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West Ham eased their fears of being dragged into the relegation dogfight with a 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday. Sam Allardyce's side have been looking anxiously towards the bottom three for much of the season, but they are now seven points clear of the Premier League drop zone thanks to a strong fightback at Upton Park. 

Japan defender Maya Yoshida had given Southampton the lead with his first Premier League goal. Southampton hadn't loss in their previous six league matches, but goals from Matt Jarvis and Carlton Cole put West Ham ahead before half-time and Kevin Nolan's second half strike extended their unbeaten run to five matches. 

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian had gone 360 minutes without conceding, putting him in with a chance to pass Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny for the longest clean-sheet streak in the Premier League this season. He needed to go 58 minutes without conceding to set the new landmark. But Adrian's hopes of a notable achievement were dashed by the eighth minute as Southampton took the lead. The Spaniard was betrayed by poor marking from his defenders as Yoshida was granted space to rise highest and power home a Steve Davis free-kick. 

Allardyce's team responded impressively to the shock of conceding for the time in the league since January 18 against Newcastle and they drew level in the 20th minute. Hammers captain Nolan lifted the ball over the top of the static Southampton defense, releasing Jarvis to advance on goal and steer the leveler past Artur Boruc despite Southampton's appeals for offside. The visitors were still bemoaning what they felt was a poor decision to allow the goal when they conceded again. Stewart Downing's corner was met by Cole, who initially headed against a post and showed great composure to pounce on the rebound and slam in his sixth goal of the season.

Mauricio Pochettino's side almost equalized before half-time when Jack Cork whipped in a deep cross from the right and Rickie Lambert headed against the base of a post.Saints were left to curse their luck again early in the second half when referee Mark Clattenburg turned down their claim for a penalty after Hammers defender James Collins appeared to handle a high ball into the area.

Clattenburg had prompted an official complaint from Southampton in December after allegedly abusing their midfielder Adam Lallana during a match at Everton and this was the referee's first Saints game since then. But Nolan sealed the points for the hosts in the 71st minute when the midfielder volleyed home after Downing's cross was flicked on by Cole.

Also see:

Goal-line Technology Earns West Brom an Important Draw 
Terry Makes Heroic Comeback in Last Breath Chelsea Win Over Toffees 
Hull Thrash Cardiff 4-0, Leaving Relegation Zone Behind
Giroud Makes a Bracing Comeback and Gives Win to Arsenal
Toure's Winner Keeps Manchester City in the Title Race
Liverpool: Out of the Cup, Into the Title Race
Arsenal Unveils Dennis Bergkamp Statue Outside Emirates Stadium


English striker Carlton Cole has signed a new 18-month contract with West Ham United, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old returned to the team on a three-month deal in October after being released at the end of last season.

He has impressed since coming back to Upton Park, scoring four goals in 11 league games to help soften the blow of record signing Andy Carroll's absence through injury.

"Cole's impressive performances this term have been rewarded with a new deal and the striker is now set to play an important role for the Hammers during the second half of the season and beyond," read a statement on the club website.

In total, the former Chelsea striker has made 251 appearances for West Ham, scoring 63 goals.

Liverpool host West Ham on Sunday hoping to take a giant stride toward European qualification. They are seven points short of a Champions League qualification and a mere three away from appearance in the Europa league.

Ahead of the game, Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to consider Raheem Sterling for a spot in the first eleven because of the player's chronic thigh problem that is likely to keep him out of contention for several weeks. Other indisposed Liverpool players are Martin Kelly with a knee problem and Joe Allen and Fabio Borini with shoulder injuries.

West Ham will be without Andy Carroll who is on loan from Liverpool and ineligible to play against his parent club. Carroll has been in fine goal-scoring form for the Hammers and scored a brace in their 3-1 win over West Brom last week- Marouane Chamakh or Carlton Cole could replace the former Newcastle striker. Joe Cole with a hamstring injury, Mark Noble with a shoulder concern and George McCartney with a knee problem are other players likely to miss out for the visitors on Sunday. 

While Liverpool seek a win that could improve their chances of European qualification, West Ham are in search of a win that would guarantee them safety from relegation.
History is against West Ham who last won at Anfield in 1963. Also, the Hammers have had just nine goals in away matches this league season, joint-lowest with Stoke City. another dubious record that the Hammers won't be proud of is their tally of 10 losses on the road; only Reading with 13 have had a worse away showing.

Liverpool's recent record at Anfield has been brilliant with five wins in their last games at the venue. The one black spot was their 2-0 loss to West Brom. For yet another victory before their home supporters, the Reds will rely on Luis Suarez who is one of the leader contenders for the golden boot having scored 22 goals already this season.