Sunday, March 6, 2011

Liverpool Thrust Dagger Into United's Heart

Dirk KuytAs Liverpool casually knocked the ball from side to side, basking in the glow of the Spring sunshine, cheers of euphoria could be heard echoing through the streets, from Merseyside to London.

In a match which Kenny Dalgish is calling his team's "season highlight," early warnings were aplenty for Ferguson's United side, with Raul Merieles breaking well from midfield on a couple of occasions in the first ten minutes. Throughout the afternoon, the running from Liverpool's central midfielders displayed the sort of appetite that the likes of Michael Carrick have lacked all season. However, it was not to be Portuguese international Merieles who took first blood, but new signing Suarez.

With a twist, a turn and a feint, Suarez showed Sir Alex Ferguson exactly what a Manchester United defense minus Nemanja Vidic looks like. Sublime as Suarez's skills were, one wonders whether a well timed crunching tackle from Vidic would have restored order at the heart of United's frail defense. But, Vidic only really has himself to blame for his place on the sidelines, with his red card being one of the few correct calls made by Martin Atkinson last week.

It is fair to say that Liverpool's first goal was the result of brilliance, but their second couldn't have been any different. Having not made an impact at the correct end of the ground, United winger Nani took it upon himself to make a generous donation to the Dirk Kuyt fund, at the other one. Only Nani will really know what the purpose of his inept back header really was, and I imagine that it was only his injury which spared him the prospect of an interview with an irate Ferguson.

Following Kuyt's goal, the second half ended amidst scenes of violence and disorder on the Anfield pitch, as both Carragher and Rafael showed the world what they have learned from the brutish tackling master, Karl Henry. As both teams trudged into the dressing room at half time, referee Phil Dowd was given a police escort to his changing room, so as to avoid a group of angry United players, led by professional ringleader Patrice Evra.

The second half started with about ten minutes of relentless United pressure, and the Red Devils were unlucky not to get a goal back, as Dimitar Berbatov's point blank header was stopped on the line by the aforementioned Meireles. But the United pressure wasn't to last and, with probably their second meaningful attack of the half, Liverpool won a free kick, once again due to the brilliance of Uruguayan wizard Luis Suarez. Suarez whipped in a curling delivery, which looked ordinarily Van Der Sar would have collected with ease, but an uncharacteristic loss in concentration from the United number one, resulted in a spill, gifting Kuyt his hat trick.

For the next thirty minutes, Liverpool toyed with their arch nemeses, the Kop delivered several renditions of "Happy Birthday To You," and United fans tried to surreptitiously sneak out of the stadium. With the game clearly lost for The Red Devils, fans and analysts alike turned for a look at the table, which now has United atop with a three point lead over Arsenal, albeit having played a game more.

The optimists wearing United colors will point to the opposition in that game, Harry Redknapp's Spurs side, as well as Chicharito's late consolation, as positives to take out of the game, but truthfully, none exist. Last week Carrick signed a new contract, and, on the evidence of this game, United are wasting their money on another sub par midfield player. Even more frighteningly, the first signs appeard that age is catching up with ancient duo Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, as both were rendered ineffective by a dynamic Liverpool midfield.

The title is still United's to lose, but Ferguson will know that any more slip ups could see Arsenal take the reins at the top. As it stands, assuming Arsenal don't beat Tottenham by three goals, United will still be top even if The Gunners come out of White Hart Lane with three points, setting us up nicely for a crucial match at The Emirates.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating.Chicharitos goal maybe important in the goal difference situation.