|A muted celebration from Glen...|
With no Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers did make the decision to start Jonjo Shelvey up front with Sterling and Downing supporting him. It's obviously not a natural role for Jonjo but he played in the number 9 position in the Europa League and actually did quite well.
The game started encouragingly for Liverpool who burst out the blocks intent on attack. West Ham had picked up some good results of late and we certainly couldn't afford to take them lightly. The first real chance of the game fell to Diame but it was a comfortable stop for Reina.
Glen Johnson was very lively to start with and he was beating winger Matt Jarvis with ease enabling him to either head for the byline or cut inside as he is so good at doing. Just after the 10 minute mark he did just this. After gaining enough space Johnson surprised everybody by having a pop at goal, his strike flew straight into the top left corner, an absolute peach. There was no real celebration from Glen at his old ground but there was plenty of noise from the travelling Anfield faithful.
At this stage of the game I already felt a lot happier than usual. We were far more dangerous, balls were being played out to the wings instead of in triangles and there was end product almost immediately, it was exciting but it was clear that at times throughout this 90 minutes we would be left open, something West Ham would surely take advantage of.
Just before the half hour mark the Reds had to watch Enrique leave the pitch who appeared to pick up a knock, he was replaced by another ex Hammer; Joe Cole.
Ten minutes later and West Ham had found their opportunity to level things up a penalty given for a handball by Joe Allen was perhaps a bit harsh but I wasn't going to get up in arms about it. Mark Noble coolly converted the spot kick bringing the Hammers level.
Despite the penalty Liverpool still looked pretty comfortable but more misfortune was to follow for the Reds. Matt Jarvis (who I know a lot about what with working at Molinuex) put in one of his usual searching crosses but it wasn't a West Ham player on the end of it, it was Steven Gerrard and the captain turned the ball past Reina gifting West Ham their lead.
We were down but we weren't out yet. Things would be difficult without Suarez and although chances were still flowing the finishing was looking like a bit of a problem, Jonjo Shelvey missed a few good chances and Sterling also had come close.
At 70 minutes Liverpool still hadn't found a return and Jordan Henderson was brought on as a substitute for Lucas Leiva. Shortly afterwards the Reds had found their equaliser via another Londoner; Joe Cole. It was a lovely ball through from the now 18 year old Raheem Sterling and with a cracking finish Joe Cole scored Liverpool's second, perhaps adding another reason to his case for starting more games.
With roughly 15 minutes left to go it was in the records that Liverpool had struggled to score within this section of the game this season but Joe Cole had just proved it was possible so the Reds continued to apply the pressure. Just two minutes later and Liverpool grabbed themselves a winner, albeit with a little bit of luck.
A cross in from the right by Henderson was met by what looked initially like the foot of Jonjo Shelvey, make no mistake, Jonjo Shelvey's foot was present but it was James Collins' last ditch attempt to defend that sent the ball into the back of the net. We'd done it, we'd found the winning goal, now all we had to do was hold it together.
Coates was brought on to shore up the defence and sure enough Liverpool ended the game 3-2 winners.
It wasn't ideal, of course it wasn't, nobody wants to lose their lead and then go behind through an own goal but I still find myself happier with this performance than a lot from this season. I must admit I wasn't expecting to be so pleased especially minus Suarez and ironically considering I feel Suarez offers the most attacking nous, this game actually seemed more positive. The play down the wings especially via Johnson was constant and as I mentioned there was ball retention but of the right kind in my opinion, there weren't many triangles or backward passes which in my book at this moment it time is great!
Next up for Liverpool is Aston Villa, if you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I've managed to get tickets!! Regular readers will know that due three things 1) Me being skint 2) Fixture clashes with work and 3) The difficulty of getting tickets I pretty much never get to see Liverpool play, I've been to a home match once and seen Liverpool 3 times away but this is definitely a problem I am working on so I was chuffed when I realised there were some tickets left for Villa and that I had no match to work and also had just enough of my student loan left to blow on it haha so roll on SATURDAY!