FA Cup 4th Round
Agger (21), Kuyt (88)
Manchester United 1
Park Ji-sung (39)l
So here we go, a seething caldron of hatred which could spark, well, nothing really. The Mancs fans had a go at us and we had a go at them, it was a bit out of order at times but in a few days (probably less in fact) the nation will talking about something else.
The Mancs will go back to Old Trafford to concentrate on trying to win the league and the UEFA Cup and we’ll do our thing. We’ll cross swords again a few weeks time when we meet in the league and all the hatred will happen again and that will be it until the next time. Life moves on, I don’t think race relations, or indeed the fate of the nation, will have changed too much – take note media!
Once the whistle went for the start the game both managers were probably relieved to concentrate on the football rather than all the stuff that has surrounded this game despite trying to play down all the pre match hype it is sad that a few fans, on both sides, saw fit to cheaply widen the net.
As it was we triumphed today in what many, Fergie included if his post match interview is anything to go buy, regarded as an injustice. The Mancs should have won said Fergie others said a draw would have been a more appropriate result. Great, so that’s what makes a Liverpool win even better! Leaving aside the “*issed off” contingent this was a game where The Mancs had plenty of possession however, ironically it was at Anfield where they failed to make the most of these opportunities. Sound familiar?
As expected Kenny made some changes from Wednesday bringing in Carragher, Kelly, Maxi and Carroll for Johnson, Adam, Kuyt and Bellamy. Five defenders suggested a back five, it’s not for the first time he’s employed this line up and the outcome has been varied, however in reality it was more of back four with Carragher sitting in front? It bought back memories of Kenny’s first spell when he wasn’t afraid to be pragmatic and field players “out of position” it worked sometimes and other times it was a disaster, I guess the result today suggested the former although significantly we made our mark after Carragher had come off and the goal scorer (Kuyt) had been introduced, nonetheless full marks for trying to change something… it worked!
The start of game saw both sides exchanging chances. We were first with Maxi, causing De Gea to stretch and tip it out for a corner, and then The Mancs, a few minutes later, from Giggs. The first real “heart wobble” effort was from Valencia who hit Reina’s right hand post thanks to a poor tackle from Maxi and the defence inexplicably backing off him. However first blood was to us.
Earlier on we had made a point of standing in front of De Gea, arguably The Mancs’ weak spot, to put him off for corners. Carroll was one of the main protagonists blindly standing in front of the Mancs keeper like one of those ignorant tossers who refuses to move down the train, sorry if you don’t know what I mean, it’s a London thing! This irked the keeper who was clearly not of the same metal as say Schmeichel who would have barged Carroll and the rest of the Liverpool attack out of the way to get to the ball, so we did it again at the next corner! This resulted in Agger rising from the throng to head home, easy and thank you very much! The question is would Rafa or Houllier or even Hodgson have had the nous of foresight employ the same tactic? It was an initiative that had Dalglish’s nous and “cannyism” (sorry, I don’t think that’s a word) written all over it?
After the goal rather than force ourselves forward we allowed the Mancs to control things almost as if, having got the lead, we were content to sit on it. The Mancs probed and probed our defences, keeping the ball, looking for an opening perhaps trying to draw any sting the goal created. Eventually the initiative materialised into something tangible. Valencia sent Rafael free who rounded Enrique. The Spaniard then chose to shadow from a distance rather than close him down allowing him to find Park who rammed it home first time giving no one a chance to tackle him. It is harsh to single out Enrique for the goal given the way he has performed this season however, he committed the cardinal defender’s sin of not playing percentages. Rather sliding in and conceding a throw he opted to try and do something else that only he will be able to explain. His reaction immediately after Park struck said it all.
In the second half we were better showing more purpose and not allowing the Mancs as much possession, There was a penalty appeal as the ball appeared to hit Smallings’ hand following a tussle with Andy Carroll however, nothing given which cancelled the Mancs appeal against Agger in the first half. Soon after Danny Welbeck got the better of Reina however, Skrtel nipped in behind him to tidy up. All in all it was a funny spell, almost as if the game was in limbo with everyone cancelling each other out and waiting for the next phase or significant move to kick in without trying to intiate it themselves. Kenny bourght on Adam and Kuyt for Carragher and Maxi. Later Gerrard, who looked out of sorts in the game, was replaced by Bellamy. Adam had a long range strike to counteract one from Carrick however, it was all very careful. The more the game went on the more we pressed but the more players The Mancs managed to get behind the ball. It appeared that Kenny’s substitutions were to have no effect and that Old Trafford was beckoning. However…….
It was route one stuff however, this is a one off game. Reina’s long punt found Carroll who got the better of Evans and flicked on to Kuyt who ironically, oh ironically, evaded a woefully out of position Evra. His shot was low, hard and true a wonderful way to score your 50th Liverpool goal and a massive relief for the Dutchman who, so far, has been unable to resurrect the good form he finished on last season. Soon after Andy Carroll, who worked hard and had conjured up a decent perfrmnce despite being fed on inappropriate scraps especially from Downing, headed against the bar, Kuyt under pressure knocked the loose ball wide.
At the end of the game Fergie bemoaned his side’s misfortune however, although he has been in the game along time he must have temporarily forgotten that you can have all the possession in the world but if don’t take your chances and defence doesn’t do it’s job when the opposition have theirs you won’t win and for once, the majority of Anfield was happy to see the opposition rather, than the home team, fall foul of this!
Liverpool: Reina, Jose Enrique, Agger, Carragher (Kuyt 63), Kelly, Skrtel, Gerrard (Bellamy 72), Maxi (Adam 63), Henderson, Downing, Carroll Substitutes: Doni, Johnson, Coates, Adam, Shelvey, Kuyt, Bellamy
Manchester United: De Gea, Evra, Evans, Smalling, Rafael, Giggs (Berbatov 90), Park Ji-sung, Carrick, Scholes (Hernandez 76), Valencia, Welbeck Substitutes: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Fabio Da Silva, Keane, Pogba, Berbatov, Hernandez