Sam reflects on Liverpool defeat

Sam Allardyce gives his reaction to Saturday's 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Liverpool

Sam Allardyce said injuries, absences, missed opportunities and conceding just after half-time were the major factors in West Ham United's 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Liverpool.

The Hammers started well at Anfield, going toe to toe with Brendan Rodgers' side in the opening 45 minutes, only to fall behind to Raheem Sterling's goal six minutes after half-time.

West Ham then lost James Collins and Andy Carroll to hamstring and knee injuries - adding to the absences of Cheikhou Kouyate, Diafra Sakho, James Tomkins and Carl Jenkinson - before the returning Daniel Sturridge drilled in the Reds' second with ten minutes remaining.

There was still time for Winston Reid to be forced off with a hamstring problem before Joey O'Brien's late header was ruled out for a foul on home goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

"Too many players ended up with injuries, particularly at centre-half, and because of that we lost this game," the manager began. "In all fairness to Ginge, because of the injuries we had in defence [in the build-up] he tried to come in and get through this game himself, but his hamstring injury had obviously re-occurred by half-time.

"Because we had problems in central defence, we ended up a 16-year-old Reece Oxford on the bench. While Joey O'Brien and Guy Demel might do a job in there, we could have thrown Reece on there, but we had Winston Reid and Andy Carroll injured as well and James Tomkins, Carl Jenkinson and Cheik Kouyate missing so went with the experience.

"Those three coming off has thrown us into a major crisis at the minute injury-wise and you can't expect to come to a place like Liverpool and win when those things go against you.

"As much as we did in the first half and as good as opportunities that we created, we couldn't find the sort of clinical finish we have found so often recently. It's been a long time since we haven't scored a goal. We had several opportunities in that opening half-hour to get one but we didn't convert them.

"Finally, because of the injury problems we had, they scored. I can't criticise the lads for the effort they put in, because circumstances beyond our control have not allowed us to get anything out of this game."

Big Sam opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation at Anfield, where West Ham remain winless in 45 matches dating back to September 1963, and explained the thinking behind the system.

In the opening half, the approach saw the visitors stretch Liverpool's three-man defence across the pitch, creating space down both channels to get balls into the box.

However, once the injury-hit Hammers went behind to Sterling's well-taken finish from Coutinho's clever pass, they struggled to put the home side under similar pressure in the second half.

"The thinking was that we do exactly what we did in the first 30 minutes, which was to have Morgan Amalfitano and Enner Valencia get in those spaces behind those wing-backs and drag those centre-halves out," the manager explained.

"The only problem we had was our players not playing in there more often and with the same sort of quality they showed in the first 15 or 20 minutes. It was a massive problem for Liverpool with Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho running out to chase Enner and Morgan into the wide areas.

"When the back-up comes from the full-backs or Stewart Downing then you win corners and get balls into their box. We had seven or eight corners and finally scored in the end with one, but it would have been too late and the referee disallowed it for whatever reason.

"It worked well at the start but because of the problems we had in the second half, we stopped doing that and stopped being as effective by playing down the sides of that back three. Liverpool do a high press and when you give the ball away willy-nilly, you struggle.

"In some ways, we shot ourselves in the foot by trying to play through the midfield too much when we had set out tactically to play a certain way and it worked so well for us in the first half.

"In the end, I think the injuries really told on us and we never got anything out of the game. It looks like they beat us easily, but by half-time they were struggling and we were finding it very easy to cope with them.

"We ended up with ten men and it was a real kick in the lower regions for us. The problem now is how we cope going forward from here. This is our first real injury crisis of the season and we really need to get over it as quickly as we can, particularly with the FA Cup game and Manchester United next week.

"We'll re-assess the lads during the week and see how many of them can get fit and hopefully there won't be a considerable number of players missing. Hopefully, in the next two weeks we'll get the majority back and we'll go again."

With the transfer window closing at 11pm on Monday evening, Big Sam was also asked in his Sky Sports post-match interview about the prospect of bringing in reinforcements to bolster his squad.

The manager admitted a move for Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is unlikely to materialise: "It doesn't look like it [is going ahead], no. It looks like it's broken down on negotiations."

Big Sam was also asked by Sky Sports about the absence of Sakho from Saturday's squad, to which his response was: "With Sakho it is down to the situation we are in with FIFA. While it is happening it is not conducive for us to be putting him on the field until it is resolved, sadly. If you speak to the lad you would know how angry and disappointed he is at being denied the opportunity to play football when it is not our fault.

"We have covered all the rules and regulations but at this moment in time it is sensible to do the right thing and not get involved any more - that is what I was told yesterday."