Two defeats in their last two and three of their first five in the Premier League, and despite a stronger second half performance, still far more questions than answers. Going down two goals in the first seven minutes is always going to make things difficult, and combined with a toothless first half performance, they left themselves too deep a hole to climb out of.
West Ham 3: Reid 2', Sakho 7', Amalfitano 88'
Liverpool 1: Sterling 26'
A handful of surprises from Brendan Rodgers in the selection for the starting eleven; Philippe Coutinho was left out of the squad entirely, with not even a bench spot reserved for the struggling Brazilian, while Lucas and Fabio Borini both found themselves with a starting spot. Borini featured with Mario Balotelli up top and Lucas joined Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard in the midfield, with Raheem Sterling at the tip of the diamond. Martin Skrtel came straight in at the back, partnering with Dejan Lovren in central defense as Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno retained their places as fullbacks.
And hey, what do you know, Liverpool just conceded! Whoops, there's another! One goal in the first two minutes was bad enough, as Winston Reid headed past Simon Mignolet for the opener, but two in the first seven was all but a death sentence against a Liverpool side that's struggled to find the net with any sort of regularity this season. Diafra Sakho's chipped shot/cross nestled into the side netting for a two goal lead in the seventh minute, and this was probably not the best start Liverpool have had in a match.
They worked their way back into it in fits and starts--and Mamadou Sakho coming on in place of Manquillo with a switch to three at the back--but as has been the case in every match other than the Spurs win, there was no consistency to be found. Even their goal--an absolutely blistering half-volley by Raheem Sterling--came against the run of play, and proved more a product of individual skill first by Balotelli to bring it down and get a shot off, and then by Sterling to blast it past a helpless Adrian.
Liverpool's second half performance was better, with Adam Lallana introduced for Lucas and more urgency and tempo going forward. A few wasted chances saw Liverpool's threat come and go, however, and another late goal conceded after a poor clearing header by Mamadou Sakho left West Ham with two-goal advantage in the dying minutes and a comfortable--and very, very concerning--3-1 win over Liverpool.
Calling this a disappointment simply won't do. Curious team selection, resistance to dropping Steven Gerrard even for a minute or 60, more defensive errors , no midfielders midfielding, and only a few positives (Sterling's exquisite strike, the workrate and holdup play of Balotelli, Lallana's performance) to take on the day.
Only the ocean can comfort us now.