West Ham have to be delighted by today’s goalless draw with Liverpool, which edges them closer to safety.
But for Brendan Rodgers’s side this was two points dropped after dominating possession and the chance count, and a virtually decisive blow in their already supermodel-slim hopes of a top-five finish.
The match lost a little spice when former Anfield irrelevance Joe Cole (Roy Hodgson’s first Liverpool signing, indeed, in more optimistic times) was ruled out with a hamstring injury. And Kenny Dalglish’s $50m folly, Andy Carroll, was ineligible as part of the terms of his loan from Liverpool to West Ham.
Without the in-form Carroll, West Ham were never likely to pose enough of a threat to beat Liverpool at Anfield. But then, that’s a sentiment that history suggests would have been valid even if the Hammers had fielded Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi alongside the former Newcastle man.
The last time West Ham won on the red side of Merseyside was 1963 – a mere 40 league visits ago.
And while Sam Allardyce is a fine manager with a track record of success, he’s not a guy you’d back to mastermind a stunning away win. Or indeed, any away win. West Ham’s current mid-table coziness on their first season back in the Premier League has been built on their home form, because ten road defeats and nine goals scored in 16 matches sure ain’t getting it done. Still, at least Big Sam ended his personal Anfield losing streak at eight successive trips.
Infinitely more important than what followed, the teams marked the forthcoming 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster with a minute’s silence before kick-off.