Hammers Put Further Dent In Liverpool’s title hopes

West Ham United ended April by holding title-chasing Liverpool to a 2-2 draw in Saturday’s early kick-off.

David Moyes made two changes to the side that were soundly beaten by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park six days ago, as Alphonse Areola was able to return to the starting line-up in place of Łukasz Fabiański in goal. The Hammers’ boss was also hopeful that Jarrod Bowen would be fit enough to start and luckily, he did come through a late fitness test in order to make his 200th appearance for the club. James Ward-Prowse was the unfortunate one to drop to the bench.

Youngsters Kaelan Casey and Divin Mubama were also included in the matchday squad.

Both teams went into this game off the back of disappointing results with the Irons wanting to make up for that 5-2 trouncing in South London, while Jürgen Klopp’s men played in midweek and suffered a surprising 2-0 defeat to Everton in the Merseyside derby.

What would have pleased the home fans when the action got underway was that although the visitors applied all the early pressure, it came to nothing.

Mohammed Kudus could have given the hosts a perfect start when he won a corner after Ryan Gravenberch had made a hash of a chance up the other end. Unfortunately, the effort from Kudus didn’t result in a meaningful chance.

Some of the travelling support who had made the long journey down from Merseyside thought that Harvey Elliott had given their team the lead as early as the eleventh minute but fortunately for the majority inside the stadium, he only found the side netting.

After that scare, the home side started to get their rhythm going and Bowen tried his luck but at this early stage in the game, he couldn’t beat visiting goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

Areola was alert to the danger and kept out a powerful attempt from Gravenberch after Cody Gakpo failed to connect with the ball.

That didn’t stop the Reds from trying to open the scoring though, as Trent Alexander-Arnold took a free-kick but in truth, it was no trouble for the Frenchman.

There was more relief for the hosts after referee Anthony Taylor had initially awarded the visitors a penalty, following Areola’s foul on Luis Díaz. However, after consultation with VAR, an offside was spotted, meaning the spot kick wasn’t given.

Becker was in the right place to prevent Vladimír Coufal from putting the hosts in front with just over thirty minutes gone, before Gakpo went close from the edge of the box but his effort was off target.

Liverpool then had their first clear opportunity but West Ham once again survived, as the Colombian saw his effort come back off the post.

It was then the turn of the home side to try and turn the screw on their opponents. Bowen sent over a free-kick but unfortunately, Tomáš Souček couldn’t finish the chance off.

The Czech midfielder went close again just minutes later but his effort was deflected and went out of play for a corner. The set-piece was delivered into the area and Kudus then set up Bowen, who brought loud cheers from the home fans with just two minutes of normal time to play before the break as he found a way past Becker and that’s the way it stayed when Taylor blew the half-time whistle. Now, West Ham just had to try and hold on.

Liverpool are renowned for finding a way back into games and almost did here but fortunately, Gravenberch sent an effort over the bar. However, the equaliser arrived shortly after, Andrew Robertson found the net when he eased past the defence and slotted the ball past Areola.

The two Dutch internationals combined again on fifty one minutes but Gravenberch wasn’t able to get on the of his teammates cross with the whole goal to aim at, while the roles were then reversed but the visitors still didn’t score, as Angelo Ogbonna produced a vital block.

Alexander-Arnold again tested Areola but the Frenchman was equal to the defender’s effort just before the hour mark. However, another few minutes had elapsed and West Ham were behind when Gakpo’s attempt took deflections off both Ogbonna and Souček but the home stopper was the man to get the final touch as he saw it go over the line, meaning Moyes’ men would once again have to come from behind.

Four minutes later, Díaz might have extended the advantage for Klopp’s men when he was one-on-one with Areola but he was unable to find the back of the net.

Moyes must have been glad that his first-choice goalkeeper had returned from injury in time for this game, as he then saw him thwart Alexis Mac Allister from close-range.

On seventy four minutes, made his one and only change, as Ward-Prowse was introduced for Souček.

Shortly after the former Southampton midfielder entered the fray, Emmerson Palmieri tried his luck but he was not able to replicate his effort from the match against Brentford at the end of February, as Becker produced a tremendous save.

It didn’t matter however, as the Hammers were soon back on level terms when Bowen set up Michail Antonio to head past Becker.

The away side were clearly trying to see if they could get the next goal that would surely wrap the points up. With that in mind, Klopp made a triple substitution, as Darwin Núñez, Mohamed Salah and Joe Gomez came on for Alexander-Arnold, Wataru Endō and Díaz.

Both Salah and Núñez made the desired impact as they fashioned a chance but fortunately for the home faithful, Núñez didn’t get a proper connection to a cross from the right-wing.

The Egyptian international was really making the difference in the closing stages and he could have set up another goal which would have meant that the Reds took all three points to Merseyside with them. Although Areola was beaten, Elliott’s shot thudded against the crossbar.

With that opportunity been missed, five minutes of stoppage time were added and deep into the allotted period, the game could have swung in favour of the home side. Ward-Prowse took a free-kick and found Antonio. The frontman then tried his luck but the ball went for a corner.

Having awarded the set-piece, Taylor then decided that there was no time to take it and both teams had to settle for a draw.

The result wasn’t really any good for either team but the East Londoners would have been the happier of the two sides with the way that the game ended.

The tough games keep on coming for Moyes and his men at the moment and another one awaits next Sunday when they head to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea.