Football news - Liverpool dealt title blow by West Ham draw
Premier League, London Stadium - West Ham United 1 (M. Antonio, 28) Liverpool 1 (S. Mane, 22)
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham at London Stadium, leaving their advantage over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League at three points.
Pep Guardiola’s side beat Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday to cut the deficit at the top of the table to just two points but an out-of-sorts Liverpool were unable to re-open the five-point advantage that they held at the start of the weekend.
Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the visitors with just 22 minutes gone, in rather controversial circumstances with assist-provider James Milner clearly offside, but West Ham rallied and levelled following a smart free-kick routine just minutes later, with Michail Antonio peeling off Naby Keita to slot past Alisson.
Jurgen Klopp’s side pressed for much of the second period but were unable fashion much in the way of clear-cut chances and it was West Ham, through Mark Noble, who could have taken all three points but his effort was a fraction high, with the draw moving Liverpool on to 62 points, three clear of City, with Spurs a further two points back on 57.
West Ham started the game on the front foot, and twice went close to an opener early on, before Liverpool’s luck was in, as Milner, from an offside position, set up Mane to break the deadlock, finishing well on the turn to take his Premier League tally to 11 this season.
Undeterred, the hosts kept coming at Liverpool and were level less than six minutes later, with Antonio converting a well-worked free-kick routine to score his fourth goal in five games against Liverpool – more than he has managed against any other side - before Declan Rice could have turned the match on its head just before the interval but headed over when unmarked in the box.
After the break, West Ham retreated deeper into their half, allowing Liverpool to enjoy plenty of possession, without ever really being troubled at the back, leaving Jurgen Klopp with plenty to ponder.
Javier Hernandez of West Ham United shoots past Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool FC at London Stadium on February 04, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.Getty Images
Will Liverpool regret not strengthening defence in January? Having waited so long for a Premier League title, it did seem that, given all their injury problems in defence, that allowing front line full-back Nathaniel Clyne to leave on loan, without bringing in a replacement, could come back to haunt Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp remained unconcerned, with James Milner able to fill in. However, Milner struggled against West Ham, with Joel Matip also looking vulnerable under pressure. Furthermore, Liverpool’s only defender on the bench at London Stadium was the volatile Alberto Moreno. With Joe Gomez out after undergoing surgery, one more injury absence could be catastrophic – why take the risk?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mark Noble - A real captain's performance from Noble, who just sneaks the award ahead of several impressive team-mates. He covered every blade of grass for the cause, and showed his quality on occasion to launch several Hammers attacks. Looked spent as he was withdrawn late on, having given everything.
Sadio Mane of Liverpool shoots while challenged by Mark Noble of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool FC at London Stadium on February 04, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.Getty Images
3’ - WIDE! Swift counter from West Ham, Mark Noble slides the ball onto Javier Hernandez, who cuts onto his right foot before firing just wide. Early warning for Liverpool.
11’ - WIDE! Close again for the hosts, as Liverpool can only clear as far as Aaron Cresswell, who drills for goal on the half volley, but it flies just wide once more.
21’ - CHANCE! Firmino feeds Mane, the ball rebounds to the Brazilian, he has time to pick his spot, but scuffs his effort and Fabianski saves easily. Had to do better there.
22’ - GOOOOOOOAAAALLLLL! West Ham 0-1 Liverpool. Quality from Mane as he breaks the deadlock. Brilliant feet from Lallana to get to the by-line before feeding Milner, who squared for Mane, who swivelled and stroked the ball home to give Liverpool the lead.
28’ - GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! West Ham 1-1 Liverpool. Wonderful free-kick routine from West Ham as Antonio equalises. Liverpool's lead lasts less than six minutes. The visitors were sleeping, expecting a cross into the middle from Anderson, who instead threaded a lovely pass to Antonio, who beat the Liverpool offside trap before slotting the ball in at the far post. Straight off the training ground.
41’ - CHAAAAANCE! Huge, huge chance for Declan Rice, after coasting into the Liverpool box, unmarked, on the end of a Anderson free-kick, but the young midfielder heads over the top with the goal at his mercy.
73’ - CLOSE! Anderson darts into the box, cuts on to his right, feeds Noble who fires first time for goal, but scoops it just over the top.
- West Ham are unbeaten in three consecutive home Premier League games (W1 D2) for the first time since February 2018 (a run of four).
- Liverpool have won 62 points from their opening 25 Premier League games this season - only during the 1987/88 campaign have they had more points at this stage of a top-flight season (63 – 3pts for a win).
- Liverpool’s Sadio Mané has scored three goals in his last three Premier League appearances, having scored just two in his previous 11 games.
- Liverpool’s James Milner has registered 81 assists in the Premier League, the seventh-highest total in the competition and one more than David Beckham (80).