David N'Gog gets Liverpool's second...
Anfield attendance was of a lowered tally for Monday nights clash, possibly due to the numerous amount of people still stuck abroad. A lack in the Anfield faithful though was not going to put a downer on the team or the performance against the London side battling to stay in football's top league.
After the injury to Fernando Torres and the ongoing injury to Emiliano Insua, Benitez had to field another different looking Liverpool side. This time out he opted to start N'Gog leading the line with Kuyt sitting very closely off the French youngster.
The midfield saw Mascherano dropped with Benayoun and Maxi on the wings, whilst Gerrard and Lucas slotted in the centre. The back four was the same used against Fulham, Agger still remaining as stand in left back and Reina was in goal.
Liverpool started the game with good possession and fluidity, West Ham were being made to look dysfunctional but with some skillful flashes from the likes of Cole and Stanislas, the Reds could not afford to go to sleep.
Liverpool's first goal was created from a Steven Gerrard free kick. When the ball was whipped in a quick thinking Yossi Benayoun made the run and actually managed to send the ball in off the post by using his stomach. Not the most practical body part for scoring goals but it was one nil nonetheless.
A subdued celebration from the gentleman like Benayoun due to the opposition being his former employees.
West Ham's defence was already being made to look average but their attempts to defend the set piece were more than sloppy. If Liverpool could keep their heads and get another goal, the three points were ours.
It didn't take long before Liverpool settled any nerves that may have been loitering in the crowd. When Yossi Benayoun played a pin point pass to Maxi Rodriguez who was awaiting on the right wing, his job was clear, supply a decent cross.
His cross was above standard though, perfectly reaching David N'Gog - who was poised in the box, with just enough pace.
N'Gog hit it first time and with a great finish sent the effort straight past Robert Green. As the commentator correctly described the goal "taken like Torres". The lad gets a lot of stick to be honest, he's still learning and his goalscoring record already is nothing to frown upon. People need to lay off him a bit.
Maxi Rodriguez with a great assist i also feel needs to be mentioned. What a fantastic performance from the Argentinian, easily my MOTM. I've been keeping a close eye on him now in a few league fixtures and it is clear that he has settled in perfectly.
Some people have been questioning whether it has been due to the weaker opposition (i.e. Portsmouth, Fulham and now West Ham), these however are just poor excuses. It is clear from just looking at his movement, his confidence that he has already adapted to the style of the English league. What a steal he has been and a great signing by Rafael Benitez.
Here's to his continued improvement, i am just gutted that he is ineligible for our Europa League clashes that we have left. What an asset.
For the remainder of the first half Liverpool were untroubled by West Ham, it was almost as if that fight that they so clearly had against Everton had disappeared in the fixture against the better half of Merseyside.
Liverpool's third and final goal came in the second half. Kyrgiakos who is constantly adding to his CV for a fan favourite vacancy was again making his presence in the box.
It was another Steven Gerrard free kick that sent the ball high in to the box, the powerful Greek international managed to get a foot on the end of it, after it rebounded off the post it then hit the back of Robert Green and went down as an own goal. Soto celebrated anyway... After all, he did the work.
The shot of Upson said it all after our third goal, he was beaten by N'Gog for the second and again beaten by Kyrgiakos that created the third. He looked disgusted at his own performance and the combined effort of his team mates as the Hammers trailed 3 goals to nil.
West Ham brought on Benni McCarthy as the second half wore on. He replaced the believed to be injured Carlton Cole. The introduction of the fresh legged striker though came to no avail as the clock began to tick down.
What i could not understand is why Zola did not opt to start Diamanti? Assuming he was fully fit he was a must have in order for them to be a threat at Anfield.
Liverpool managed to retain their lead and clean sheet when the final whistle was blown.
Pepe Reina is now a great contender for the "Golden Gloves" award after this clean sheet brought his total to 15 in the league for Liverpool.
Liverpool are now in 6th with Villa to play in the week and Spurs/City still having a game in hand it is getting nervy in the race for fourth. Fact is though, anything could happen. This win has at least gave us some sort of optimism should things fall into our own hands.
Next up for Liverpool is the first leg of our Europa League tie with Atletico Madrid, the lads should now be on either a coach or train somewhere making their long journey to Madrid after British and most of European airspace remains closed after the ash cloud continues to spread from the erupting Icelandic volcano.
I bet Eidur Gudjohnsen is in his element? He doesn't have to make an excuse not to fly for the time being. Oh wait, i forgot... Tottenham aren't in Europe are they? Hahahaha.
On a more serious note, lets just hope that the long haul travel does not take its toll on the lads for this important clash in Liverpool's season.