These are always the worst articles to write. We’ve lost to our bitter rivals. Not only that, we’ve lost by putting in a performance that was, at times, utterly abysmal. Add to that the injury picked up by Sturridge, the three match suspensions for both Skrtel and Gerrard and the fact that we now need a minor miracle to make the top four, and it’s fair to say that this match can be written off as an absolute disaster.
As with most derbies, the quality was poorer than we normally see. Passes were constantly going astray and both teams lacked any sort of fluidity in the early stages. It was Man United who were looking the less awful of the two sides though, and this played out when the visitors took the lead after just fourteen minutes. Ander Herrera played a lovely ball through to Mata, who finished very coolly indeed on his weaker foot.
Liverpool fans could take minor solace in the fact that
it was at least a good goal – it would have been even harder to stomach a
Fellaini header from a long ball over the top.
Our miseries were compounded as the game went on. The first half went from poor to abysmal, and
looked utterly incapable of scoring. We only made one chance in the entire half
– that said, it was a golden opportunity. Adam Lallana received a pull-back
that gave him a clear shot on De Gea’s goal, but he placed it just wide. Other
than that, the home fans had nothing to get off their seats about; following
the rousing chorus of YNWA at the start of the game, the crowd noise rapidly
(and, to be brutally honest, understandably) declined. Any hopes of a second
half revival were quickly stifled – Gerrard, who had come on to replace
Lallana, got himself sent off after just 38 seconds. Experienced he may be, but
he showed all the composure of a 20 year old in his very first Liverpool-United
clash. He needlessly stamped on Herrera in response to a hard challenge he had
just been on the receiving end of, and left the referee no choice but to
dismiss him. Admittedly you can’t really blame him for wanting to take his last
chance to have a good stamp on one of the Mancs, but he hardly helped the team!
Sure enough, United were the next to score.
Liverpool did at least look like they wanted the result
in the second half, but the damage was already done. The second goal for the
visitors came through Mata again – as with the first, it was an excellent goal.
This one was a scissor kick: the ball came in behind him, and he improvised
marvellously to put it into the far corner beyond Mignolet. The game was all
but up by this point – with half an hour to go and one man less than their
opponents, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Liverpool.
It was a testament to Rodgers’ beloved “character” and team spirit that we
managed to pull a goal back – the players didn’t allow their heads to drop
completely, and Sturridge emphatically rifled his strike in at the near post
with twenty minutes to play. This was not enough to inspire an unlikely
recovery, however – United looked the more likely to score the fourth goal of
the game. They seemed as if they were about to do just that in the last few
minutes when Can put in an awfully clumsy challenge in the box, gifting United
a penalty. Rooney, however, could not beat Mignolet, who guessed the right way
and made a fine stop.
I tend to try and end on some sort of positive note after the summary of the match events. Sadly, on this occasion, the immediate future is looking somewhat bleak. We are now five points adrift of fourth place and go into the Arsenal clash on the back of a demoralising loss – failure to win that one will absolutely kill any remaining hopes of a Champions League spot. It is starting to look inevitable that United will somehow make fourth, despite playing absolutely appallingly for most of the season. Of course, being a
Liverpool fan is enough to have taught me that it’s never
quite over, but Europa is looking like it’s on the cards for next season.
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