Editorials, News — October 16, 2011 15:52

A Day Of Mixed Emotions – We Should Have Won

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The 183rd meeting between Liverpool and Man Utd ended in a draw.

Was a draw a fair result? Why couldn’t we finish them off ? Should Liverpool have claimed all three points?

Whatever the questions, it certainly wasn’t easy to shrug those feelings of disappointment at the end of the game. The joy and jubilation after Steven Gerrard’s free kick seem to fade away when Man Utd equalised through Javier Hernandez. A well deserved victory was denied.

However, with all disappointments there are positives, and in this performance there were certainly plenty.

The Build up – Season so far 

Liverpool

Liverpool have had an indifferent start to the season. There have been some impressive victories over Bolton, Arsenal and Everton. But then there were the defeats at Stoke and the horror show at Tottenham that raised questions about Liverpool’s ability to compete with the top half of the division.

Man Utd

Man Utd on the other hand have had one of their better starts to the season remaining undefeated in the Premier League this season. They have already put 8 goals past Arsenal and when Chelsea offered a challenge, they were also disposed off at Old Trafford.

Both teams have started the season in opposite ways, Man Utd gaining momentum over the season and Liverpool trying to gain momentum.

Would Anfield host another carnival like the one held on the 6th March this year? Or would Liverpool be on the receiving end of an unthinkable Man Utd defeat?

The Match

The atmosphere is always special at Anfield but on Derby day it is that extra special. The Man Utd manager describing the game as ‘…the biggest game of the season..’  He wasn’t wrong, with the Anfield faithful in full voice and behind their team, Man Utd were to enter an intense and fiery cauldron, and with memories of a 3-1 defeat hanging over them, it would seem Alex Ferguson sent out a team to stem the tide.

Liverpool started off brightly for the first few minutes pushing away at Man United’s defence. Liverpool clearly trying to assert their authority on the game. However, Man Utd remained equal to this and brushed aside any Liverpool impetus.  Infact, it was the team from Manchester who began to take control in large parts of the first half, with Phil Jones coming close for the away team.  Apart from an ambitious run from  Martin Skrtel and a half chance from Luis Suarez (34th minute) that saw him quickly turning Jonny Evans and his shot saved was saved by David De Gea, the first half was stalemate.

The second half showing was much better from the Reds. Liverpool dominated the second half, creating more opportunities and showing glimpses that all Reds had been craving for…a mood of attack!

Attack…Attack…Attack…Attack…Attack!

Liverpool began to grow in the second half and started playing with more confidence and fluency. A completely different team seemed to show up in the second half. There was more urgency and Liverpool were searching with more drive and free licence. Suddenly, Liverpool were running the gauntlet and the opposition were being treated without any caution. Getting that much needed open goal appeared to be the number one priority.

Liverpool launched into wave after wave of attack, raising the temp of their game and the spirits of the fans. What was missing in the first half was now beginning to take shape…Liverpool were taking charge!

Charlie Adam was having one of his best games in a red shirt, he was everywhere; helping out the defence, chasing balls downs, starting moves and it was through his desire and forward thinking that led to the first goal. Adam picking the ball up from the centre circle drove fearlessly past Man Utd players before being fouled by Rio Ferdinand at the edge of the box.

Steven Gerrard, making his first start since the 3-1 demolition of Man Utd stepped up to take the free kick. Gerrard and scored from a similar position against Man Utd at Old Trafford last season and lightning was about to strike twice!

Gerrard guided the ball through the broken wall with Ryan Giggs making way for the ball to reach its destination. Goal! Stevie running off to celebrate with the Kop and taking the opportunity to remind the team from Manchester what number is bigger than 19…number 5.

The mood inside the stadium had changed and after constant Liverpool pressure, we were finally on top in the 68th minute. With ‘Steve Gerrard Gerrard…’ and ‘The Fields of Anfield Road’ bellowing around Anfield, Nani and Wayne Rooney were sent on immediately.

Nani testing the left side of Liverpool as soon as he came on, Man Utd weren’t about to give in. The next ten minute fell back into the story of the second half, Liverpool allowing Man Utd into the game. Man Utd started pressing Liverpool and found themselves more and more attacking Anfield Road. A corner was awarded in the 80th minute and from that corner, Man Utd substitute Hernandez latched on to a header from Danny Wellbeck, and equalised. Hernandez wriggled free from Martin Skrtel who had  slipped while defending  that corner. A harsh reality began to filter through around Anfield. But with 10 minutes still remaining on the clock, the Redmen picked themselves up and went looking for the winner.

Liverpool came close on three separate occasions and if it was not for their keeper, the game would have had a similar scoreline to the last meeting between these two sides. Stewart Downing delivered a fabulous cross from the wing for the incoming Dirk Kuyt, who watched his attempt saved by De Gea. Kuyt did everything right, on another day that shot may have seen the net ripple but on this occasion De Gea palmed it away, showing reflexes of the highest order. De Gea was in fine form, as he was again called into action, this time from Jordan Henderson’s creative dipping shot, managing to tip the shot over the bar acrobatically.

Liverpool continued with their renewed desire and persisted with finding the winner. As the clock ran down and 3 minutes of injury time signaled, we nearly did. The best chance fell to Henderson again in the dying moments of the game. Another fine Stewart Downing cross found the Liverpool midfielder in space but this time Henderson’s header could only find the roof of the net.  The game ended in a draw. The second half came to life and had shades of a cup final but no trophy, just 1 point.

Naturally disappointed but plenty of positives to savour

Walking out of Anfield, there was a sense of disappointment as we should have won the game. Liverpool were up against a team who were content in stemming any Liverpool tide and settling for a point. It would appear Man Utd did not want a repeat for their 3-1 humiliation early this year.

Character – Winner’s mentality in the team’s DNA

It was Livepool who took the initiative and gradually broke the Man Utd guard to create the opening goal. When the Reds were pegged back to 1-1, we did not give up  and continued the quest to find the winner and if it was not for De Gea, we probably would have. Their goalkeeper kept them in the match. That did not deter us and Liverpool continued to bombard Man Utd towards the end of the game. Had one of those chances gone in at the end, we would be talking more and more about Liverpool’s character. The Reds are still developing and growing this season. Successful teams of the past have always pushed til the very end of a game to ensure a victory. Whether this be, defending a lead or searching for the winner. The grit and determination from the previous games was seeping through and a winner’s mentality is emerging throughout the team’s DNA, this is very encouraging to see!

Players raising their game

I again witnessed at first hand, the fear Suarez strikes into other teams. There were many moments during the game when you could see how shaky and nervous Man Utd became when Suarez had the ball. His movement, his pace and his ability to weaving in and out of players, leaves opposition teams unable to handle Liverpool’s number 7. After all, it was the Suarez show last season.

Downing had one of his better games delivering match winning crosses. Stewart is patiently working away and it is just a matter of time before his impact is felt on a grander scale. It has been a long time since we have seen crosses flying in from the left.  His delivery during the game was exceptional.

Adam has already had a mention, and deserves another. He was bossing the midfield and drove Liverpool forward on many occasions.

Steven Gerrard

Last and by no means least, our captain Steven Gerrard was awesome! I wrote a few weeks ago that, it hasn’t been right not playing without Stevie G for so long and yesterday game reminded us what an incredible talent he is. Along with Jamie Carragher, Captain Fantastic is the heartbeat of our beloved club and to have him back in the goals was very special. It was Stevie’s  first full game with the team in months but the experience and presence he has on the field is invaluable. You just have to look at the player’s faces during the celebrations after Stevie’s goal to understand what Stevie means to the team…priceless! Stevie G is back!

 

Final thoughts

With plenty of positives to take from this game, and past games, the direction of our season is now taking is alot healthier. Liverpool are now making strides, momentum is building and nearly a month on since the Tottenham result, we are getting back on track. Yes, we should have won yesterday, but if all the positives can be taken on board and built upon, we can once again get excited and be optimistic about what lies ahead for the rest of the season.

The future is brighter – Liverpool made us feel proud yesterday – In Kenny we trust.

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