The title-campaign for Liverpool this season has been one of total surprises. From early-season performers to top-4 contenders to title-hopefuls to genuine title-contenders, Liverpool have gone from strength to strength with every passing game. Strength – that’s what was required as the Reds head into this fixture. Both mental and physical strength.
Brendan Rodgers’ men have made their name playing slick passing and clever football. Against West Ham in London they certainly had to find another way and another way they did find. A robust West Ham defence that saw off the hottest attacking side in the country were finally ripped apart with one raking 50 yard pass from the boot of England and Reds’ skipper Steven Gerrard. Uruguayan genius Luis Suarez won the penalty cleverly playing Tomkins into a deliberate handball situation and from 12 yards with Stevie G on the ball, there could have been just one result. About a minute from the half-time whistle, having just taken the lead another Hammers corner was awarded. Virtually, the last kick of the ball – it ended being quite a controversial one. As Mark Noble floated the ball across the six-yard box, Reds keeper Simon Mignolet appeared to have collected the ball only for former Red Andy Caroll to impede him and knock it off him for Guy Demel to stab it home from point-blank range. A sense of injustice was felt among all Liverpool supportersand players, A quiet word in the referee’s ears from manager Brendan Rodgers was the end of the protests on his and his players behalf. The second half saw a revitalised and better Liverpool side. A tactical switch in bringing on Lucas Leiva saw the game taken away from the Hammers. Another penalty to the Reds after Hammers keeper Adrian brought young Flannagan down in the box and the coolest customer in all of Upton Park stepped up for the penalty. Calmly slotting it home with minimum fuss, captain fantastic saw his beloved side back to the top of the league.
Still 5 games to go. 5 Cup Finals as Rodgers’ likes to call them and the next Cup Final will be the ultimate test of character.