It can only be described with one word: gutwrenching. After coming back from a Glen Johnson wonder goal and taking the lead with a Mark Noble penalty West Ham lost their star man and transfer target, Momo Diame, to injury in the second half as it all fell apart with Joe Cole and Jonjo Shelvey putting the match to rest.
At the start of the match things were looking dire as Glen Johnson had his way with Matt Jarvis repeatedly, making Jarvis look absolutely amateurish. It didn’t take too long for Johnson to capitalize and strike home whilst in the midst of a number of West Ham defenders. Johnson, a former Hammer himself, showed a touch of class afterwards, refusing to celebrate one of the goals of the season.
Controversy came knocking in the 36th minute when a Guy Demel volley slammed off the arm of Joe Allen, referee Lee Probert deeming the touch intentional. Mark Noble stepped up and slotted home, Pepe Reina guessing the right direction but helpless to prevent the ball from sailing home. Cool as you like from Noble.
The goal proved to be the kickstart West Ham needed as Jarvis began to sail in cross after cross, Matt Taylor in particular coming close to nodding home. Jarvis couldn’t be stopped and took advantage of a Glen Johnson mistake, leaving Jarvis far too much room to cross, and ‘Pool captain Steven Gerrard nodded home beautifully. For the wrong team mind, but I’m sure any Hammer appreciated it all the same.
George McCartney came on for Demel at the half, West Ham continuing to press the match. Momo Diame was in sparkling form once again, winning balls and providing the creative spark he’s been so often. For much of the start of the second half a third goal looked short in coming. Then disaster struck in the 73rd minute as Diame went off with what looked like a serious injury.
Three minutes later another former Hammer, Joe Cole, equalized. Cole, just as Johnson did, refused to celebrate in front of the Upton Park faithful. Diame’s exit proved to be the turning point in the game as Liverpool bossed the rest of the game, leaving West Ham desperately trying to seek out an equalizer.
It didn’t come and West Ham played the rest of the game in disappointing fashion. When Jonjo Shelvey beat Collins to a pass played into the box by Jordan Henderson that was all she wrote.
What will worry supporters most is how the team collapsed upon Diame’s exit. We could be awhile without his presence in the middle of the park and if we look so lacking of creativity without him, not too mention the defensive assurance he provides, it could be a very long absence. James Tomkins, brought on to replace Diame, can help with ball winning responsibilities but West Ham don’t have a playmaker anywhere near the caliber of Diame on the bench.
One particularly bright note on the day was Carlton Cole. He has to read all the columnist, commentator and fan comments regarding whether or not he is a Premier League calibre striker anymore. He certainly looked it today, first to any loose balls in his vicinity and winning many an aerial challenge. He also excelled at holding the ball up and allowing midfield players to move forward and create some width. We’ll need it in the coming weeks.