It was an ugly game that produced a great result, as a red card and two own goals left the Reds with all three points. Luis Suarez had perhaps his most wasteful match of the season, yet he still managed to find a goal for the first time in his career against West Ham. As for the Hammers, they were nothing more than a faint hope on the afternoon. Sam Allardyce's men quietly threatened Liverpool for much of the match, creating enough counter attacking chances to keep the game interesting until very late on.
Jordan Henderson produced the first goalscoring opportunity of the match by playing in Luis Suarez in the 5th minute. The Uruguayan surprisingly could not finish, losing the ball as he attempted to cut to the inside of the box. Much of the first half went like this for Suarez, who repeatedly put himself in great positions to score, yet could not convert any of his numerous chances.
Initially, Henderson was placed out wide alongside Glen Johnson, with the idea being that Hendo could cut inside and Johnson would overlap to provide the width. This changed sometime around the 20th minute when Brendan Rodgers decided to flip the wings, a move that at first seemed curious. However, Rodgers' decision proved brilliant, as it gave Sterling more freedom to move about the pitch with the cover of Johnson rather than John Flanagan.
West Ham challenged Liverpool a few times on the counter attack in the first half, with their best chance coming on a strong header which was saved well by Simon Mignolet. Kevin Nolan, the West Ham captain, was lucky to avoid a booking shortly after his team's near miss when he tripped Suarez and then pushed down Joe Allen in quick succession. His early rashness foreshadowed the straight red card he would receive later in the game.
Raheem Sterling exploded to life after switching wings, producing one of the brightest showings of his young career. The only thing lacking from his game was a goal, which he unfortunately couldn't find despite many clear cut opportunities. In the 41st minute, he sprinted past James Tomkins and latched onto a Philippe Coutinho through ball only to pull his open shot miserably wide.
The wasted chance by Sterling was quickly forgotten by Liverpool supporters however as only a minute later the Reds took a 1-0 lead on a humorous Guy Demel own goal. Demel's error resulted from a shot on goal by Suarez that was parried right into the Ivorian international's legs, deflecting into the net. It was an ugly way to take the lead considering the beautiful football being played by Liverpool up to that point.
For lack of a better word, the second half was simply strange. In the 47th minute Steven Gerrard hit a free kick to the far post where Sakho stood unmarked. Sakho proceeded to wildly flail at the ball, which miraculously made contact with some part of his upper leg and bounced towards the goal where James Collins bicycle kicked it into his own net. After much debate, the goal was credited to Sakho. Liverpool were up 2-0 on two goals that oddly came without the ball touching one of their own boots or heads.
The strangeness continued when West Ham pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 66th minute on another own goal by Martin Skrtel who has been having a bit of a rough go of it lately. That's three opposing goals off of Skrtel's body in the last two matches. This one was entirely against the run of play, as Liverpool had been knocking on the door of 3-0 for quite some time with Sterling skewing two wide open chances not long before.
West Ham nearly stunned Anfield into silence in the 72nd minute when Maiga whiffed on a potential tap in at the far post. After that miss, Liverpool turned the game into a blowout. Suarez made it 3-1, finally getting his goal on a close range header off a swerving cross from Glen Johnson.
Right after Suarez essentially sealed the deal, Kevin Nolan got himself sent off, idiotically stamping the back of Jordan Henderson's leg. It was a simple sending off for referee Michael Oliver as Henderson was dribbling away from Nolan nowhere near the goal. The challenge was completely unnecessary and reckless, and as captain, Nolan should know much better than that.
Liverpool made it 4-1 when a Suarez shot was deflected into the net by Joey O'Brien for the third own goal of the afternoon. While the goals were ugly, the overall football was flowing from Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers has to be very pleased with his side.
-Allen is starting to look a lot more confident, and had a good overall match.
-Sakho was good too and neutralized West Ham's physicality.
-Why did Sterling come off for Moses? I guess Sterling got some rest but I would have liked to see him get a chance to cap off his superb match with a goal.
-A rare Kelly appearance, who has become like a solar eclipse.
-Hopefully Gerrard's injury is nothing too serious.
-Lots of dropped points around the EPL today to perfectly compliment Liverpool's victory.