It is now three away defeats in four for the Reds, who in truth, never looked remotely like getting anything from their tussle with the Hammers.
Michail Antonio and former Liverpool man Andy Carroll got the goals for the hosts, and it could have been more had it not been for some decent saves from Simon Mignolet.
Here is how the morning newspapers saw the game:
Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo bemoaned Liverpool’s lack of leaders and fighters:
It was Brendan Rodgers who spoke of “the game starting in the tunnel.”
He was referring to his decision, at Tottenham two years ago, to make Luis Suarez his captain for the day. The Uruguayan, he argued, started the game in the tunnel. His presence let opponents know they were in for a fight, it intimidated them.
What Liverpool would give for even a fraction of that presence now. Beaten at Newcastle, bullied at Watford, this was another insipid away day to add to the collection. Liverpool’s body language in the tunnel was apprehensive, and their nerves followed them onto the pitch.
Who was there to take responsibility, to try and lift the team out of its malaise? It sounds harsh, but too many looked happy to pass the buck and wait for others to bail them out. Emre Can had a go, Jordon Ibe has his moments, but who would you rely on to seize the initiative in a game like this? Even Philippe Coutinho, who has done, is struggling.
There are players missing, sure, but that’s no excuse. This squad has been assembled at significant cost, and its players have big enough reputations. They need to start earning them.
The Daily Mail‘s Matt Barlow felt the whole display was lacking, with Liverpool completely outfought from start to finish:
Liverpool were out-muscled and always vulnerable to West Ham‘s pace and penetration on the turnover of possession.
Liverpool offered nothing in the first half between an effort flashed across goal by Jordan Ibe in the opening minutes and a delicate curler from Emre Can which hit the bar in stoppage time.
It was another unconvincing performance by the Merseysiders. On their last visit to the south-east, they were two-down inside 15 minutes at Watford.
Again, they found it difficult to impose their game on muscular and hard-working opponents, who broke with purpose on the turnover of possession.
The Telegraph‘s Ben Bloom was understandably critical of yet another sluggish Benteke performance, highlighting one moment in particular:
It wasn’t as bad as his last-minute miss against Leicester on Boxing Day. Very few misses are ever going to compare to that atrocity. But there was a fairly innocuous moment 25 minutes into the match at Upton Park that pretty much summed up all the frustrations felt by Liverpool fans towards the Belgian this season.
Played in behind the defence by Firmino, Benteke thought he had all the time in the world to amble towards goal. He didn’t. James Collins was rapidly tracking back behind him and capitalised on a second touch that was both clumsy and lazy to intercept.
Given a sight of goal and with only Adrian to beat it was precisely the type of chance that someone like Sergio Aguero, Jamie Vardy or Harry Kane would bust a gut to convert. Instead Benteke barely realised it was even available.
The Echo‘s James Pearce rued Liverpool’s horrid lack of consistency:
Two promising steps forward, one alarming leap backwards. Having ended the previous year with a couple of spirited and scrappy triumphs, Liverpool kicked off 2016 with a spineless defeat in the capital.
So much for that change of mentality. So much for showing greater resilience. This was Vicarage Road revisited as West Ham were gifted their first league double over the Reds for 52 years.
Having dug deep to narrowly overcome Leicester City and Sunderland over Christmas, standards slipped across the board. Jurgen Klopp is discovering to his cost that old habits die hard as Liverpool’s infuriating inconsistency continues.
The Reds played like they had enjoyed the mother of all New Year’s Eves. On a day when they needed leaders, there were none.
Just as alarming as the lack of any real quality but the absence of either composure or fighting spirit on what’s likely to be their last ever visit to Upton Park.
The goals they conceded were shoddy. On both occasions they reacted too late to prevent crosses being slung into the box. On both occasions they got bullied by the Hammers.
Lucas (5/10) – Stood off and allowed Valencia to cross for the opening goal. Passed the ball efficiently enough and went close to scoring with a header in the second half that was cleared off the line by Mark Noble.
Coutinho (3/10) – Another frustrating away day from the infuriatingly inconsistent Brazilian. When the 30-yard shots are not finding the top corner, there’s very little else on offer from him at the moment. His shooting has become increasingly erratic, and he loses possession far too cheaply at times. Liverpool need him to find his best form quickly because nobody else has the quality to inspire this team.
Firmino (4/10) – Some nice touches here and there and some occasional good linking with teammates, most notably when he laid the ball off for Can to hit the bar, but overall he just isn’t contributing anywhere enough for a player of his reputation and £29 million transfer fee. Liverpool’s attacking play has been atrocious of late and he’s a big part of that.