Saturday, January 28, 2012

Live Thoughts: Liverpool vs Manchester United (FA Cup)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the match between Liverpool and Manchester United in the FA Cup.

Hey there. It's been a while since I covered a match on here, but it's been a very busy time personally. If you didn't know by now I was on BBC1 last week, making a fool of myself on Winter Wipeout. Click here for more details, and on the top right of this page for my clip.

Back to the football! As I didn't cover it live, I just want to say how chuffed I am with the fact that Liverpool have reached their first final in five years! It's been too long! I just hope it doesn't end in heartbreak like it did five years ago, that was one of the most horrible moments as a fan for me. The atmosphere in our house of Liverpool fans was dreadful. But we're huge favourites against Cardiff and let's hope we can put a performance a team like Liverpool are expected to put on at our first venture to Wembley in 16 years!

But today? Another important cup match against another Manchester side, this time the Red Devils. It'd be some statement if we win today, taking on and beating both the top two sides in the Premier League this season. Sure we're not topping the league this year, but it's some statement, and hopefully a preview of what's to come at this club. It's early days but if we actually go all the way in the FA Cup as well as the Carling Cup, that's some progress. We can all hope and we'll find out today how possible that is!

Here are the line-ups: 

Liverpool: Reina; Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique; Maxi, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing; Carroll. Subs: Doni, Johnson, Coates, Kuyt, Adam, Shelvey, Bellamy.

Bellamy on the bench? Are you serious bro? I suppose he needed a rest. Carroll needs to be on form today at this rate. Gerrard needs to support Carroll as much as possible to get the most out of him. I'm not sure I like that decision from King Kenny but as always I trust his judgement. At least Bellamy can come on later.

Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Park, Welbeck. Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Berbatov, Chicharito, Fabio, M.Keane, Pogba.

Similarly, United haven't really put on their best strikers. Berbatov and Hernandez on the bench though, and can cause problems later on. It's a very interesting line up from both sides, almost cautious on both sides. We'll see what happens!

3' - Evra getting booed immensely by the Anfield faithful as expected! 

4' - Maxi takes a lovely shot and it tested de Gea! Corner.The corner goes over the entire box and for a goal kick.

7' - A volley from Giggs is saved comfortably by Reina. Crossed in by Evra. 

8' - Henderson whips in a dangerous cross and it bounced awkwardly for Gerrard who didn't connect well. It was a difficult ball to deal with, if he hit that clean it would have been straight in the net. 

10' - A five man defence is also another relatively negative looking decision by Kenny. That being said we're not defensive at the moment. 

13' - Carragher is actually playing as a defensive midfielder, not a CB. Happy birthday to the Liverpool legend, 34 today. 

16' - VALENCIA! Hits the post! Reina was beat, luckily for us it hit the post! Relief! 

19' - The game is level at the moment. Both sides having good chances. 

20' - GOAL! AGGER! David de Gea had no chance with that, a huge clutter of Liverpool and United players hover for the header and Agger climbed highest!

22' - De Gea is possibly injured apparently. 

23' - Gerrard takes a shot and it's over the bar. A lovely bit of movement from Carroll and Gerrard then, combining nicely. 

25' - Excellent atmosphere today, really giving Evra some stick. Even the Evra stick aside, we're really vocal and it seems to be affecting United which is good. 

27' - Kelly clears the ball nicely against Giggs, he was hurt then but has got up like a true pro. He gets applause for his nitty gritty work. 

30' - Good match so far as I said earlier. It's quite open and hopefully we'll get a second goal if it continues this way. But United are still a threat, but we're defending quite well so far. 

33' - Not much to report at the moment, it's quite open still, but neither side are looking threatening at present. 

36' - Luis Suarez chant is started by the Kop. Excellent stuff. 

37' - Wow, possession is 38%/62% in United's favour. It doesn't look that way, we're holding our own well.

38' - GOAL! Park Ji-Sung scores. Valencia gets away from Enrique, passes to Rafael who whips the ball sharply into Ji-Sung and it's a low drive to the bottom right. Enrique should have done better there, a rare error from the Spaniard. 

41' - So far Valencia has got the better of Enrique in this match. It's a bit of a concern, Enrique has dealt with the right wingers really well this season consistently, but not today. 

44' - It just feels like we're just holding in for half time now. 

45' - One minute of added time.

45+1' - Half time. 

Well this half was a gave of two halves, the first halve we looked really good, and pinned them back a few times. We got the goal we deserved, a great header from Agger. After that United crept towards us and dominated possession, they played a good passing game and eventually got the goal to equalize. It can go either way this match, or for a draw of course. I would rather us avoid the draw personally.

48' - Nothing much is happening at the moment, it's in the balance at present, we need to change this if we want a chance of winning. 

50' - Giggs was at the centre of a strong chance for United but then we cleared the ball and made our own attack! Neither side scored though. 

53' - Bellamy is warming up, hopefully he'll be on soon, I do think we need him at the moment. 

55' - The Evra boo boys are still going strong. I'm just trying to concentrate on the football now, what's past is passed.

56' - Liverpool players and fans call for Handball against Smalling but that would have been harsh. Smalling fell on the ball and his hand touched it as he fell, how was he supposed to know where it was? It's not a penalty. 

57' - Wellbeck completely loses Martin Kelly and is through on goal! He clips the ball round Reina and thankfully Skrtel is there to clear it!

60' - The game is definitely up for grabs, both sides look dangerous on the attack. United have the possession but we're looking good when we have the ball. It can go either way. 

62' - Double Liverpool Substitution: Jamie Carragher and Maxi come off and Dirk Kuyt and Charlie Adam. I approve of these subs personally. Maxi hasn't looked that good in honesty, Kuyt can fill that gap. Charlie Adam can link further up the pitch than Carra did. All in all two positive thinking subs.

63' - De Gea has been really poor when it comes to high balls in this match. What looked like an easy claim, de Gea fumbles it for a corner. It's something we should be taking advantage of. 

64' - Rafael gets a yellow card, Downing was through down the left and Rafael blocks him off deliberately. Free kick in a relatively dangerous area. 

66' - Gerrard takes the free kick and it's a good one, but a very good save by de Gea in the end. 

66' - Michael Carrick takes a low shot and it almost crept in! Just wide. 

69' - We're playing Wolves on Tuesday but I won't be covering that match. I have a lot of site work to do and I've covered a lot of games this season already. Next season I'll be covering certain games rather than 'as many as possible', which has been the case this season.

71' - Liverpool Substitution: Steven Gerrard comes off and Bellamy comes on in his place. Stevie looks a bit gutted as he gives Reina the captains armband, but we need another striker on the pitch if we want to win today. 

74' - This game seems destined for a draw. I have to be honest. 

75' - Manchester United Substitution: Paul Scholes comes off for Javier Hernandez. Another forward thinking sub, both sides are going for it, but it just feels like it's going for a draw.

78' - A dangerous free kick for United leads to a few half chances but no goal. 

80' - A strong few minutes of pressure from Liverpool at the moment, United defending well. 

83' - If either side are to win this it's going to be because of a mistake or a quality goal. Otherwise be prepared for two visits to Old Trafford soon. 

87' - GOAL! KUYT! Kuyt runs to the Kop in celebration! And it was Evra was in error! A Reina goal kick is headed on by Carroll and Kuyt reacts quickest and shots low to the left! 2-1! 

88' - CARROLL! It hit the crossbar! Kuyt on the volley and it's wide! Brilliant stuff from Liverpool!

89' - Manchester United Substitution: Ryan Giggs come off and Dimitar Berbatov takes his place. Gung-ho for United now.

90' -  Three minutes of added time.

90+3' - Full time! 

We beat both Manchester sides in the same week! Brilliant stuff! In the 5th round of the FA Cup, the Carling Cup final, things are great at the moment at Anfield! Surely this FA Cup win means we can have the confidence to go all the way? Let's hope so! Anfield is buzzing, I am buzzing and if you're a Liverpool fan you should be buzzing too! An assured performance today from the Reds, United had the possession but what we did with ours was enough to win today. We had the passion and the maturity to make the most of what we had and it was enough!

That's it from me today, enjoy the rest of your day!

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