Hope everyone is safe and well.
Continuing my series of past games looks at the draw at home to Liverpool on 4th February 2019.
League leaders Liverpool were looking to go 5 points clear of title chasing Manchester City, but were held to draw at London Stadium to a West Ham side who showed enough in attack to earn a point. Another laboured performance from the Reds after a draw with Leicester City in the week handed some crucial ground to Man City.
Liverpool started well and were rewarded for their threat in front of goal when Sadio Mane fled past Fanianski on 22nd minute, despite James Milner, who provided the assist, being offside in the build-up.
But the Hammers were not to be beaten, playing with some freedom and making the clearer chances throughout the match six minutes later Michail Antonio scored a deserved equaliser as Liverpools defence failed to clock Felipe Anderson’s neatly disguised free-kick that Antonio picked up on his run into the area and drive a low angled shot that went in off the post. This was Antonio’s fourth goal in his five Premier League games against Liverpool.
The Reds attack failed to put the Hammers defence under any severe pressure with just two efforts from Mohamed Sarah and a header from Mane, comfortably dealt with by Fabianski. Divork Origi lost sight of goal for the final kick of the game shooting straight at the keeper, for another comfortable save.
The Hammers made the Reds defence look amateurish as they repeatedly failed to track runners from free-kicks, highlighted cruelly for the equaliser as Antonio caught the defence napping when they seemed to be ready for Anderson to play high into the area, instead of a low pass to set up Michail for his diagonal run fire past Allison.
The Hammers could have taken all three points as soon after the equaliser Anderson – voted man of the match – went around the side of the wall from another free kick to get a shot away, whilst Declan Rice also headed over the bar when unmarked.
The draw ended a run of three straight defeats for the Hammers, who should feel that the game was theirs to win as the Reds errors highlighted the absences of injured defensive trio Lovren, Gomez and Alexander-Arnold.
But credit must be given to the Hammers defence for playing with impressive organisation, a welcome improvement after a dismal defeat to Wimbledon in the FA Cup. Bright and inventive in possession, Pellegrini was clearer disappointed with the draw. Rightly angry about Milner’s offside and again with Origi’s opportunity, but when asked about speaking to the officials about what Manuel felt were clear errors by the officials, he shrugged his shoulders. But the gaffer highlighted the many opportunities the team had to seal a victory.
The result left Manuel Pellegrini’s side 12th, level on 32 points with 11th placed Leicester City.