London - Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio both scored for a second successive
match as West Ham United leapfrogged Liverpool in the Premier League
table by beating them 2-0 on Saturday.
The pair had scored in the
2-1 victory over Southampton that ended a run of eight games without a
win and their efforts against Liverpool at Upton Park ensured that
Slaven Bilic's side started 2016 on a high.
While Bilic could draw
satisfaction from his side's display - and in particular the return of
Dimitri Payet following a seven-game absence with an ankle injury -
for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp there was only frustration that his
team were unable to build on successive single-goal victories.
Liverpool have now lost six league games this season - four since Klopp succeeded the sacked Brendan Rodgers in October.
had warned that his players would have to show grit in order to emerge
from this period with their top-four challenge intact, but their display
suggested they were feeling the effects of the festive programme.
were disjointed and unconvincing, offering only occasional threats, and
while they had opportunities to get back into the game, they lacked the
cutting edge to make more of the few chances that came their way.
side took the game to their opponents during the first half after
surviving an early scare when Jordon Ibe sent a shot across the face of
the home goal and narrowly beyond the far post.
That simply served
to spark West Ham into life and the pace of Enner Valencia and Antonio
immediately began to cause problems for Liverpool before the pair
combined to give the home side a 10th-minute lead.
given too much space on the right, allowing the West Ham forward to
deliver a deep cross to the far post, where Antonio leapt above
Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne to head past Simon Mignolet.
might have doubled the lead moments later when he out-jumped Mamadou
Sakho to meet Aaron Cresswell's left-wing cross, before Manuel Lanzini's
explosive long-range shot struck Mignolet's left-hand post.
response was unconvincing, with Christian Benteke - scorer of the
winning goal in Liverpool's last two games - unable to exploit an
opportunity after a slip by West Ham centre-back James Collins.
momentum of the game briefly shifted after a lengthy delay while
Lanzini received treatment before hobbling off in the 39th minute with
what looked to be a recurrence of the thigh injury that recently
sidelined the midfielder for a month.
Liverpool gained some
impetus after the stoppage and finished the first half in a positive
manner, with Emre Can shooting against the bar after good build-up play
from Ibe and Roberto Firmino in first-half injury time.
minutes after the restart, Philippe Coutinho's excellent pass set
Alberto Moreno free on the left and his low cross found Benteke, only
for the striker to side-foot wide.
That miss appeared even more
costly when Carroll found the net against his former club five minutes
later, rising above Clyne to direct a downward header from Mark Noble's
cross into the bottom-right corner.
It might have been worse for
Liverpool had Mignolet not produced a superb double save to deny first
Carroll and then Antonio's follow-up.
Liverpool upped the pressure
as the game wore on, but rarely looked like breaching a West Ham
defence well marshalled by Collins.