Steven Gerrard scores a second penalty as Liverpool humble Manchester United 3-0
Manchester United were humbled at home by a rampant Liverpool who won for the first time at Old Trafford in five years. Steve Gerrard scored two penalty kicks and Luis Suarez rounded off the home side’s misery when he latched on to a mis-hit Daniel Sturridge shot. United only really tested Simon Mignolet’s goal just before the break, when Wayne Rooney’s goal bound effort was saved.
United looked rigid and flat in comparison to their rivals, who stroked the ball around with ease for most of the match. The home side were chasing shadows for most of the game and found it difficult to defend against the counter attacking play of Liverpool. Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling would take turns to drop deep and help influence play, with the youngster often found at the tip of the diamond.
We discuss the talking points from the game and welcome comments from both sets of fans.
Penalties, sending off and Liverpool dominance
Steven Gerrard had the chance to score a hattrick at Old Trafford with his third penalty following a foul by Nemanja Vidic on Daniel Sturridge in the second half.
The Manchester United captain was sent off for his challenge, despite pleading his innocence as he felt that the Liverpool forward had dived to win the penalty. The Liverpool skipper missed the third penalty, but there was no question that the referee was correct on all three decisions.
Gerrard’s first penalty was a result of a Rafael handball in the box. The Brazilian was lucky to remain on the pitch having just been booked for a late lunge on Gerrard. United couldn’t have any complaints as the Liverpool captain converted the penalty past the helpful De Gea. United went into break a goal down and rarely tested the Liverpool goal with a rigid and unimaginative display.
It was key for United to hit back quickly following half time, however – it was the visitors who were awarded another penalty after a clumsy challenge from Phil Jones on Joe Allen. Again, the Liverpool skipper stepped up and converted the penalty, going lower than before. United were two goals down and, if truth be told, it could have been even more at this stage.
There were cries for a penalty following the ball brushing Glenn Johnson’s hand as he gave away a corner kick, however – it would have been extremely harsh. Michael Carrick’s challenge on Sturridge, following the third penalty, resulted in a number of United players venting their anger at Liverpool’s number 15 – although replays show there was contact from the United man.
Credit has to be given to Liverpool for an excellent performance and it would have been more if it hadn’t of been for a world class stop from David De Gea with Luis Suarez clean through on goal. United were humbled today by a better side who looked confident throughout, a far cry from the home side.
David Moyes’ men look lost in contrast to Rodgers’ creative side
After the Fulham game, David Moyes remarked that the draw with the Premier League’s bottom club was “as bad as it gets”. Since that 2-2 draw, a game where United set a record for the most crosses lumped in a match; the outgoing Champions have lost convincingly to Greek side Olympiakos and now to arch rivals Liverpool. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but many would agree that it was got a whole lot worse.
United looked lost, unimaginative and rigid in their play. Lining up against Liverpool today it was a flat 4-4-2, with Juan Mata floating in from the right hand side. However, United’s style of play was predictable and the midfield duo of Carrick and Fellaini appeared overwhelmed with the front three interchanging and dropping deep, whilst the maturing Henderson was occupying pockets of space in between the lines.
Brendan Rodgers had done an exceptional job at Swansea City and got the Welsh outfit playing a superb brand of football that was joy to watch. The former student of Jose Mourinho knew full well the magnitude of the job that faced him, especially considering he was replacing a club legend in Kenny Dalglish at the helm. There is no doubt that Rodgers’ enthusiasm and ideas were exactly what Liverpool needed in of the nostalgia, and outdated tactics, that surrounded one of Liverpool’s most decorated ex players.
Rodgers debut season saw the club finish below Everton following a difficult start to the season. Liverpool lost 3-0 to WBA, 2-0 to Arsenal, 2-1 to Manchester United and 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur within the first few months of the season, however – it is clear that Rodgers was trying to build a team with a particular style and philosophy. Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing were shipped out and he made some shrewd signings in Sturridge and Coutinho. Liverpool are now very much in the title race and Rodgers versatile and fluid style of player is there for all to season.
Manchester United on the other hand have regressed over the season and the brand of football that is being played is dull and unimaginative. Knee jerk reactions are uncalled for, but what type of side is David Moyes trying to build at United? Game after game, Moyes looks up to the heavens in despair at what is unfolding in front of him and time is surely running out.
People need to be given time to be able to instil their philosophy and ideas but as mentioned, Moyes’ men look lost. Robin van Persie was the best player in the league last season but looks a shadow of his former self, both in his movement and finishing. Juan Mata, United’s record signing, still hasn’t scored for the club and also looks a different player to the one that won club player of the season twice at Chelsea. Time needs to be given, but only if there is clear plan in place. It is difficult at present to see what Moyes’ one actually is.
Match Conclusion: United brushed aside by old rivals
March was going to be an important month for Manchester United and David Moyes, with fixtures against two title chasing rivals and a make or break Champions League tie. United were brushed aside today by Liverpool, who are in the mix with Arsenal, Manchester City and league leaders Chelsea for the title.
For all of Liverpool’s impressive display, United were again way below par and look hesitant in their play. Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj, two of United’s brightest hopes from an attacking threat, didn’t look convincing at all – with the youngster being withdrawn following a quiet display.
Mata’s best performances for Chelsea came through the middle of the pitch rather than out wide. In the first half, United’s rarely had an attacking threat from the right hand side, with Rafael being the only outlet.
Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie do not look the strike force that many Reds had predicted in the summer of 2012 when the Dutchman signed for the club. There were early reports that he was bemused by Moyes’ training regime and the of course came the recent comments that “other players were occupying his space” against Olympiakos – but it is quite clear, from his body language and movement, all is not well.
Ronald De Boer poked the fire with his comments that his countryman will leave United in the summer, which sparked a defensive response from the United manager. Van Persie’s strike partner described the defeat to Liverpool as “one of the worst days in football”. Wayne Rooney, who had United’s best chance to score, couldn’t argue with the penalties and praised the visitors for their performance.
United have it all to do against Olympiakos on Wednesday to turn around a two goal deficit, whilst Saturday teatime sees a trip to West Ham United.