West Ham United were unable to become the first team to beat Liverpool at Anfield this season after they lost 1-0 against Jürgen Klopp’s men in Saturday’s late kick-off.
David Moyes made three changes to the side that were knocked out of the FA Cup by Southampton just three days earlier, as Declan Rice missed out due to illness. Although Mark Noble was amongst the substitutes, Aaron Cresswell was given the Captain’s armband. Tomáš Souček was fit to retain his place, while Łukasz Fabiański was also back in the starting line-up in place of Alphonse Areola, who dropped to the bench. Nikola Vlašić was handed a rare start with Issa Diop making way.
Arthur Masuaku featured in a matchday squad for the first time since the victory at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, while youngsters Dan Chesters and Armstrong Oko-Flex were also named.
The Reds, who suffered their first defeat of the campaign in November’s reverse fixture were almost ahead in this one after just seventy five seconds through Mohammed Salah but fortunately for the travelling support, Fabianski was alert to the danger and made a magnificent save.
Virgil van Dijk then tried his luck but he only missed by inches before Craig Dawson did superbly to deny both Salah and Luis Díaz efforts on goal. Finally the Egyptian, along with Sadio Mané, also dragged other attempts wide of the target.
The Irons weren’t able to keep Mané at bay for long though, as on twenty seven minutes, he had put his side ahead. The striker was in the right place to latch onto Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross-shot and then squeeze in between both Dawson and Fabianski to put the ball into the back of the net. Referee Jonathan Moss allowed the goal to stand but it was still checked by VAR for a possible offside but eventually, both parties agreed that there was nothing wrong with the effort.
It was a real shame for West Ham to see that goal go in, as moments before Klopp’s side opened the scoring, both Souček and Michail Antonio went close but were unable to apply the finish on either of the two occasions.
The hosts nearly had a second goal in quick succession through Salah but somehow, Cresswell stopped the ball from crossing the line.
A great chance for the visitors to equalise arrived in the thirty ninth minute when Pablo Fornals raced past the home side’s defence and only had goalkeeper Alisson Becker to beat but he took another touch, before lobbing the Brazilian but unfortunately, he was able to get back in time to make the block, while Alexander-Arnold was also on hand to help out.
In helping to rescue his goalkeeper, the defender also blocked Vlašić’s follow-up shot.
Although they found themselves a goal down at the break, Moyes’ men had actually turned in an impressive performance. They might have been rueing that chance to equalise though.
Having said that, their momentum still seemed to be with them at the start of the second-half but they were dealt a huge blow minutes after the restart. Jarrod Bowen picked up a serious-looking foot injury, following a challenge by Andrew Robertson. After lengthy treatment and trying to continue, the former Hull City winger was eventually replaced by Saïd Benrahma.
The injury really disrupted West Ham’s rhythm and Liverpool were trying all they could to increase their advantage but fortunately for the travelling contingent, both Naby Keita and Díaz shot wide, while Salah had two more efforts either side of Noble being introduced for Vlašić just after the hour but they were both straight at Fabianski.
Nine minutes later, West Ham had another opportunity which they really should have taken advantage of. Souček sent a right-wing cross over to Manuel Lanzini. His initial composure was brilliant but after that effort had been blocked, the ball fell back to him but he rushed the follow-up and only succeeded in sending it miles off target.
The Hammers had one more chance to grab themselves a point to take back to Stratford but unfortunately, Antonio wasn’t able to make the most of his opportunity either.
Five minutes of stoppage time were initially signalled but due to three substitutions being made by both managers in that time; including the visitors bringing on Chesters in place of Fornals, this was extended. However, when Moss blew the final whistle, Liverpool were relieved to have held on, meaning that Moyes will have to wait a while longer for a first ever triumph at Anfield.
The Irons are back in action on Thursday night when they face a trip to Spain to take on La Liga outfit Sevilla in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.