This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
AUTHOR: James Pearce
Having seen his Grand National pick romp to glory at Aintree, Brendan Rodgers was treated to another gutsy show of staying power in the capital.
His Premier League title-chasers may not have romped home in the same style as 25-1 shot Pineau De Re but, crucially, they held their nerve and got over the line.
A sizeable hurdle standing between Liverpool and the prize Kopites crave more than any other was successfully cleared at Upton Park.
It wasn't convincing but the Reds dug deep to pass a major test of their mettle and leapfrog Chelsea into top spot.
Once again some searching questions were asked of Rodgers's Liverpool side and once again they came up with the answers to clinch a ninth successive league victory.
The party in the away end went on long after hapless referee Anthony Taylor had called a halt to proceedings.
They know the 19th top flight crown they have waited 24 years to toast is tantalisingly close. Just five games stand between Liverpool and the most remarkable of triumphs.
Their destiny remains in their own hands and the stage is set for a titanic tussle when Manchester City visit Anfield next Sunday.
What is guaranteed is that City will be greeted with a wall of noise Manuel Pellegrini's men will have never experienced before. Not even Sheikh Mansour's billions could buy an atmosphere like the one which awaits the title favourites.
City will be facing a Liverpool side who proved with victory over West Ham United that they boast the stomach as well as the style to last the pace.
For long periods this game was about as enjoyable as an afternoon out shopping with the mother-in-law. You know what you are getting with Sam Allardyce. And it's not pretty.
West Ham were set up to frustrate Liverpool and they succeeded as they got bodies behind the ball and challenged the visitors to break them down.
At every opportunity the Hammers unleashed an aerial bombardment in a bid to utilise the threat of battering ram Andy Carroll.
Fears that the former Anfield frontman would return to haunt his old club looked set to be realised when on the brink of half-time he somehow got away with roughing up Simon Mignolet.
Not content with planting a hand in the keeper's face he then clattered into him and knocked the ball from Mignolet's grasp.
Guy Demel fired into the net but his sheepish reaction told you everything you needed to know about its validity. The assistant immediately flagged but after a lengthy discussion Taylor bizarrely opted to overrule him and award the goal.
It was a shocking blunder which enabled the Hammers to restore parity following Steven Gerrard's opener from the penalty spot just seconds earlier.
To their immense credit, Liverpool channelled that burning sense of injustice in the right manner.
Rodgers called for calm heads during the interval and he got the reaction he wanted as the Reds served up a second-half display brimming with character and spirit.
There was a hint of good fortune about the winner as Taylor presented the Reds with a second spot-kick after Adrian was adjudged to have brought down Jon Flanagan.
The Spaniard clearly got a hand on the ball before clipping the young full-back's heels but having been on the wrong end of Taylor's incompetence earlier Liverpool gleefully accepted the gift.
Gerrard, coolness personified, dispatched the winner to move clear of Kenny Dalglish into sixth place in the club's all-time scoring list on 173.
His double capped another masterful midfield display from the skipper whose value to Liverpool is as great now as it has ever been over the past 16 years.
This was the kind of demanding afternoon when you needed leaders out there and there are none better than Gerrard, who continues to inspire those around him.
Gerrard is a man on a mission. He knows this represents the best chance he will ever have to lift the Premier League trophy and it's driving him on to greater heights.
The same goes for Martin Skrtel, who has been one of the unsung heroes of this unexpected title challenge.
A bench-warmer 12 months ago, the Slovakian is now a vital cog in Rodgers's Red machine. Skrtel was outstanding as he repeatedly sensed danger and dealt with it.
With Daniel Agger sidelined after picking up a minor knee injury in training, Mamadou Sakho was handed his first start since he limped off at Stamford Bridge in December.
Predictably, the Frenchman looked rusty at times but his physical presence came in handy dealing with the Hammers' style.
In the first half Liverpool struggled to get anywhere near the scintillating standards they had set against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield a week earlier.
There were plenty of moments of promise as they counterattacked with menace but too often the final ball was lacking and passes went astray.
Luis Suarez almost added another goal of the season contender to his collection when he latched on to Philippe Coutinho's quick throw but his audacious chip struck the bar.
The Uruguayan then turned provider for Raheem Sterling but the teenager fired tamely at Adrian.
Daniel Sturridge had a rare off day and twice he lashed high and wide when well placed.
Liverpool were crying out for inspiration and Gerrard provided it two minutes before the break. His pinpoint pass released Suarez and James Tomkins could only halt his charge by handling.
Gerrard converted but the Reds' joy quickly turned to anger when Demel's strike was somehow allowed to stand.
Rodgers' s decision to introduce Lucas Leiva for Philippe Coutinho and switch to a midfield diamond proved to be another tactical masterstroke by the manager.
An injection of steel was exactly what was required and Lucas played a leading role after the interval.
Sterling also flourished after being switched to a central position as the Reds looked more cohesive as an attacking force.
There was a scare when Carroll soared above Glen Johnson to send a header clattering against the bar but Liverpool's composure remained intact.
They got their reward with 19 minutes to go when Gerrard restored their lead. Lucas's clever pass had picked out the run of Flanagan, who was sent sprawling by Adrian.
Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling all went close to extending the Reds' advantage as West Ham finally took some risks.
It was nervy but the late onslaught was comfortably repelled. With the winning post in sight, Liverpool remain full of running.