Saturday, October 15, 2011

Live Thoughts: Liverpool vs Manchester United (Premier League)

I wrote this live. These are my unedited thoughts when we took on United at Anfield.
Hey everyone, welcome to another of my Live Thoughts feeds, this time I'm back with the mighty Reds, and by that I mean Liverpool obviously, when we take on The Red Devils in Manchester United. A win today would mean a lot, a win over the champions would finally give them their first defeat of the season, and would make us feel like we're closer to the top than some people think we are. That being said, a top 4 finish this season is still the target in my eyes. But that doesn't mean I want more! Let's kick the Mancs out of their stride at Anfield!

Here are teams:

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Gerrard, Downing, Suarez. Subs: Doni, Bellamy, Carroll, Henderson, Spearing, Robinson, Agger.

Gerrard starts his first game since March, seven months ago today. Hopefully some of the anxious faithful can shut up now! It's an intruiging lineup with Gerrard playing in the hole and Suarez up front on his own. It's either a piece of tactical genius or it's a big mistake. We have no height in our attack now really and if their defence wins the battle, we aren't scoring, pure and simple. But Suarez ripped their defence with his trickery last time, let's hope he has a similar game. Suarez and Gerrard combining for the first time properly is a salivating thought though.

Manchester United: De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Park, Fletcher, Giggs, Jones, Young, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard, Anderson, Rooney, Hernandez, Carrick, Nani, Valencia.

Wow... Rooney, Hernandez AND Nani on the bench? Are you serious bro? That's a huge gamble by Alex Ferguson, arguably his three most threatening players are on the bench. It makes a very strong bench mind. Let's hope we can put pressure on them early and make them pay for their potential mistake. Very dangerous gambling by old purple nose.

1' - Alex Ferguson says that Rooney had a bad week and that's why he's not playing. He's also playing more defensively because we took advantage of a lot of space on the pitch in the last match. Fair enough. It's still a defensive approach, one that hopefully we'll take advantage of.

4' - There's a lot of youth on both sides which is good, they just said that Phil Jones wasn't even born the last time we won the league. Ouch. We do have Martin Kelly and Suarez who are both very young. 

7' - Stewart Downing stretches into a tackle and it was slightly mistimed and it was called for a foul. I do like the crunching tackles and stuff, but we only just played Everton and in these derbies you need to be careful. 

10' - Manchester United are putting a bit of pressure on us but we're defending very well. No hoels at the moment. 

13' - Free kick for Manchester United a few yards outside the corner of the right side of the penalty area, Young takes it and it's straight to Reina's gloves.

15' - Some good attacking play from United, they're starting to get on top of us . It ends with Patrice Evra crossing from the left wing to Phil Jones who can't quite get to it. Not good.

18' - It's the one year anniversary since the new American owners took over. It's been a good year I'd say. 

20' - A small amount of pressure for us gets us a corner. A quick corner is taken and Gerrard can't quite get to it. Close though. 

23' - The game is a lot more open now, with us looking a little bit more threatening. 

26' - A huge amount of dominance now, pretty much three minutes straight of us just chipping away at them. Great stuff.

27' - The dominance halts as Lucas brings down Park Ji-Sung for a yellow card.

29' - A battle between Suarez and Ferdinand and the veteran defender falls on his arse and is made to look a fool. Excellent.

32' - The game has calmed down a bit now which is a shame. 

34' - SUAREZ! Saved by De Gea! What a shame, he should have done better. He shook the last defender loose and shoots straight at the young Spaniard. 

35' - Possession so far is 56%/44% to Liverpool, which is good. We have been better in the last quarter. 

36' - Darren Fletcher wastes a good chance as Manchester United pass smoothly around the Liverpool defence, it's cut to Fletcher who takes a shot from the corner of the right side of the penalty area with a bit of space, and it's wide to the left. 

38' - The Kop is singing "I Just Can't Get Enough", I love this chant. 

39' - Skrtel goes down the right wing like a proper winger, he beats two defenders before Ferdinand stops him. Good stuff. 

40' - Wayne Rooney goes for a job on the touchline and gets booed by the Kop. As a Liverpool fan I'm happy naturally, although as an England fan I do think a three match ban was harsh. But it's Liverpool today and with Rooney not playing I'm chuffed. 

42' - Yellow card for Ashley Young for shoulder barging Gerrard.. Free kick towards the right corner flag, Charlie Adam takes it and De Gea punches it out.

43' - Lucas and Phil Jones bang heads and Jones is out for the moment. Lucas sluggishly falls to the floor. It wasn't intentional by Lucas. I hope Jones is okay. 

44' - Phil Jones is now sitting up, that's good. It looked really nasty. 

45' - Two minutes of added time, although they may be more. Jones has gone off the pitch and Lucas is staying on. 

45+2' - Half time.

My summary of the first half was that it's been an interesting game, it's not really been outstanding as such, but there's been some half chances on both sides. The best chance was Suarez's effort that was tame and straight at De Gea. I think we had the better half, but you can't rule out Manchester United, they've had their spells as well. Let's hope we can start the second half well, as their bench is really dangerous and we don't want to leave it at 0-0 when the big guns come on. 

47' - Pepe Reina doesn't deal with an Ashley Young free kick very well. Danger is over though.

48' - Downing claims that Chris Smalling was tugging at his shirt as they battle down the left flank. The ref lets it go for a goal kick. 

50' - Suarez does his magic in a tight situation with Chris Smalling and wins a corner. Smalling is lucky it was just that as it looked like he beat him!

51' - KUYT! Hand ball! It was hand ball in the Manchester United box but Johnny Evans gets away with it! 

53' - Yellow card for Ferdinand as he brings Adam down.

54' - Suarez takes a shot and it's saved well be De Gea. It was around 20 yards out and low, but there was some space in the corner of the box when he took it. 

55' - Gerrard storms into the right side of the box and takes a shot but it was too close to the end of the pitch for him to get a good enough shot and it's saved. 

56' - Liverpool Sub: Jordan Henderson comes on for Lucas Leiva. Interesting change, I think it's considered an attacking one. 

57' - Just a little observation, Martin Skrtel plays with a lot more passion nowadays than ever before. He goes forward more and he's a lot more animate. It's good. 

57' - Suarez fouls Evra and it was a little malicious. Evra is limping off. Suarez gets away with it, it looked intentional, not too dissimilar to Rooney's sending off last week, although more discrete.

60' - We're definitely playing better than Man United now, although Nani is about to come on. He's had an excellent year. Evra is back on by the way.

62' - United start an attack but we end up counter attacking it. It's end to end at the moment, a great game to watch. 

63' - Suarez dances around the Man United players in their box but he has to drift to the left and his shot is deflected. Corner. The corner leads to a retake, which then leads to a Charlie Adam shot which is from the wide and not deep enough.

64' - Patrice Evra is booked for moaning at the referee for the tackle from Suarez earlier, and for the fact that he's basically an awesome little Uruguayan menace in their box. 

66' - FREE KICK in a dangerous area. Ferdinand clips Adam down JUST outside the box. No card though, Ferdinand could have been booked and sent off for that. 

67' - GERRARD! FUCK YES! Gerrard slams the ball low into the bottom right of the United net! 1-0! 

68' - Double Man United Substitution - Wayne Rooney and Nani come on for Park Ji-Sung and Ashley Young.

69' - People are arguing that Adam went down with minimal contact but I don't think so. It was a lazy foot that Ferdinand put out and there was enough contact. No, it wasn't a double footed challenge or anything rash, but it was enough. 

70' - Haha, when you see the replay of the goal, look at Suarez! He's in the wall with the United players and he turns around and starts dancing, taunting De Gea! Fucking legend! 

73' - More statistics for you, Man United have lost the last three visits to Anfield, this being the fourth in a row if they lose today. It doesn't feel like we've been that dominant at home against them, but it's true. Also, this is the first time United have been behind in a match this season, and if they lose, it's their first defeat. Let's hope all this continues or it all means nothing then! 

74' - One thing that frustrated me about Gerrard in the last eighteen months or so was his lack of goals from free kicks. Most of his goals were penalties last season. To see him score such a fantastic free kick is great, it's a sight I missed dearly. Steve Gerrard, Gerrard... 

75' - Nani blasts the ball well wide over the bar. 

76' - United Sub: Phil Jones comes off for Javier Hernandez. Obviously an attacking sub, and it's their last one.

77' - More stats, so far, both sides have had nine shots on goal, but six of ours have been on target. United? Only two. 

78' - Nani appeals for handball when it appears to his the lower inside arm of Jose Enrique. It looks unintentional, but it could have easily been given. 

80' - GOAL! Patrice Evra! Two United corners in succession, both taken by Nani, the second lands on Evra's head and it goes straight in. 1-1. Completely against the recent run of play. Gutted.

81' - KUYT! Great save by De Gea! A lovely cross from Downing bounces in the box and Kuyt gets to it and it looks like it's going straight in but for De Gea! 

83' - It's end to end stuff at the moment. I think we should bring Bellamy on for the last few minutes. We'll see.

85' - What passion form Jordan Henderson, the ball was loose and wild and he controls it and retreats slightly backwards and slides the ball into possession. It's hard to describe what he did but put it this way, it was appreciated by the Kop.

86' - Downing! Just wide. His shot was from the left just outside the box and he hits it just over the right side of the bar. 

88' - Free kick in relatively dangerous area for Liverpool. It's about 8 yards further back and more to the right than from the earlier one. Unfortunately it doesn't really go anywhere and it ends up leading to a goal kick for United. 

90' - HENDERSON! My goodness! That was close! Great save from De Gea in the end. Really Gerrard-esque, he who shoots from the outside of the right hand side of the box and it looks like it creeps into the top left corner, but De Gea gets a great glove to it! Three minutes of added time.

90+1' - The corner is taken and we're all over them in the box! Many near chances, the best being from Suarez who tries to head backwards into the net but it's dealt with. So close! 

90+1' - Henderson! Grr! Downing crosses from the left and Henderson is in the box and he heads it just over the bar.

90+3' - Full time. 

GAAHH!! We were so close. We beat the crap out of United in the second half. If it was a boxing match we would have won this match on points. But it's not boxing, it's football. Our free kick goal was the justification for this dominance, with Gerrard slotting it into the bottom right corner. Their goal was completely against the run of play. I genuinely believe we were the better side today. They were lucky to come away with a point. They're still undefeated but you know something? They'll go back to Manchester with their tails between their legs because they were beat on that pitch today. It's a reality check for them. And for us? A fantastic second half display against the best side in the land really will do us good. Yes it was two points dropped at home. But we played with passion and quality against a very good United side. It wasn't that United played badly today, it was that we played better than them all over the pitch. Bring on the next match! I can't wait! That's it from me today, take care and spike your hair.

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