It was probably the best defensive display we’ll see from the boys all season. James Collins and James Tomkins were both solid at the heart of the defence, while Mo Diame and Kevin Nolan were instrumental in midfield to keep quiet the lively Phillip Coutinho and impressive Lucas.
Keeping Luis Suarez quiet is always going to be a daunting challenge for any side but, even though he could have had at least a brace, the side put everything on the line to ensure he didn’t find the back of the net. Several important blocks boosted our attempt to take something from the game, while we could have had a penalty in the second half.
It won’t go down as a Premier League classic, but both sides were made to rue missed chances and will feel they could and should have left Anfield with all three points.
Nevertheless, it will be West Ham who would have been the happiest at the final whistle as top-flight safety becomes more and more likely. It also continued our record of not losing our first game of the month this season (W7, D2).
Having not won at Anfield for 50 years and with the likes of Winston Reid, Joe Cole, Andy Carroll and Mark Noble all missing from the match day squad, everyone was expecting a straight forward victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
But West Ham’s determination to keep a clean sheet away from home was rewarded. We have lowest goal scoring total in all four divisions (9), which meant the chances of us registering at Anfield were even slimmer than normal, leaving Allardyce lining his side up to soak up Liverpool’s pressure and try and catch them on the break, which they did well in spells.
Furthermore, the 3-1 home win against West Brom last weekend will have given the side a huge boost of confidence going in to this game and there appears to be a real belief amongst the players at the moment, which is important as we enter the final stretch of the campaign.
Jussi Jaaskelainen didn’t have a great deal to do all afternoon -thanks to Collins and Tomkins – but, when called upon, he was equal to everything.
Liverpool dictated the game and enjoyed most of the possession, which was expected, but the Hammers soaked it up well and cancelled out almost every attack that came their way. Even when Stewart Downing went off for Daniel Sturridge early in the first half, the boys adapted well and didn’t buckle under the extra attacking threat from the hosts.
Collison almost won it at the death but his glancing header was cleared off the line by Lucas, while Liverpool’s best chance of the game fell to Steven Gerrard in the middle of the penalty area, but his placed effort was impressively blocked on the line by Tomkins and cleared to safety.
Mo Diame was busy in midfield and went went on several of his powerful runs throughout the game, one of which almost saw him score at the end, but his effort was blazed well over.
Did we deserve it?
Yes. Despite Liverpool enjoying 65% of the possession and having more attempts on goal, it was our defensive display that was well worthy of a clean sheet. With that in mind, we would have deserved a victory had we been a little luckier/clinical in front of goal.
But, considering Liverpool were expected to wipe the floor with us, a point at Anfield might turn out to be one of the our most important results of the season.
We all winced when we saw that Reid wasn’t playing and that the inconsistent Collins would start alongside Tomkins, but they both put any fears to bed and showed us that they can deputise for Reid whenever they need to without any hassle at all.
On reflection, it was a fair result. Both sides could have won it, while it would have been harsh on either to have lost.
Who stood out for the Hammers?
James Collins was the side’s most influential player at Anfield. He almost sigle handedly kept Liverpool at bay by throwing his body on the line on several occasions. Tomkins, before limping off, was also instrumental at the back and his performance showed again just how much he has improved over the last couple of years.
Gary O’Neil also continues to improve every week and, despite looking slightly lightweight on the ball at times, didn’t put a foot wrong and appears to be linking up well with Diame and Nolan in midfield.
Matt Jarvis is consistently good at the moment, but his lack of confidence when running at players shines through and there were a couple of times in yesterday’s game when he could have continued running into Liverpools penalty area, but he regularly chose to hold the ball up and lay backwards or cross early instead.
Up front, Carlton Cole did all he could to deal with the balls pinged in to him, but his finishing still isn’t up to scratch and he didn’t do anything to suggest Allardyce will keep him in the side for the trip to Southampton next weekend – Andy Carroll is more than likely to come straight back in to the side.
It’s a trip to Southampton next and a win will take us to the magic 40 points and all but mathematically secure another season in the top-flight.
We’re level on points with the Saints (37), which means a win for either side will mean safety. The hosts have impressed in recent weeks and their new manager Pochettino has them playing good, attractive football.
However, we’ll be boosted by the returning Andy Carroll and, hopefully, Joe Cole, so we can expect a stronger side than the one that earned the draw at Anfield.
The key at St. Mary’s will be to stop Southampton playing their brand of football. We all saw how good they are passing the ball when they beat Reading on Saturday and they’re very clinical in front of goal, so the defence will have to be at their very best once again.
It won’t be an easy trip, but another draw would probably be a good result given that Southampton have beaten both City and Liverpool at home this season, while also losing in the final minute to United.