Headers from Michail Antonio and Anfield old boy Andy Carroll were sufficient to remind Liverpool that they will have to do much better if they wish to realise their European ambitions. Much better indeed.
Jürgen Klopp sprang a surprise by leaving Adam Lallana on the bench, giving a start to Jordan Ibe. Many Liverpool supporters would have disagreed as Lallana is marginally the best of a bad bunch in attacking midfield right now for Liverpool. Both Philippe Coutinho and the erratic Roberto Firmino have been arguably the weakest links for the Reds in recent performances.
The fact that the hosts took the lead after 10 minutes just about sums this Liverpool side up. While Alberto Moreno was feigning injury for not getting an admittedly deserved free kick, the Hammers' Enner Valencia surged forward to feed a delightful early centre for Antonio to head home with the ineffective Nathaniel Clyne failing to nullify the attempt. Liverpool responded as one would expect pushing forward in search of an equaliser.
Needless to say, this didn't happen and after 33 minutes, the visitors still hadn't troubled Adrián in the West Ham goal. Benteke cut a rather ineffective figure as the lone striker. Made glaringly so by the lack of any decent service to him. Up to this point in the game the only Liverpool player to pose any kind of threat to the host back line was Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard's cross on 34 minutes was knocked on by Benteke for Firmino, only for the Brazilian to show the weakest of weak efforts in trying to poke the ball toward goal.
When the visitors did put together a half decent move a couple of minutes later Firmino was again found wanting and wasted the chance. Slack defending from Sakho gave Aaron Cresswell the chance to shoot but Simon Mignolet, Liverpool's saviour on the day was able to palm the ball away past his right-hand upright. Half time loomed and West Ham took the option to sit back and allow Klopp's men to attack. Perhaps knowing it would likely come to nothing.
In the second half Liverpool dominated possession for the first 10 minutes and Moreno's smart pullback to Benteke on 50 minutes was wasted by the Belgian. Four minutes later, the inevitable happened and West Hamm extended their lead, demonstrating to Klopp exactly how a target man should be utilised. Another expert delivery into the Reds' box signalled more calamitous defending as the well stocked Liverpool defence was caught out by Carroll rising (again) above Clyne to head home.
I struggle to see how it was that for both goals, Clyne was the only defender challenging the opposition attacker. Where was Mamadou Sakho? Where was Dejan Lovren? Answers on a postcard please! Klopp responded by bringing on Lallana for the useless Firmino and young Brad Smith, inexplicably for the productive Moreno who was the only decent provider of attacking intent during the game. One out of two ain't bad I suppose.
Shortly after, the Liverpool rearguard was breached a further time. This time, Mignolet was on hand to spare the team further embarrassment with a fantastic double save. First to deny Carroll and then Antonio as the hosts looked to capitalise on Liverpool's poor attacking play with some smart counter-attacking of their own. Lucas Leiva had a header cleared off the line by the ever impressive West Ham captain Mark Noble. Joe Allen also had a headed chance that was tamely directed the wrong side of Adrian's left upright.
Klopp was rightly angered by the performance. "It's not a day for being disappointed. It's a day for being angry." Fair enough. He went on "...We have to accept again, that we didn't play as we could". Liverpool now languish in ninth place in the Premier League, five points off the targeted fourth place. Frankly, I don't see any chance for Liverpool now. Perhaps a Europa League place and even that would be flattering on this performance.
From my perspective, these players need to take a long hard look at themselves. But then, after how many performances have I said that about this team? Too many, to be brutally honest. The only conclusion I can come to is that this shower simply aren't good enough. It should be noted also that much, much credit should go to Slaven Bilic. Again he proves his tactical nous against Liverpool.
The January transfer window is now open and if at all possible, Klopp will be looking for some reinforcements for this sorry lot - With a commanding defender a priority. The German has claimed on many occasion that he does need to bolster his squad. On the basis of what I saw this afternoon, I only hope he's bluffing.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @MrBengreen
Follow Ben on Twitter @MrBengreen
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