West Ham vs. Liverpool: Post-Match Reaction from Sam Allardyce, Brendan Rodgers

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2014

Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers smiles as he takes to the touchline before his team's English Premier League soccer match against Swansea City at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super

Liverpool returned to the summit of the Premier League table with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park on Sunday.

The Reds surrendered top spot on Saturday to Chelsea, but their victory in East London saw them move one match closer to the title and take a two-point lead over their West London rivals.

England skipper Steven Gerrard was once again the hero for Brendan Rodgers' side, notching two penalties on either side of a Guy Demel strike for the hosts.

The win saw Liverpool chalk up their ninth straight Premier League victory, as the club’s official Twitter feed reported at full time:

It was yet another wonderful day at the office for Rodgers, who is on the verge of writing himself into Liverpool folklore if he can orchestrate just five more victories to give Liverpool their first top-flight title since the 1989/90 season.

Following the match, the 41-year-old spoke to BBC Sport and lauded yet another crucial victory for his side, despite not everything going his side’s his way:

There were bad decisions both for and against us. We were clearly the better team. The pitch was very dry, it wasn't watered which affects the speed of our game. That's the home team's choice.

The first one was a clear penalty. In all fairness the referee came out after the game and said he got it wrong for their goal. That was their only shot on target. We then went to a diamond which gave us control and we created a lot of chances in the second half. You are under a lot of physical pressure here.

West Ham’s lack of chances was in part due to the defensive exploits of Martin Skrtel, whom Rodgers went on to praise (via BBC Sport), in the heart of the Liverpool back line:

Andy Carroll is the best in the air in Europe. I thought Martin Skrtel was brilliant to deal with that today. It was a foul by him for the West Ham goal though, the linesman gave a foul so it was disappointing to get a goal given.

The second penalty was a penalty. Jon Flanagan touches it past the keeper, the keeper gets a slight touch on it but he then brings down Jon.

The next match in Liverpool’s season could be the biggest match at Anfield for a generation. The Reds take on Manchester City knowing that a win will give them a massive advantage in the title race, as Oliver Holt of The Mirror tweeted:

Meanwhile, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce lamented what could have been during his post-match interview with BBC Sport and said that the officials played a major part in his side’s defeat:

Unfortunately we are talking about the officials and not the game. We took the game to Liverpool whenever we could and really tested them.

There were fouls given by the referee when he was 60 yards away, the second penalty was not a penalty, Adrian plays the ball. Controversially we are talking about the referee and the effect he had on the game.

He made big mistakes in the game. He thinks Adrian hasn't played the ball and he has. He has to be 100 percent certain. He was in a bad position but gave it.

It looked like Andy Carroll fouled the goalkeeper for our goal but we got it. We don't want that, nobody wants that. My real concern is that we are talking about referees every week. We don't have enough quality referees. They try their best but something has to be done about it.

While referee Anthony Taylor may have made one or two controversial calls, it doesn’t make up for the fact that West Ham never got out of first gear.

Ten points clear of the drop zone, Allardyce’s West Ham are all but safe for another season, but their manager’s constant need to blame officials rather than address issues on the pitch will be a worry.

With some tough fixtures to come, Allardyce still needs to win over some of the Upton Park faithful to prove that he’s the right man to lead the Hammers to a brighter future, thus giving the 59-year-old no further need to play the match officials blame game.

However, there are absolutely no doubts about Rodgers’ managerial credentials, as he is now just five matches from being crowned the new king of Merseyside.