It's been a testing few months at West Ham, both on and off the field.


A raft of dismal performances have plunged the Hammers into the relegation zone, while bitter behind the scenes conflict with the club's owners continue to sour relations with supporters.


To make matters worse, the manner of West Ham's defeats - and there have been plenty of them - have left little in the way of optimism, leaving an unthinkable relegation back to the Championship a very real possibility.


But for the first time since David Moyes took charge of the club for a second spell, we saw signs of life - in an admirable and courageous 3-2 defeat to ​Premier League dominators Liverpool.

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Pre-game, the Reds were expected to run away with proceedings at Anfield, like they have done so often this season. West Ham, on the other hand, had shut up shop - literally - against Manchester City just five days earlier, and a similar performance was expected in order to minimise the damage that a potential mauling would have on the club's goal difference.


Instead, we were treated to a bit of a surprise from West Ham.


Instead, ​West Ham showed real courage, fighting spirit and determination to run down every loose ball, hounding Liverpool into uncharacteristic mistakes.


The Hammers were also willing to pour forward in numbers, which was sorely missing from their abject display at City. And when they did have the ball at their feet, the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Declan Rice and even Mark Noble stroked it around nicely, keeping thing simple as play progressed up field.


In midfield, Tomáš Souček - on loan from Slavia Praha, with an option to buy - was bright and full of running until he went off injured, while Michail Antonio was his usual bustling self up front.

There was also small signs of life in Felipe Anderson, who has had an exceptionally poor season, though ball retention remains an issue for a player who arrived to such fanfare from Lazio last summer.


In defence, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna looked confident and assured in the tackle, and teenager Jeremy Ngakia - making just his second Premier League start for the club - looked like a seasoned pro against the dangerous Sadio Mane.


The only sticking point - as we so often see at West Ham - were the failure to eradicate individual errors, and this time, uncharacteristically, Lukasz Fabianski was the man responsible.


The Pole has been fantastic for West Ham since moving to the London Stadium in the summer of 2018, single handedly winning the club a number of points on a number of occasions. But when his side really needed him here, Fabianski let the Hammers down.


Not once, but twice.

Lukasz Fabianski

First, he was unable to palm Gini Wijnaldum's relatively routine header round the post, before he inexplicably allowed Mohamed Salah's tame shot to squirm through his legs to level the scores at 2-2.


That moment turned the momentum of the game on its head, and simultaneously lifted the pressure and tense atmosphere on Merseyside. Soon after, it was game, set and match, as Mane condemned West Ham to a 15th Premier League defeat of the season.


This time, though, there isn't a sense of eternal doom and gloom about the result. 


​Liverpool have won 26 out of their 27 games this season, often at a canter. This wasn't one of those occasions. This was hard-fought, this was a competitive game of football and this was one of West Ham's most spirited displays of the season.

What's important is that the players, and David Moyes, bottle up that feeling of disappointment come full time, and channel that energy into putting in a similar performance against Southampton this weekend.


Take the game by the scruff of the neck, believe in their ability to carve open chances and show the same damn fight that ran one of the best Premier League teams close.


If they do that, West Ham have a chance of beating the drop - even if the fixture list makes for particularly grim reading.


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