Liverpool V United
FA Cup 4th Round
12.45pm Kick off
United, Liverpool games are always massive, always full of incident and very rarely disappoint aside from maybe the result. This was no different and was spiced up by the racial abuse Patrice Evra suffered at the hands of Suarez causing the Uruguayan to be suspended for the game and guaranteeing the United captain would be subjected to a torrent of abuse from the Anfield crowd. The crowd for the main whilst noisy and yes abusive towards Evra did at least remain civil, some booing and chanting were to be expected and I wouldn’t have thought that be any different at any of other 90+ league grounds in the country.
So to the football, United took to the pitch with what would today be described a weakened side, second choice keeper 18 million signing David De Gea got a start and in midfield we fielded the oldest combination probably seen in football with a combined age between Scholes, Giggs and Carrick of 105. With Rooney and Nani out injured it Welbeck who carried our goal scoring threat.
A Quiet burst into life with the first real chance falling to Valencia who powered past 2 Liverpool defenders and hit a thunderbolt which had Reina beat all ends up only for it to canon back off the post. Liverpool then took the lead on 21 minutes as the gamble on playing De Gea backfired, despite a smart early save from Maxi he was found wanting for much of the game. Liverpool were obviously targeting the young Spaniard with 2 players sat on him for set pieces and when Gerrard swung the ball over, Agger climbed above our sleeping defence and with De Gea in no mans land fighting to try to shake his 2 minders the ball skimmed off his head and into the net. De Gea unfortunately looked ever increasingly nervous from that point on, his catching was poor, his distribution worse still and should have done better with Liverpool’s eventual winner.
This prompted a spell of possession that gave the impression of dominance and yes in part it was we controlled the game for 25 minutes of the first half and the equalizer was well deserved. Rafael who was outstanding throughout getting to the byline and cutting back for Park to drill home. What was disappointing was despite all of the possession we had in that 25 minute spell this was the only meaningful chance we created.
The second half took a very similar shape with lots of United possession with very little cutting edge. Scholes the architect but dared not venture past the half way line, Carrick looks static alongside him and Giggs looked every bit the 38 year old he is. Liverpool didn’t particularly play well but just looked that bit more dangerous in the final third. Tackles started to fly in as the game progressed and Maxi was possibly fortunate to stay on the pitch in light of recent dismissals but wasn’t even booked for his 2 footed lunge. A red would have probably been harsh but the lack of even a booking was baffling.
With the game heading towards a replay that I am sure neither manager would have wanted, Fergie chanced his arm bringing off Scholes and throwing on Chicharito and this seemed to hand the initiative to Liverpool and they made it tell in the 87th minute. Evra went AWOL and Kuyt found some space in the left channel to drill home past De Gea, Evra’s mistake but I felt the keeper should have done much better.
A very disappointing loss, we dominated possession but never really created much in the way of chances which is a bigger worry with some tough league games coming up, it showed again our lacking in the centre of midfield and how much we need Rooney and Nani to be firing if we are to retain our title and make it 20.