This week on Liver n'Onions I hold high hopes for the the next edition of the North Wes Derby, as this one will go down in history as the the one not worthy of going down in history.
Allegations accusing Luis Suarez of racial abusing Patrice Evra is not the only point that scarred the monumental occasion of Liverpool vs. Manchester United at the weekend. The play did that its self. In one of the most disappointing North West Derbies in recent memory, the players from both sides let the gravity of the occasion get to them, effecting the play on view.
There was no real dirty play, with only four yellow cards between the two teams in the match, Liverpool with one to Manchester United three. But the meandering of players more focused on not making mistakes in such a high profile match, rather than going hell for leather, made for a conservative and sloppy spectacle.
Both sides came out in a formation of 4-5-1, giving birth to the slop in the midfield, congesting it so much that the only way to clear it was with a hefty dose of Mucinex. Steven Gerrard marked his full return to the squad, starting from the beginning along side Lucas, and Charlie Adam in the midfield. Leading the line for the Reds was Luis Suarez, whose performance was a mere shadow of that in the corresponding fixture last year. An on song Suarez still would have had a hard time breaking down the defense heavy ranks of United, with Phil Jones playing as a holding midfielder. I was shocked when I saw the line-up Sir Alex put out, not figuring him to make those drastic changes to his line-up. I pondered if both Sir Alex and Kenny Dalgleish had a pow wow before the game and decided to cahoot on tactics together.
" Alright let'us mash a whole bunch of players who don't like each together in the midfield and see what happens…good fun."
Liverpool's attack was crying out for either Andy Carroll or Dirk Kuyt to join the likes of Suarez up top. If not going two up top and having five in midfield, which was clearly pin pointed as the must win area, the 1 in a 4-5-1 is tailor made for an Andy Carroll type forward. Someone that can hold the ball up and bring others into the game. The diminutive Suarez is not that player, and with him up top alone Liverpool is forced to play differently, but they continued to loft the ball from the back and more often then not failed to find the head of Suarez. The lack of targets in the box rendered Stewart Downing's crosses wasteful and unproductive, and the link play between the Lucas, Adam and Gerrard was a sight to forget. Under performing for me, Suarez fluffed a clear chance when he found himself with only United keeper David de Gea to beat, after Charlie Adam's 34th-minute shot kindly rebounded off Jonny Evans, but the Suarez shot straight at the goalkeeper who parried the ball to safety.
With the undeniably weaker United side, Liverpool held their own and it was any ones guess who would score first. The first half was dismal on all accounts, but with the dawn of the second half play perked up a smidge.
Captain fantastic came to the Scousers rescue once again scoring a welcome back goal, gifted to him by Ryan Giggs splitting off the United wall, allowing Stevie's free kick to arrow the back of the net. An emphatic slide capped his return to relevance, marking his 50th goal at Anfield and most importantly brought a beaming smile to this man's tired face.
United really didn't pose much in attack in the majority, but that blessing changed instantly with introduction of Wayne Rooney, Chicharito and Nani- talk about impact subs. Impact is what they made as Chicharito headed home a corner leveling terms 1-1. Leave it to a Liverpool team to concede on a set piece. I know it's been a while since the days of Rafa, but that damn zonal marking came back to haunt us and robbed the Reds of the three points.
Omitted new-boy Jordan Henderson had a chance to illuminate his name in Scouse studded light's, but his head let him down, as he nodded a clear cut opportunity over the bar in stoppage time.
Forgive the somewhat sarcastic tone to this piece, but I cannot deny my disappointment. The spectacle was less than thrilling, and in all fairness a 1-1 is a decent result, but Liverpool had chances to separate themselves. I would have liked to see more attacking urgency, with the introduction of Andy Carroll. He scored in the Merseyside Derby a fortnight ago, and letting the big man slug it up top against Rio and Evans would have been a welcomed sight. I feel both frustrated at the fact we did bot take advantage of the weakened United squad. A draw is usually a good result to get against United, but I feel Liverpool had their number the whole game, yet still performing below-par. Stuff to ponder.
Liverpool face Rangers tomorrow in a friendly taking place at Ibrox, and are at home against Norwich at the weekend.
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