the visitors fell to a late sucker punch on 88 minutes for the second time in five days. Having poured everybody forward in search of an equalizer, a forward punt by Downing found Morgan Amalfitano in acres of space to head on upfield and slot home the knockout blow.
Brendan Rodgers said after the game that the team didn’t start with the right intensity. I think he should have replaced “the right” with “any” to be more precise. Up next is the derby with the noisy neighbors and I’d hate to be in Rodgers’ shoes if we lose that one.
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