West Ham United hangs three on Fulham (video)

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  • Babel strikes in third minute for visitors
  • Chicharito scores handball goal
  • Diop nods home to complete Irons’ comeback

West Ham United overcame an early stumble to punish Fulham’s weak defending with a 3-1 defeat at the London Stadium on Friday.

The London Derby win pushes the Irons ninth with 34 points, six behind seventh place Watford. Fulham remains 19th with 18 points.

Ryan Babel scored for Fulham, while Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Issa Diop, and Michail Antonio were West Ham’s scorers.

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Denis Odoi and Ryan Sessegnon worked down the left to help Fulham to its surprising opener, cueing up a left-footed cross from the latter that Babel darted into the six to slash behind Lukasz Fabianski.

The lead lasted 26 minutes, but it would’ve lasted longer had the referee spotted Hernandez’s hand slapping the ball into the goal after his head nodded at the orb. Shockingly, no Fulham player protested, and it was 1-1.

West Ham went ahead 11 minutes later, Diop waltzing into the area to nod Robert Snodgrass‘ corner kick inside the near post.

Manuel Lanzini entered the game late, getting a fine cheer en route to his long-anticipated return from injury.

Sergio Rico made a fine one-handed stop on Marko Arnautovic to stymy a late second-half bid to insure West Ham’s lead.

As Fulham rarely looked prepared to pot an equalizer, perhaps it was fitting that West Ham got a third with a dominant sequence in stoppage time. Antonio was the finisher after Arnautovic and Lanzini made themselves menaces on the right of the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Three things we learned: West Ham v. Liverpool

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LONDON — Liverpool dropped two more points in the Premier League title race, as they drew 1-1 at West Ham United.

Pressure does strange things to teams at this part of the season.

Monday’s trip to the London Stadium offered Jurgen Klopp‘s men the chance to open up a five-point gap atop the table, but a spirited Hammers side cancelled out Sadio Mane‘s controversial opener as Michail Antonio grabbed them a well-earned point. And West Ham could’ve easily won the game had they taken their chances.

With Liverpool now drawing to both Leicester and West Ham in their last two games, Manchester City can jump top of the table with a win at Everton on Wednesday and put the pressure back on the Reds.

Here’s a look at what we learned from the London Stadium, as the title race is well and truly on.


LIVERPOOL SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH A DRAW

In the first half West Ham should have been at least 3-0 up. Liverpool were all over the place from defensive set piece situations, holding a high line for no apparent reason. Antonio scored from one situation. Declan Rice somehow nodded wide from another and both Aaron Cresswell and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez drilled just wide from counters which stretched Liverpool’s defense easily. It was as if Liverpool’s defenders were keen to keep their high-line no matter what, and in the second half they were lucky both Felipe Anderson and Mark Noble lost their cool in the penalty box when big chances arrived. Liverpool had chances themselves, as they always do, but this was far from a game where they played well and had to settle for a draw against a stubborn West Ham side. Klopp’s men got away with one by not losing at West Ham and now they are just three points ahead of Man City atop the Premier League table, and must expect City to beat Everton on Wednesday and slip to second place, albeit with a game in hand. Injuries are impacting Liverpool, but Klopp’s men are showing signs that they are cracking under the pressure. The nervous tension emanating from Liverpool’s fanbase is seeping into the previously carefree players. The 29-year wait for a league title is weighing heavy on everyone connected with Liverpool right now.


WEST HAM COUNTER TO PERFECTION

Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Liverpool have all failed to win at the London Stadium and for Pellegrini this was a perfect response after three-straight defeats for the Hammers in embarrassing fashion. Like Leicester City, the Hammers are one of those teams outside of the top six who frighten the life out of the big boys. When they aren’t forced to possess the ball, create chances and take the games to opponents, that is when they are at their best. Sure, Manuel Pellegrini has brought a certain panache and control to their game since arriving in the summer, but the fact that both Marko Arnautovic and Samir Nasri were missing through injury did them a favor. Anderson, Antonio and Chicharito pounced when they could on the counter and the pace of full backs Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks was helpful in supporting attacks and stopping Mane and Salah from running riot. In truth, West Ham’s wasteful finishing let Liverpool off the hook. Yes, West Ham’s fans want them to be more attractive to watch but when they counter this well, it’s hard to see them not deploying these kind of tactics on a regular basis against the big boys. They lost their impetus when Andy Carroll came on late in the game and that proved what direction the Hammers must move in going forward. They have the squad to hurt teams on the counter and must realize, and play to, their strengths.


INJURIES MOUNT UP FOR KLOPP

The news that Joe Gomez now requires surgery on a fractured leg was bad enough for Liverpool fans to wake up to Monday, but when Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren and particularly Georginio Wijnaldum missed the game at West Ham due to injury, the alarm bells were ringing. A midfield trio of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Adam Lallana should have had enough quality to wrestle control of this game but Mark Noble, Robert Snodgrass and Declan Rice won that battle rather easily. Joel Matip appears to frighten the life out of his fellow defenders when he plays and even the usually placid Virgil Van Dijk was caught out as Liverpool’s undoubted defensive leader failed to settle things down. James Milner, playing at right back, was targeted throughout and both Snodgrass and Anderson had a field day drifting out to his flank. Liverpool’s squad is not quite large enough to deal with injuries to five key players, as Milner and Henderson at right back in recent games has shown. Letting Nathaniel Clyne leave on loan in the January window and not adding another defender as back up could be the difference for them in this title race.

Watch Live: West Ham v. Liverpool

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West Ham United host Liverpool on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), with the Hammers aiming to put a large dent in Liverpool’s title hopes.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Jurgen Klopp‘s side sit two points clear atop the table heading into this clash, but Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham have caused upsets this season by beating Man United and Arsenal at home.

In team news West Ham are without Marko Arnautovic who hasn’t recovered from injury. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez starts for the Hammers.

Liverpool are missing Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren and Georginio Wijnaldum through injury, while James Milner returns and captains the team.


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Premier League preview: West Ham v. Liverpool

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The Reds look to keep pace with Manchester City and Tottenham as they travel to the Olympic Stadium to take on West Ham United on Monday at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE

Liverpool is facing a defensive crisis with Dejan Lovren‘s hamstring still acting up, Trent Alexander-Arnold remains sidelined with a knee injury, and Joe Gomez‘s fractured leg not healing properly. That left midfielder Jordan Henderson forced to deputize at right-back last time out in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, but James Milner returns from his red card suspension to take over that role.

Jurgen Klopp has the Reds at the top of the Premier League table, but Man City’s victory over Arsenal on Sunday leaves them with just a two-point lead, needing points against the Hammers to restore the lead to a more significant cushion.

West Ham could have Marko Arnautovic ready to play despite a foot injury forcing him off against Wolves last time out. That would be a big boost for the Hammers who sit 12th in the table, a solid nine points above the relegation zone but also seven points behind the European places. Samir Nasri only made it two appearances before picking up an injury of his own, still out with calf problems that forced him out of the loss to Wolves last time out.

The Hammers have dropped their last two Premier League matches and four of their last seven, a trend they’ll want to reverse sooner rather than later given the difficult end-of-season fixture list.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini on January transfer window: “The transfer window brought a lot of damage to this club. The focus went away from the team, and I’m not just talking about ​Marko Arnautovic, there were others considering leaving.”

Klopp on pressure of leading the league: “Yes, there is pressure. There was pressure last year, a lot of pressure when we played Man City away in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and we dealt with it. There was pressure at Rome, there was pressure in so many moments in the Premier League. We had to win each game because Chelsea were constantly chasing us. That is the only way we can do it.”

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Prediction

West Ham’s poor form is not the way they’d like to enter the game against a Liverpool team earning results despite injury troubles. Those defensive woes will leave Liverpool vulnerable, and West Ham should find joy through Arnautovic, but ultimately Liverpool will prove too dynamic in a 3-1 victory.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 24 + Deadline Day

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ProSoccerTalk’s Club Power Rankings are meant to reflect both a club’s status in the table but also their form in relation to what lies ahead.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

So it stands to reasons we should see some shake-ups following Week 24, which was followed by the end of the January transfer window on Thursday.


20. Huddersfield Town — Basically as hopeless as it gets. Jan Siewert is building to lead this team back to the Premier League, not keep them in it.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Cardiff City — It seems cruel to slight a side given their record signing Emiliano Sala’s flight disappearing at sea late in the transfer window, but the Bluebirds will only be a sentimental man’s hopeful in the fight for avoid relegation.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

18. Fulham — Havard Nordtveit will help the back line, but they needed much more aid in defense. Ryan Babel looks lively enough to give some hope to the team and freedom to Aleksandar Mitrovic. Can Lazar Markovic quickly find form after not making meaningful minutes since May at Anderlecht?
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

17. Burnley — The performances have improved and the Peter Crouch for Sam Vokes swap makes sense — Vokes wanted regular time, Crouch a return to the PL — but the Clarets added nothing else. That’s playing with fire.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl has proven himself adept at managing Saints’ talent, but the lack of January additions accompanying a number of veteran departures may hurt “Ralphampton.”
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Newcastle United — Beating Man City and signing both Miguel Almiron and a potential upgrade on Paul Dummett was enough to pull the Magpies even higher, but then Everton held onto Idrissa Gana Gueye and Palace landed Michy Batshuayi on loan. Now what’s fair to expect from Almiron?
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

14. Everton — Holding onto Gana keeps Marco Silva‘s men just ahead of a slide down our rankings. In fact, they move up a spot thanks to Saints’ disappointment in the market and versus Palace.
Last week: 15
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

13. Brighton and Hove Albion — The loss at Fulham was bad, and the Seagulls failed to show January ambition to meet their Top Seven potential. Maybe that’s a reflection of the true expectations on the roster, but Chris Hughton probably wanted a bit more. That said, a return to health for Alireza Jahanbakhsh could be the elixir needed if he finds his attacking form and some Premier League comfort.
Last week: 12
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

12. Crystal Palace — How impactful might the addition of Michy Batshuayi be to the Palace strike corps? It will allow Roy Hodgson to both use him in isolation but also running off of Christian Benteke if the fellow Belgian finds his form. Even if Batshuayi doesn’t discover the form he had on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season, he should rejuvenated at home in London (and his wingers are a bit more like the BVB fellas than the ones Valencia proffered him).
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

11. West Ham United — Can Marko Arnautovic re-earn his teammates’ trust now that he’s staying at the London Stadium? Because the club’s performance against Wolves was… not good.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

10. Leicester City — A well-earned point against Liverpool, even if the Foxes should’ve probably been done one via penalty. Youri Tielemans is the right kind of risk, on loan no less, for the window and Leicester’s needs. Claude Puel might just hand Tielemans his mojo back.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

9. Bournemouth — Beating Hammering Chelsea to end a transfer window which included adding Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool — again, why, Jurgen? — and holding onto Callum Wilson is reason enough to celebrate: The Cherries have finally beaten one of the big boys this season.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

8. Watford — Falling apart late at Spurs wasn’t ideal, especially given Tottenham’s injuries. Keeping Abdoulaye Doucoure is very much ideal.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. Wolves — Probably not chasing down Manchester United, Chelsea, or Arsenal, but in clear pole position to finish seventh and dance from the Championship into the Europa League.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

6. Chelsea — Put us in the camp backing Maurizio Sarri over his crew of three-manager quitters, but that won’t drag him back into his players’ good graces. Look for Gonzalo Higuain to pay dividends soon.
Last week: 6
Season high: 1
Season low: 6

5. Arsenal — Denis Suarez was a nice get, especially if Unai Emery can re-inspire the Spaniard back to his Sevilla and Villarreal best. That said, the defense is playing with fire.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Manchester United — The fightback to draw Burnley was nice, but we knew United had that in them. It will be very intriguing to see if the Red Devils have a Champions League run in them with Neymar missing for PSG, but are you expecting them to handle Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani at the same time? Anthony Martial re-signing was a solid move on the final day of the window, but do they have enough cover at center back?
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Man City — We still expect City to rise above Spurs and keep second place on lock, but the loss to Newcastle was their fourth in nine PL outings. And adding a center midfielder in addition to Fernandinho would’ve given them depth and a jumpstart on next season’s title run.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

2. Tottenham Hotspur — Would’ve been nice to see another Lucas Moura-like signing this month. Breaking down Watford for a comeback win amongst a forgiving run of fixtures gives hope to a Top Three finish.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

1. Liverpool — The Reds will have to choke even worse than their last title effort to lose the title given their fixture list, but Jurgen Klopp did his side no favors in loaning Nathaniel Clyne (and not starting Fabinho against Leicester City. How does he remain unconvinced by the ex-Monaco man?).
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4