Brown 27 og, Babel 77.
Manchester United 1
Yes, and a long time coming!
But it would be very easy to get carried away with this result. Our first win over the Mancs in the league for Rafa so Saturday must have been a red letter day for him. It’s clearly a red letter day for the fans, it’s always good to beat the Mancs and their truly delightful fans, chants of “City of Culture, you’re having a laugh” given the protagonists seemed particularly hypocritical. However, the most important thing is that Saturday gives us confidence, reassurance and hope.
Confidence because the performance was our best of the season so far. It snapped us out of the malaise that has blighted us since we started at Sunderland last month. A satisfying, morale boosting result setting us up nicely for our first Champions League game at Marseille on Tuesday and beyond.
Reassurance that we are not a two man team. Torres stayed on the bench and Gerrard only played twenty minutes suggesting that we do have more strength in depth than people give us credit for? There is also the issue that we haven’t performed well against the other three in the so called top four teams so, one down five more games to go! There is also the reassurance and optimism that things will and can get better this season.
Hope in the sense that we although people have already written us off as Championship contenders, we sit second. It’s early and it can still go pear shaped but so far so good. We might not win the Championship, and United won’t always play as badly as that, but with more results like this against so called rivals we might get closer?
The start was ominous. Understandably Rafa left Torres and Gerrard on the bench but more puzzlingly Ryan Babel. Albert Riera started. The start was more of the usual Mancs behaviour at Anfield the crowd bellowed and sang but they ploughed on obliviously and got on with the task of dominating. The goal. even though it was early, wasn’t a surprise. Poor play from the centre backs by allowing themselves to get sucked towards Berbatov and from Mascherano in not tracking back thus allowing Tevez to latch onto the Bulgarians pass unhindered.
Bubble pricked, balloons burst and hopes dashed Not quite. Slowly we worked our way back into contention and “work” was the key word. Hassling, harrying and pressing United, not giving them time on the ball and forcing them to make mistakes and even roughing them up when necessary though not to the extent of Vidic who deserved to go for his two crude challenges?
Once the equaliser, via Van der Sar and Brown’s madcap aberration, we settled and began to play more football. Mascherano made up for his error with a dominating performance. He and Alonso in the centre of midfield were impregnable and totally bossed proceedings perhaps helped by a slight imbalance in the opposition by Ferguson trying to accommodate Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez up front? Riera also made a promising debut looking lively and staying out wide.
So, we had assumed control. Had it been any other game one would have thought a second goal was inevitable however, this is United so when it did happen, via Babel’s shot into he ground from Kuyt’s cutback, there was still an element of surprise even though on the basis of our second half performance, it was thoroughly deserved.
“The fans deserved the win and so do the players after their fantastic work-rate and effort they have put in.”
True enough and a good day hell, I backed the winner of the St Leger! However, although the win should be enjoyed it’s still just three points. Three more against Stoke next week is just as important?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Benayoun (Gerrard 68), Alonso, Mascherano (Hyypia 87), Riera (Babel 71), Kuyt, Keane.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Torres, Ngog.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Rooney, Scholes (Hargreaves 66), Carrick (Giggs 46), Anderson (Nani 78), Tevez, Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Evans, O’Shea, Fletcher.