A PERFORMANCE to be genuinely proud of from Liverpool but a result that is fundamentally frustrating. Another game the Reds need to prepare for, another gratification deferred.
It’s the deferred gratification that hurts the most. Celebrating a goal is a fantastic thing and we haven’t been able to do it enough.
Those lads deserved their moment in front of the Kop but they just couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net. Even had it led to a West Ham equaliser, Anfield needed the explosion of a goal. The footballers needed it, too. A moment of stitch that.
Prior to the game, I wrote about the fourth round against Leeds and that was all about stitch that. Stitch that feels more and more like it is in any Liverpool side Jürgen Klopp selects.
The fight in the side was excellent. Dejan Lovren gets a fantastic yellow, and it is genuinely encouraging how much better Liverpool are getting at that.
It is a crucial part of the game, breaking the play up, stopping breaks. Joao Teixeira staying down, too. Do it and keep doing it. This isn’t Corinthian. This is football.
Most Liverpool players emerge with credit. Christian Benteke will always need to score to impress. He didn’t, so he didn’t. The equation is that straightforward for the forward. It may be unforgiving but it is writ through him like rock. No goal, no glory.
Teixeira, Cameron Brannagan and Kevin Stewart all did impress, Stewart grew into the occasion while Brannagan perhaps faded.
Teixeira is the player who has probably done his long-term chances of making it as a top-flight footballer the most good.
Against an endlessly physical midfield he was able to impose himself on the game. It may not happen for him at Anfield long term but it will somewhere and he now has another game to look forward to.
For an hour, Joe Allen was Liverpool’s most important performer but like Benteke he will go to bed rueing the lack of a winner.
His movement off the ball is exceptional, constantly finding pockets of space. In a season of a million captains it was nice to see him wear the armband after the month he has had. But again, again, again — the round thing into the rectangular thing.
Steven Caulker had a strong full debut and Lovren was solid on his return. Brad Smith looks the most likely young starter to be a Liverpool squad player in two to four years, Sheyi Ojo from the bench notwithstanding.
In short, Liverpool have another game but they have the players to get that extra game. They have the chance to do the thing they yet again haven’t done tonight.
It hurts to watch many of these Liverpool performances.
Impressive but not, never, final. Liverpool seem hell bent on having the longest season possible.
They seem hell bent on having the longest roller coaster ride imaginable. But goals and thrills and goals are spills and we can have some more of that in an ideal world.
The world is anything but ideal. We go back to Upton Park one more time. A mix-and-match kit. One more time. A win there, one more time.
We don’t stop.