Tuesday, February 25

It's the hope I can't take…

Liverpool 3 West Ham 2

We're at the World's End for this one, with Lisa, daughter Lola and Michael The Gooner who is an honorary Iron for the night. Lola has arrived with a Tardis Box set of Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who dvds, which sits on our table as a good luck charm.

The cameras linger on the black balloons and 'This Charmless Man' banners as the WHU fans protest at the kick-off. It looks like we will be in for the predicted thrashing after nine minutes as Alexander-Arnold chases a lost ball to whip in a great cross that Wijnaldum heads home. Fabianski gets a hand to the ball but can't parry it. 

But two minutes later West Ham win a corner and the lucky Tardis works its magic. Snodgrass gets a good pace on the ball and Diop heads home as Alisson fumbles the ball on the line. There's a stunned disbelief from our table as we wait for VAR to deny us. But the goal stands. We've scored a goal! "We're gonna win the League!" chant the West Ham fans.

Liverpool put West Ham under predictable pressure. Fabianski saves well from Salah, Alexander-Arnold fires just wide and Van Dijk heads a corner against the bar. But WHU force a late corner and the half ends at 1-1. The Hammers are playing much much better than at Man City. The team are passing the ball crisply, Anderson provides an outlet even if he does often lose the ball, Soucek is strong in front of the back four, Antonio is causing problems with his pace. Ogbonna has a great game at the back and young Jeremy Ngakia is playing without fear and using his pace to get forward to good effect. 

ABSOLUTELY PAB
The second half sees Soucek go off injured to be replaced by Fornals. We will miss the bouncing Czech's workrate it seems, though suddenly the impossible happens. A very nice passing move sees Rice get in a cross and Fornals sweeps home on the half-volley. Pablo runs to the away fans to perform a salute. We're winning at Anfield. Football, bloody hell. 

For 17 minutes we dream of an incredible victory against a team that never loses. But then Salah strikes a tame shot that goes straight through Fabianski's hands and legs. You have to feel for the keeper who was so brilliant last season. It's a Roberto-esque error and you wonder if Fab is still feeling the effects of his two hip injuries.

GAME OVER, MANE
Can we hold on for 2-2? Antonio finds sub Haller who shoots straight at the keeper when he might have done better. But Liverpool are relentless going forward. A lucky deflection sees the excellent Alexander-Arnold beat Fabianski to the ball and Mane taps home his cross. 

Mane has a fourth goal correctly disallowed for offside and we wonder if we just might make it 3-3. Moyes appears to be drunk as he is throwing on attackers with Bowen added to the fray. Antonio finds the new striker with a great through ball, but a slightly heavy first touch sees him dink the ball into the chest of Alisson. In the last minutes West Ham Cresswell's free-kick results in Noble having a goalbound shot deflected wide for a corner before the final whistle blows. 

I predict that Liverpool might just win the league after this, though the plastic Liverpool fans in the pub have all scarpered at the final whistle. Michael the Thespian arrives from Time and Tide at the Park Theatre, ready to commiserate with us and discuss lyricism in theatrical performance over a Camden Pale or two. 

A cruel loss against a side that is proving invincible but a vastly improved performance. The Hammers must now play with the same intensity and purpose against Southampton. 

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