Belfast Telegraph

New boys leave Allardyce buzzing

Manager Sam Allardyce lauded an outstanding performance by his West Ham new boys following the 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat of Liverpool at Upton Park.

Goals from Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho, with an exquisite chip, in the opening seven minutes put the Hammers in front, before Raheem Sterling pulled a goal back as the hosts dominated.

Liverpool improved in the second half but, in pressing for an equaliser, were vulnerable at the back and Morgan Amalfitano struck a late third to give Allardyce reason to be optimistic for the season.

"We've got really good players we've recruited this season and that's lifted everybody else," Allardyce said.

"That performance today just shows what level and what capabilities we might be able to achieve this season.

"To score two goals in that early period really stunned the Liverpool players.

"We really took them to task. We played outstandingly well and really didn't let Liverpool play at all.

"The only disappointment was that it was 2-1 at half-time and not more.

"We had to give a more solid defensive performance in the second half when Liverpool threw caution to the wind.

"We managed to pop up with a third goal just at the right time. We deserved everything we got today."

It was the Hammers' second win of the season and just a second from six Premier League games at Upton Park as Liverpool suffered a second away loss this calendar year and two straight defeats for the first time since last December.

West Ham's previous good performances have not been rewarded with victory and Allardyce was thrilled with three points, believing his side played as well as they did in winning 3-0 at Tottenham last October.

"As good as the Tottenham performance but probably better," Allardyce added.

"It's so early on in the season and we've got so many new players.

"Our players have hit the ground running. Our players are performing very well indeed.

"We've had four out of five games that have been very, very good. It was very important not only to play well, but to win."

Sakho's strike was sublime, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers questioned whether it was a shot or a cross.

Allardyce said on Sky Sports: "It's an outstanding piece of individual ability from Sakho. I don't think anyone could take the quality of that finish away from him."

The Hammers boss has been delighted with Sakho and Enner Valencia's partnership up front.

He added: "The front two look like they've been here for a long time. The energy that they've got terrorised Liverpool's back four today."

Liverpool, who lost to Aston Villa last weekend before a last-gasp Champions League win over Ludogorets in midweek, are now six points behind leaders Chelsea in the embryonic table, having played a game more.

Rodgers said: "We were nowhere near the standard today. We made a really slow start and before we knew it we were 2-0 down.

"Lots of elements of our game have been very good as everyone's seen over the last couple of seasons.

"It's just not quite happening for us at the moment. Our performance level wasn't anywhere near what I would expect.

"The intensity of our game wasn't quite at the level."

The Reds' Champions League return was welcome, but has brought new challenges after having the sole focus of the Premier League last term.

Injuries to key players, like striker Daniel Sturridge, have also been a cause for concern, but Rodgers knows his side must bounce back swiftly, with a Merseyside derby to play next week.

"We showed our potential in the Tottenham game this season, when we have players fit," Rodgers added.

"We showed in that game the real quality and the intensity of the team.

"For ourselves, when those guys aren't available, it can hurt us.

"We still should be better than what we were today. We will, over the course of the season, get better and better.

"Liverpool, as a football club, is always a club that people want to beat, but certainly now in particular.

"We get into the Champions League and we're even more of a rival.

"We have to deal with that and it's something we will do."

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