REUTERS - Liverpool went top of the Premier League on Monday but missed the chance to open a three-point lead when they were held 0-0 at home by West Ham United.
After Chelsea were stunned at home by Arsenal on Sunday, the stage was set for Rafael Benitez's side to seize the initiative in the title race but they produced a subdued display and ended frustrated against a resolute West Ham side.
A draw was enough to move Liverpool one point clear but they almost fluffed their lines completely with former striker Craig Bellamy going closest to breaking the deadlock with a thumping shot against the inside of the post in the first half.
Liverpool, held 0-0 by Fulham in their previous league game at home, have 34 points from 15 games with Chelsea on 33. Champions Manchester United have 28 with a game in hand.
West Ham have not won at Anfield in the league since 1963 and were content to sit back and defend in depth throughout the first half.
The home side could not find any passing rhythm and their best chances came from corners and set pieces with defender Sami Hyypia twice going close with headers.
Steven Gerrard was bogged down in midfield but did find space to slash a shot into the side-netting.
West Ham's one counter-attack before halftime almost ended in a goal when Bellamy surged into the Liverpool half and unleashed a shot which beat Pepe Reina but rebounded off the inside of the post.
The second half produced more in the way of goalmouth action as Liverpool swarmed forward.
Yossi Benayoun produced the save of the night from West Ham keeper Robert Green with a rising shot from an acute angle.
Carlton Cole wasted a good opportunity for West Ham when he headed wide while Green reacted well in the closing minutes to deny Dirk Kuyt after a superb pass from Gerrard picked out the Dutchman in the area.
The final whistle was met with some mild booing by the disgruntled home fans as they realised their side had blown a great chance to move three points clear.