The Reds went at West Ham from the start, got an early start and coasted the rest of the match in the main. A good, sound performance from the side got its right reward with three easy points that meant the 200th premiership has finally arrived. Two changes were made to the side with Baros replacing the benched Owen and Smicer replacing Cheyrou.
Liverpool played in their third strip of white shorts and got the game underway. Within two minutes of the start the Reds had shown the way forward. They won a free kick on the right side which Riise whipped in left footed but Heskey just failed to get his head on the ball.
On six minutes play the Reds won another free kick on the right which Riise whipped in but it was cleared for a corner on the right. Riise went to take that corner and whipped a superb corner in to the middle of the box. Milan Baros rose unmarked five yards out to power his header past a static James for the perfect start.
The Reds were two nil within a couple of minutes following on from another corner ball whipped in to the mixer. Riise again took the corner but this time it was central eight yards out when James got half a punch to it. Murphy and Di Canio both went for and missed the ball on the edge of the area. The ball rolled out to Steven Gerrard who like he hit one for England against Germany, struck the ball low past James who was unsighted and had no chance either.
The Reds were cruising and the game was only nine minutes old. West Ham didn't know what had hit them and it took them another fifteen minutes to really find any rhythm. West Ham did appeal for a penalty after eleven minutes when Henchoz, Carragher and Ferdinand all went for a ball in the area. The appeal was for hand ball but if anyone's hand touched it, it was that of Ferdinand.
The Reds came close three minutes later when Milan Baros received a ball inside of Diouf but his shot across the keeper went just past the far post. The Reds were controlling possession in the midfield and the defence were standing high up the pitch. Paulo Di Canio was being caught offside time after time.
The home side did have a chance on twenty five minutes though from a free kick on the edge of the box but Lee Bowyer failed to make Dudek even make a save. A minute later and Steven Gerrard was in like a terrier on the ball to win a tackle and ran goalwards. His shot though was saved and parried forward by James. James just managed to get a second touch on the ball though to divert the ball sidewards and force Smicer to start the move again.
West Ham finally got in to the game a little after half an hour and in fairness for a short period of time actually caused some bother in the Reds area without actually troubling Dudek. The Hammers ended up with one shot on target all day and that came in the second half. The pressure didn't last long though before Gerrard and Murphy took control of the ball again and started passing it around. With just one extra minute of time in the half the Reds ended the half in complete control.
The Reds made no changes at half time and rightly so as the side were playing well. West Ham got the game underway. Yet another Riise corner some four minutes in to the half nearly created another opening for the Reds but Hyypia's header from the corner went back past the post. So much was the Reds control that five minutes later Jamie Carragher even got excited and bounded through in to the area but his final touch was a little strong and went out for a goal kick.
West Ham were starting to battle a little more for the ball without creating anything great up front. Ten minutes in to the half however and Gerrard nearly presented them with a chance as he lost possession close to his own area. However the move wasn't capitalised on with a goal but a shot over the bar to save Dudek having to do anything. A minute later and Kanoute shot on the turn from the edge of the box but saw his shot go up and over the bar. Rufus Brevett was then brought on for Winterburn who had been playing with a broken hand.
Milan Baros who had been playing well up front was then put through on sixty two minutes but his shot from outside the box went wide of goal. The Reds did make it three though on sixty seven minutes through Emile Heskey. John Arne Riise hit another corner in to the very back where Sami Hyypia just headed it back in to the six yard box before it went out. The ball fell three yards out for Heskey to head home before James could grab any control of the ball.
Two minutes later and yet another Riise free kick nearly caused a goal. His free kick from the right side was just missed by Hyypia but as it sailed out it clipped the outside of the post. The Reds then made a few changes to the side as the game was well over. Owen replaced Baros on seventy two minutes. A minute after his entrance and West Ham really should have scored. A fast counter attack from West Ham saw the defence a bit stretched. An early ball to Di Canio would have been the best ball but it was ignored and pushed right. The ball crossed over towards Di Canio should have been cleared by Carragher, however the ball went under Carraghers foot and Di Canio steadied himself to shoot but as he did Dudek was out like a bullet to save well at his feet.
Bruno Cheyrou replaced the only poor Red on the day in Smicer on seventy nine minutes whilst Didi Hamann made a return to the side on eighty two minutes for Danny Murphy. El Hadji Diouf had a good opportunity with five minutes left to score but his shot went in to the side netting. With just two extra minutes added for all the subs and a stoppage whilst Sami Hyypia had a head wound seen to came and went as the Reds coasted through the last minutes.
Overall a really good Reds performance on the day. We went at West ham early, got the goals and effectively closed the game off from there. The Reds were never really put under great pressure on the day by a poor West Ham side who look destined for the drop. The control of the game in the midfield meant that the defence could stand higher up the pitch and the forward line had a closer feed from the middle. Hard work goes an awful long way as this proves.
MotM : Steven Gerrard - worked really hard all game and scored an excellent goal. John Arne Riise also deserves a mention here for a sound performance and for at last putting over decent corners.