It’s easy to lose perspective when the winning streak you’ve been riding since the end of August ends abruptly with Liverpool losing out to AFC Bournemouth and having to fight back share the spoils with West Ham United, but it’s time for a deep break — not panic stations.
Within five minutes Adam Lallana was on the score-sheet when he expertly controlled Sadio Mane’s cross with one foot only to lash home on the half-volley with the other, but Dimitri Payet’s free-kick restored parity just over 20-minutes later and Michail Antonio sent the Hammers in to the lead just before the break as the visitors ramped up the pressure on Reds ‘keeper Loris Karius with the media narrative adjudging the German to be culpable for both.
Hammers shot-stopper Darren Randolph deflected some of the attention from his Liverpool counterpart with a miscue of his own as Divock Origi poked home the equalizer, but a spectacular save from an equally exquisite strike from Jordan Henderson made sure the error wouldn’t live long in the memory as the Republic of Ireland international secured the point that ensured the East London outfit crawled out of the relegation zone.
“I think we just have to cool down, evaluate the game. We let them come into the game and get the lead. Maybe our push was too late, but we gave everything. Next time we have to work harder and make the luck on ourselves,” said Origi, who despite scoring his fourth in as many outings, had a rather subdued 90-minutes. “When you let a team lead it’s always difficult. They scored a second goal, it’s tough and I think we just have to stay focused. We got a point and next time must get three,” continued the Belgian. “I have to be patient and on your day score as a striker. I have to keep making steps, as a team we need to regain the level we are on,” added the 20-year old. “We need to use this period to come back stronger.”
Far from outstanding, the visitors rarely looked like threatening, but they capitalized on their chances and restricted ours with Winston Reid and captain Mark Noble turning out notable performances. Really, what more did they need to do? Thinking back to when we obliterated Watford FC, all of the talk was around this “winnable” run of matches we had leading in to the derby and the meeting with Manchester City — some of the most laughable nonsense I’ve heard in quite some time. Discounting any Premier League team is a dangerous game; we saw it last weekend with the Cherries coming back from 3-1 down and West Ham manager Slaven Bilic pounded the point home today.
Like I said, it’s easy to lose perspective and it’s even easier to start scapegoating; I’ll hopefully have time to discuss the whole Karius question a bit later in the week, but the one thing that’s for sure is that we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of football to play. With that in mind, we’re six points off the top with Christmas in sight. We may have hit a rough patch, but this bit ain’t done yet. Not by a long shot…