Game in a sentence

The Red Devils’ dominant first 60 minutes is enough to see them through against Liverpool at home, putting pressure on Manchester City keep up (they will).

Observations

  • Robin Van Persie. Forgive me for running out out of superlatives to describe the Dutch striker. I’ll leave it at this: he’s a treat to watch. His goal in the 19th minute set the tone that would be prevalent for most of the match. Fantastic work from Tom Cleverley and Patrice Evra created the chance.
  • Cleverley and Michael Carrick dominated the middle of the park. TC’s numbers in the first half: 95% passing and a 100% completion rate on attacking passes. In contrast, Joe Allen was outmatched. Brendan Rodgers employed Allen in an attacking role, a conspicuous decision considering Liverpool was much better when Steven Gerrard took Allen’s place.
  • The end of the first half saw the most bizarre event of the game. A great ball from Carrick was met by Rafael, who found Van Persie in the box. The former Arsenal man’s back heel led to a collision between Pepe Reina and Shinji Kagawa. Reina’s concussion — he shook it off. Sports! — was made possible by Andre Wisdom, who shoved Kagawa into the Liverpool keeper.
  • Howard Webb stole the show moments later, allowing Liverpool to play on as Reina crumpled to the turf in pain. Once Liverpool lost the ball Webb blew the play down. His teammates chose to play on — Webb should’ve recognized that.
  • Nemanja Vidic made it 2-0 in the 55th minute. Allen’s clumsy challenge on Kagawa led to a free kick for United just outside the box. Van Persie’s free kick found Patrice Evra, left wide open by Wisdom. Evra’s header deflected off of Vidic and past Reina. Wisdom — a Bradford City grad — had a terrible day.
  • Daniel Sturridge came on in the second half, and immediately injected life into Liverpool’s attack. Sturridge scored five minutes after his introduction, latching on to a rebound to bring Liverpool back within one. The Suarez-Sturridge partnership looks promising.
  • Liverpool turned on the screws in the final 20 minutes. Manchester United, for all their dominance, still had problems at the back. Sturridge had a glorious chance at equalizing, only to send it over the bar. That’s why Chelsea were fine with letting him go. It’s why, at just 23, he’ll have to convert those chances if he wants to quite the skeptics.
  • Yesterday I mentioned Steven Gerrard’s ‘controversial’ interview. The response, via social media, was strong. Fans want to hear honesty, not bullshit. Gerrard’s candor was appreciated by most.
  • Manchester United  made history with the win. After 22 games they have 55 points, a club record. As I type Manchester City leads Arsenal 2-0, with the Gunners reduced the 10 men. The gap will likely remain at seven points. It’s still too early to write off the league, but overall I’m having trouble seeing where United fall off. Titles aren’t awarded in January, but hopes are dashed. That wasn’t poetic at all.

Three stars

1. Michael Carrick

2. Tom Cleverley

3. Rafael

Comments (13)

  1. It has happened a few times this year (and the last 3 years to be fair) where United completely let off after going ahead in a match. In fairness to Liverpool, moving Suarez a little deeper and making sure Allen had as little of the ball as possible caused a lot of problems for United, but it is still an annoying trend.

    On a side note, Webb was shockingly bad today.

  2. Webb was right to blow the play down, regardless of Liverpool playing on. Referees must stop the play for serious injuries, especially head injuries.

    • Then why wait for Liverpool to keep attacking and blow the whistle right after they lose the ball, he must have seen the injury before.

    • on this it should have been blown down with Liverpool on the attack. I hope Reina had had some stiff words for his petulant mids and forwards who played on while he was in obvious stress. just pathetic.

      Webb should be taken to task for not blowing it dead earlier. and for missing the foul on Kagawa that caused him to clatter Reina and should have resulted in a penalty kick.

  3. So Webb was supposed to then allow play to go on with a goalkeeper down? Seriously? Maybe he could’ve blown earlier, but to say since he didn’t stop play earlier then he should’ve allowed play to go on with the keeper down is silly. Would you still be saying that if a goal had been scored past a prostrate Reina?

    • If he allowed Liverpool to play on with Reina down, then why stop play as soon as Untied get the ball? It may be silly, but what he did makes it look like he’s favouring Liverpool in that situation.

    • if the keeper was hurt it should have been blown dead much earlier to get him help. as it was it looked as if webb was trying to give Liverpool an unfair advantage. they played on. if United had had the ball they would have (I hope) had the honour to put it out of play.

      if he let it go to the point of Liverpools attack fizzeling he should have let it go on until they had been punished with a goal.

  4. No mention of the “five times” celebration from Sturridge? This guy has played 100 minutes for them and they aren’t even in Europe anymore. Also setting of flares when they’re down 2-1. Classic stuff.

    • I thought he might have just been waving but it did look somewhat like a five times celebration.

      The flare on the other hand was just hilarious, I have never seen a flare lit in that situation. Liverpool fans certainly are a constant source of entertainment.

      • the best source of Liverpool entertainement remains the twitter account @rawk_meltdown it’s a posting of various entries in the Liverpool forums. just an incredibly deluded bunch of fans.

        @RAWK_Meltdown

        They (Man Utd) are not a better side, the second half proved that. In the first half we let them play

        ‏@RAWK_Meltdown

        When we beat West Ham they were in the top half of the table
        Details

        ‏@RAWK_Meltdown

        soccer Saturday like to make us sound shit …
        Details

        ‏@RAWK_Meltdown

        We beat Everton at Goodison, it’s just that the officials failed to notice!
        Details

        ‏@RAWK_Meltdown

        Borra- Studge – Suaro…Read em and weep
        Details

        ‏@RAWK_Meltdown

        Plus I’m sure BR will ave access to Mourinho after the game. Perhaps an analysis and a few pointers and a transfer discussion…
        Details

        @RAWK_Meltdown

        Next season- we’ll be better!

  5. That “Manchester United made history with the win. After 22 games they have 55 points, a club record” stat blew my mind! Especially considering how they’re still not in top gear, and still bleeding goals and getting slammed by the media as needing this player and that player

  6. Agger fouled wellbeck for the free kick that united scored there second from and sturridge came on at half time not in the 55th minute. did you even watch the game?

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