Liverpool’s faltering top-six hopes suffered another blow as they failed to break down West Ham’s stubborn defences.
Three weeks after a dismal defeat at Southampton, Brendan Rodgers’ side once again failed to spark, skipper Steven Gerrard coming closest to a winner when his effort was cleared off the line by the outstanding James Tomkins.
But the Hammers, for whom James Collins was equally impressive, also had a claim on the spoils, with Lucas Leiva denying them a first Anfield win in 50 years when he turned away Jack Collison’s header five minutes from time.
The contest was preceded by an impeccably observed minute’s silence in honour of the Hillsborough victims. Yet, for all the memories of those 96 lives so horrifically lost in South Yorkshire, Liverpool must also deal with the present, which means somehow clambering back towards the heights the club scaled so often back then. A rather complicated scenario for European qualification is unfolding, in which finishing sixth in the Barclays Premier League might be enough.
It is not one Liverpool can rely on though, which means an all-out assault on the top five. To that end, a home encounter with a side who had not scored at Anfield since 2006 and have to go back half a century for their last win should have been perfect.
Except this was one of those days Rodgers must have been referring to when he outlined in his programme notes that “from outset of this campaign, I felt it would most likely be a season of transition and there would come a few growing pains”.