written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com
For most Liverpool supporters this is the biggest game of the season, and with the supporters having a newly found belief with Dalglish instrumental in the club’s change of fortunes, this match was going to be a good measure of how far Liverpool has come in their quest to challenge United for the title. Liverpool went into the game with a decent start to the season and on the back of a confidence boosting win over their Merseyside rivals Everton. But Liverpool know they would need to be at their best to beat the Champions as they have been on fire since the start of the season. But Liverpool were trying to make this four wins in a row at home over United as their recent record has been impressive. This match was also going to be Dalglish’s 250th league game in charge of Liverpool. Another milestone was the 160th consecutive league game by Pepe Reina becoming only the sixth Liverpool player in the club’s history to achieve this.
Kenny made only one change from the side that beat Everton with Steven Gerrard coming in for Andy Carroll. Gerrard was only starting his first match since March which was also against Manchester United. Skrtel and Carragher were again partnered in the middle of defence with Enrique on the left side of defence and Kelly on the right. Downing on the left of midfield with Kuyt on the right and Lucas and Adam once again in the middle. Gerrard supporting Suarez in attack.
With Anfield at capacity and the atmosphere electric it was Liverpool who had the first attack with Enrique making a great run down the left before whipping in a dangerous cross which evaded everyone.
Then Gerrard had a free-kick headed to safety by Evra as Liverpool tried to gain the initiative. But United came into the game and Evra made a super run to the bye line before crossing to the back post but Jones could only head into the side netting.
On 21 minutes a short corner allowed Gerrard to whip in a cross towards the near post but Suarez glanced his header just wide of the target. Moments later Suarez hit an audacious 45 yard effort wide of goal with De Gea off his line.
Then in the 34th minute Adam hit a long range drive which broke kindly to Suarez who sidestepped Evans before shooting straight at De Gea. Ji- Sung Park shot wide after robbing Enrique of possession as United rarely threatened in the first half. So both teams went in at the half level with not many chances and the game proving to be as tight a contest as predicted.
Liverpool started the second half on the attack and had appeals for a penalty waved away when Kuyt saw a header come off the arm of Evans. United countered from this and Reina had to be alert to save from Young’s low drive.
The match was continuing to be a tight affair but it came to life in the 68th minute when Charlie Adam made a surging run through the middle of the United half and was then brought down by Ferdinand on the edge of the box. Gerrard fired the resulting free-kick through the United defensive wall and into the net sending the Kop wild.
Ferguson brought on Rooney, Nani and Hernandez to salvage the game and his substitutions worked when with 10 minutes remaining a Nani corner was headed into the roof of the net by Hernandez.
But it was Liverpool who looked to regain the lead in the closing minutes with Kuyt going so close after a superb cross by Enrique but De Gea thwarted the Dutch man with a great save. The United keeper made another great save clawing away a brilliant dipping effort from Henderson. From the resulting corner Skrtel fired over after mayhem in the six yard box. Then right at the death Henderson headed just over from a Downing cross leaving Liverpool having to settle for a point.
A typical tight, and tense affair, with United setting a team out to stop Liverpool playing and in my opinion looking for a draw from the start. The game had very few chances in the first half as both teams cancelled each other out. But Liverpool did have more opportunities and were unlucky not to win especially with the chances at the end. United, hardly threatened, with very few attempts on goal. Ferdinand should have been sent off at the free-kick leading up to the goal as he was on a yellow card, Marriner bottled it. The penalty appeal for Kuyt’s header would have been very soft. Great to see Gerrard back and scoring too, although, he did get lucky with the wall breaking, but who cares. Overall I thought Liverpool were the better team and played very well and can take a lot from this performance.
Man Of The Match – Enrique – Superb defensively and was such a threat going forward with some dangerous crosses.