FULL-TIME: West Ham 2-3 Liverpool
That was a curious deal. First of all, it was a proper game, both sides trying to win and going about it with reasonable quality. It was unfortunate for West Ham that Liverpool's all came in the final quarter, because they looked as though they'd cruise to a comfortable win until then. But Sterling's ball for Cole and the finish that followed it was the evening's outstanding moment, so it's hard to argue with its impact on the score.
Anyway, I'll be back in a bit for the Leo Shelvey show - bye until then.
90+6 min: The ball has spent a minute or two in the right corner of the West Ham half, bodies strewn in its protection.
90+4 min: Liverpool are closing West Ham down better than at any time in the game now, and have limited them to very little since equalising.
90+2 min: Jonjo Messi steps inside Reid on the left edge of the box, then wiggles outside Noble and back inside. As he prepares to administer the finish to what's about to be a brilliant goal, Reid slides in from his left and brings him down, but is close enough to the ball to convince the referee that he won it.
90 min: There shall be five additional minutes, which seems reasonable enough - two goals (minus one celebration, of course), and a fair few changes.
88 min: Jarvis lifts a hopeful cross towards the centre of the Liverpool box, Pepe Grobbelaar dashing from his net to vault nowhere it. The ball drops favourably, though, and Liverpool break, Sterling twinkling through where one might expect to find a defence in pursuit of a through-ball, Jaaskelainen doing well to dash from his goal and slide into a clearance.
86 min: Liverpool are suddenly in control, confident enough for Downing to larrup a right-footer miles away without fear of internet reprisal. Coates then comes on for Allen, and Maiga replaces Taylor.
84 min: It'd be reductive to point to Diame's departure as the key moment in this game, but it's hard not to. Liverpool's equaliser, though a great piece of work, came from precisely the area you'd expect to find him.
83 min: Joe Cole didn't celebrate his goal, which is more reasonable than most ostentations of the genre. It turns out that Shelvey didn't get a touch on that cross, which, I suppose, makes it an own-goal.
THE FALSE NINE STRIKES! West Ham 2-3 Liverpool (Shelvey 80)
It's an hilarious old pastime, as they say. Henderson - who's improved of late, but still Henderson - floats beyond O'Brien, then snakes a low outswinger towards the near post, where Shelvey is poaching. Thrusting his legs towards it, he diverts the ball beyond Jaaskelainen with the aid of a deflection from Tomkins.
GOAL! West Ham 2-2 Liverpool (Cole 76)
Well, that was not coming, except that it came. Sterling, on the left touchline, exchanged passes with Shelvey who came to meet him on the edge of the box. Now infield, he clipped a perfect and brilliant pass that eliminated the West Ham back four from proceedings, finding Cole on the left of the box, perhaps twelve yards from goal. Cole, incredibly enough, took a touch to control, then sent a perfect and brilliant finish across Jaaskelainen and into the far corner.
75 min: Taylor flicks a cross into Cole, and he knocks down after espying Jarvis racing towards him. But the header is just a little too strong, and the ball runs through to Reina.
72 min: Pursuing a loose ball in a race with Joe Allen, Diame pulls up with twanged hamstring and departs on a stretcher, to be replaced by Tomkins. He's been easily the best players on the pitch, ruling midfield with a fist of iron - sometimes deployed in velvet glove, other times not.
70 min: Liverpool have improved the last few seconds, and manage their first proper chance of the half. It's simple stuff, so might not go down well back in the changing room, but Downing arcs a cross towards Shelvey's head like a ship finding a lighthouse. He has a freeish header, should such a thing be possible, but can only head wide. Henderson replaces Lucas.
68 min: There's some! I swear! Lucas allows a cross from the left to pass between his legs, to where Sterling is waiting, around the edge of the box and central. He connects well enough, but his shot isn't towards either corner, and Jaaskelainen makes his tip over the bar look trickier than it was.
65 min: Are imagination transplants possible? Because Liverpool need one here, moving the ball sideways well enough but without the movement to trouble West Ham. As they showed against Manchester United, they're exceptionally well-drilled - Liverpool need to find a way of getting Sterling on the ball, because his ability to run past men might compensate for the missing verve.
61 min: Carlton Cole has played well today, and he accepts possession in his own half, moving away from Agger who risks doing his innards a damage in not keeping up. He then finds Jarvis, who crosses, and Skrtel does excellently to slide in and win a tackle with Taylor waiting to tap in otherwise.
59 min: Much uproar at the suggestion that hands are generally by sides. Obviously they move while running, but they return there with every stride - and if they're around the face and the ball hits them, it's a penalty.
57 min: Game in microcosm, right there. Allen thought he was sashaying forwards after the Iberian fashion - but he was not. And as he dallied, inventing the perfect pass - Diame snidely sneaked up on him, pinched the ball by poking a leg across his stride, and set West Ham away again.
55 min: Liverpool need a striker. Pulitzer please! But they also need more in midfield, because they're being overrun at the moment. In mine, they'd be better off with Gerrard up front than Shelvey, because he's not contributing much elsewhere. In the meantime, more pressure from West Ham, and Downing is forced to toss his corporeal form into a shot from Taylor, making his way in from the right.
52 min: "What’s a hand’s ‘usual place’ in football?" wonders Stephen Davenport, without wondering at all really. "Aside from dangling from a wrist. They flap all over the shop. Just watch Aaron Lennon, for example. And you’re asking the referee to read a player’s mind yourself if you think he can judge whether in a split second a player is deliberately moving his hand towards the ball. In this instance any movement started before the ball was struck and wasn’t towards the ball per se anyway. Very harsh. In my humble opinion, as we’re supposed to say."
Hands generally reside by sides - if they're waving up in the air and the ball hits them, then that's enough to be 'deliberate' by my understanding of the law.
49 min: Nolan breaks through midfield and rolls a ball into Diame, continuing to collect a deft flick around the corner before running into too many defenders. West Ham keep up the pressure though, and look the more likely scorers.
47 min: "Sorry but don't refs regularly judge intent of players?" wonders Mike in Manila. They do to an extent, but usually it's more telegraphed with a foul than with a handball. Elsewhere, two late goals have given Everton a 2-1 win against Spurs.
46 min: It begins again, Sterling now on the right - and immediately, he flattens Diame, with a bum to the hip.
46 min: West Ham make a change, Demel off and McCartney on.
Handball debate: "I hold no candle for Liverpool," says Stephen Davenport, "but isn’t it time referees learned the law regarding deliberate handball? It’s rare that anyone deliberately handles a ball that’s been lampooned at them for a couple of yards away. And, yes, I know that’s a new – and wrong – use for the word ‘lampoon’ but it sounds right."
Depends how you understand 'deliberate' I suppose. If it means with the intention of touching the ball with your hand, then that wasn't a penalty, but if there was a deliberate movement to move the hand towards the ball, with the hand not in its usual place, then it was. I'd lean towards the latter, otherwise you're asking referees to read players minds, a sanction I'd be fearful of imposing upon anyone, even that lot.
HALF-TIME: West Ham 2-1 Liverpool
That was another very tolerable half of football - and we've seen three so far today. Well, that's Special Sunday (© M. Tyler) for you, goes a chorus throughout the land.
I'll be back shortly - but in the meantime, I'm going to ruin it, and everything else, with some this. You're welcome.
40+1 min: You wonder what Liverpool can do to change this - someone needs to sit closer to Diame, who's been responsible for the majority of West Ham's best moments. He's a great combination of rapier and broadsword, and is making it easy for Jarvis to find space out wide, where Johnson is getting very little protection.
45 min: Sterling wriggles some space on the left and crosses for Shelvey, who inepts a shot wide of the near post. That was a decent chance. There shall be three added minutes.
GOAL! GERRARD OWN GOAL! West Ham 2-1 Liverpool (Gerrard og, 43)
The free-kick is knocked left, again, and again, Jarvis delivers a ball - high, this time - and Gerrard rises like a salmon to glance past Reina. That was coming, and Liverpool will be glad of half-time.
43 min: Cole forces a foul from Skrtel as the pair challenge for a highball - ok, I'm lying it was a high ball - and West Ham press...
40 min: Diame skipthunders through Johnson and sends Jarvis away, skating by Allen on the outside. The cross comes to nothing, but the traffic is proceeding in just the sole direction at the moment.
37 min: Taylor flies into Sterling, administers an axe-kick to his midriff, and is booked.
PENALTY TO WEST HAM! GOAL TO WEST HAM! West Ham 1-1 Liverpool (Noble pen, 36)
West ham have been huffing and puffing their way towards this. Agger headed a cross clear, to Diame on the edge of the box. He spun into a clump, and Allenesta chucked his body in its general direction to smother, but could only catch it with his arm. Unfortunate, but a penalty - which Noble clipped right into the bottom-left corner - and he needed to, because Reina dived the correct way.
35 min: Taylor manages to avoid the wall, but without any kind of power, and Reina gathers. Gerrard was booked for the foul, which reminds me, so too was Shelvey a few minutes earlier. He was upset with the ref for grassing him up to himself.
33 min: Much as I'd have klibed naches were it not so, I can confirm that Enrique was injured, and the change was not tactical. From a Liverpool corner, West Ham clear, and Diame devours yards with extreme prejudice, until Gerrard razes him twenty-five yards from goal. Free-kick, just right of centre...
30 min: Turns out Brendan was trolling - Downing has gone to left-back after all, and Cole is out on the right. West Ham are creating a little more now - nothing solid, but the ball has been mixered more frequently in the last few minutes.
28 min: Jarvis administers small revenge, sidewinding past Johnson out wide and sending in a low cross, flicked/stepped-over by Nolan. For a second it looks as though something might be on for Cole, but Agger is in smartly to clear.
28 min: Change for Liverpool, Enrique off and J.Cole on. "Hook right there" he chides.
24 min: The game's taken on a pattern of sorts now, one team arranging a fruitless attack, then imitated by the other. Luckily, we can talk vegetable. Here's David French with the benefit of his expertise: "Quite low on the list on wikipedia, but it's there amongst the bulbs. not a classic like a mangel wurzel, but there you go."
Done and done.
22 min: Oniongate development care of Rupert Koopman: "The edible bits are swollen, modified leaves & stem. Unless you meant old parsnip bag, then as you were."
Ooooh vindication. Vindication, that's what you need.
22 min: Glen Johnson once played for West Ham. In other news, Trevor Brooking didn't get many with his head.
21 min: "On the one hand, it's obviously a massive worry to not have a striker," obviouslies Matt Dony. "On the other hand, West Ham have got Carlton Cole up front. I'm not sure what's worse."
I actually don't think he's that bad. That bad.
19 min: "Is an onion truly a root vegetable?" asks Fraser Thomas, and I must say I'm not sure. It was a guess, I confess. Elsewhere, West Ham muster their first attack in a while, but Agger heads the ball clear easily enough.
16 min: Glen Garrincha accepts a signature Gerrard crossfield pass, no one anywhere near him, before seeking out Jarvis to dematerialise him again. Again, he cuts inside - but Liverpool are eventually crowded out. West Ham need to do something here, because Liverpool are slicing them up.
14 min: Johnson is a rampant as a...naughty! Johnson is rampant now, leaving Jarvis behind and sliding a low cross for Sterling, unmarked in the box. Stepping into it on the half-turn, maybe ten yards out, he zips an effort wide when he ought really to have scored.
BRILLIANT GOAL! West Ham 0-1 Liverpool (Johnson 11)
Glen Johnson has ridiculous attacking ability. Anyway, he accepts possession towards the right touchline and ambles infield, Jarvis doing nothing to stop him. Arriving close to the D, he steps back outside onto his right foot, and lasers a stupidly superb effort high into the net across Jaaskelainen. Extract that one from the bag in which root vegetables are kept.
10 min: West Ham have started much the brighter here, bustling through midfield and spreading the play wide as quickly as possible. But.
8 min: West Ham earn a free-kick in the inside-left po-sition, forty or so yards from goal. With Liverpool not paying attention, Noble, nonchalant as anyone likes, rolled a smart straight one into Nolan, who had a shy that was blocked, eventually houchened away by Skrtel.
7 min: Jarvis crosses from the left, and Lucas does well to bonce away. When the ball dropped to the edge of the box, Diame muddled a shot goalwards - which showboatin' Carlton' deflected off his back, only just wide, with Reina beaten.
5 min: It's a shay-ay-ame that Carroll and Suarez didn't play together more often - there was a tellybox show in that: The Crankies.
3 min: As suggested by the earlier cross, Downing has begun on the right, with Sterling on the left. In my inexpert, that's reducing the potential impact of either, but then I don't have a friend who went to Harvard.
2 min: Downing pulls away onto the right touchline and clips back a cross for Shelvey. He controls well and feeds Gerrard, whose shot is deflected behind for the first of many ineffective corners.
1 min: Liverpool set us away, bubbles a-fluttrin like so many dainty snowflakes, meandering, floating.
False nine update: Shelvey is wearing number 33 - a cutesy hint.
Bubbles being blown. In interests of research and fairness, I attempted both that and walking alone this morning. Both were distinctly underwhelming.
Tim Smyth has an issue, the quintessential modern human man. "I've said it before," he thunders, "but calling 4-6-0 is like calling chips sautéed handcut potato batons."
As long as numbers are involved, I'm happy.
Graeme Souness reckons Jonjo Shelvey "has a bit of aggro about him." I can only imagine the naches. Like being complimented on your ability to avoid perspiration by Alastair Cook,
Thanks to Ryan Dunne, who points out an inherent problem with this afternoon's preamble. "I fear there may be an excess of imagination in your claim that MBMers can relate to the 'we've all been there' post-relationship wilderness", he chindes. Don't you, er, have to have actually had a partner first?"
You're right. I apologise to all offended by the affront.
If West Ham could adapt this for Carlton Cole - or Can't Control, as I believe he's (un)affectionately know - we'd be talking about the finest football song of all-time. Yes, even better than Guus Hiddink, we want you to stay.
BREAKING NEWS! Brendan Rodgers has taken off his tank-top. Just call me Woodstein.
I think I've given Nolan undue credit there - imagine he'll mainly loiter in the penalty area area. West Ham's team is the same as that which destroyed Chelsea last week - Diame and Taylor replace Tomkins and O'Brien in the starting eleven.
For Liverpool, Jonjo Shelvey will make history in becoming the world's first literal false nine, as Liverpool ape Craig Levein's revolutionary 4-6-0 formation, adapted by Spain and then invented yesterday by Brendan - joining passing and coaching on his list of patents. Otherwise, Downing, now a dashing, goalscoring, assisting left-winger again, replaces Suarez. That's gottae hurt.
Teams are here, subs to follow.
West Ham United (4-5-1): Jääskeläinen; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, O'Brien; Diame, Noble, Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis; Cole
Liverpool (4-3-3): Reina: Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Lucas, Allen, Gerrard; Sterling, Shelvey, Downing.
Preamble We've all been there. Slogging away through a remorseless life, when suddenly, with all the warning in the world, it becomes entirely defined by who isn't there - usually after the person in question tires of our addiction to Tetris/darts/underwear/narcissism/nasal excavation/sloth/poor personal hygiene/having friends/having appalling friends/astrobelts/self-pity/condescension/all of the above.
We've all been there. Wa girlfriends rally round, and we eat chocolate, drink white wine, cry and laugh and laugh and cry, then sing I Will Survive. Sorted. We win! We are winners!
But really, we're lying to wasevles. We depend on easy narrative to keep it all going, so we're not about to give this gift up just like that. We miss them. We cry. Everything reminds us of them: the places we saw together, the tiniest sounds, gestures and smells, the security of their anger, the mediocrity we savoured. We imagine waselves as the lead in a film, staring moodily and enigmatically into the gloaming, pellets of rain bouncing off wa heads. We aren't, we're not, we're not, it isn't, and they're not.
This afternoon, West Ham are playing Liverpool, but neither Andy Carroll nor Luis Suárez are involved. Whatever are we going to do?
Daniel will be here from 3.30pm. In the mean time check out Paul Doyle on how Sam Allardyce's eye for a player is keeping West Ham in the top half of the table:
West Ham do not look like newcomers in the Premier League. While Reading and Southampton strive to find their feet, the team promoted via the play-offs are already into a stride that suggests their aim for this season should be more than merely surviving in the top flight.
Last Saturday's swashbuckling victory against Chelsea hoisted them to eighth in the table, gave them their best start to a Premier League season since 1999-2000 and has got some supporters thinking they could qualify for continental competition. In a week in which they were named as the preferred candidates to take up residence in the Olympic Stadium, West Ham seem to be going places...