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Liverpool 2-0 Man United: Vindication For Rafa Benitez


It’s been a week of hell for the players and supporters of Liverpool Football Club, but a much deserved 2-0 win against their arch-enemy Manchester United Sunday will remove the gloom and doom on Merseyside and offer Rafael Benitez vindication as a football manager.

Simply put, Liverpool were deserved winners in this game. Throughout the match, Liverpool seemed more hungry to win fifty-fifty balls. As soon as United gained possession, a player on red pressured the United player. Liverpool controlled midfield where Lucas Leiva had one of the best games of his career. Javier Mascherano, alongside the Brazilian, was also pivotal at closing down United and creating new attacks.

You could go through this entire Liverpool side and identify each one of them as a hero on Sunday, such was the level of determination and skill that they showed. For Manchester United, it was an unusual performance by them where they seemed to be completely on the back foot and were limited to counter-attacks that were snuffed out by the stellar back of Liverpool with Aurelio, Johnson, Carragher and Agger having a sound game.

Fernando Torres, for me, was the man of the match. Not because he scored the opening goal (and what a brilliant goal it was, showing a perfect example of his strength on the ball), but the way he came back into midfield and, with his back to play, headed countless balls back to Liverpool to start new attacks. Torres was butchered and badgered throughout the early parts of the match, but he stood tall, took the hits against him and soldiered on.

For me, Liverpool could have put this match safely out of the reach of Man United if only they had been more clinical in front of goal. There were several occasions where either Dirk Kuyt or Yossi Benayoun took one too many touches on the ball instead of shooting at Edwin van der Sar.

A couple of other observations:

  • I don’t want to hear moaning and complaining by either set of fans about how the referee was unfair or how calls were missed. This was an incredibly difficult match to referee, but I thought Andre Marriner did a superb job. Vidic deserved the two yellows. Mascherano did too. End of story.
  • Commentators Jon Champion and David Pleat usually amuse me, but they got on my nerves today for most of the match (until the end where Champion rose above his game). Champion and Pleat discussing the League Manager’s Association for me was drivel and annoying.
  • Full credit to Fox Soccer Channel for allowing the broadcast of the match to continue past the final whistle instead of immediately cutting to commercial. The atmosphere of Anfield drowned the TV set and was a fitting end to a well-deserved win.
  • Manchester United supporters should have seen plenty of things to worry about from this game. Dimitar Berbatov was well below par and seemed out of his league on several occasions in this match. Rooney tried hard but seemed to be one of the few United players giving 100%. Is this the beginning of a downward turn for United?
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  1. Lino Guerreiro

    October 26, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    For me, the game was an absolute classic. Being a Liverpool fan, I feel this was their finest performance of the season thus far. As for the officiating, the rulings were nearly top notch. Carragher was lucky not to have conceded a penalty after taking down of Carrick, even though he did get a piece of the ball. Now, in regards to Jon Champion…he is the best there is in the game. Period! Maybe I just don’t know enough of the other commentators (I really like Steve Banyard and Alan Parry), but for me, nobody calls a game like Jon. I can’t tell you how many times I played back certain parts of the game just to hear him again and again. I still get chills hearing the call after N’gog’s goal. “Liverpool’s day! They’re ALIVE again!” “And you will hear and feel the cheer all the way from the Mersey, to Manchester!” Maybe you all might consider me a rookie of this beautiful game, but that does it for me. I live thousands of miles away from Liverpool, separated by vast pool of water, but I felt right there, thanks to the commentating. And yes, Fox Soccer Channel…kudos. Kudos for letting the game run to it’s natural close. Hearing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, pulsating from Anfield, was really special.

  2. Gaz

    October 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    As mentioned, the issue with Liverpool is beating teams that “sit back” or games that don’t have the passion of a top four match. We’ve proved over the last year that we can and do beat any team in Europe. However, we need to be able to get that “lucky” goal in those bore-fests.

    On a good note, great win for the Reds. They even managed to do it without Gerrard. Lucas had one of his rare good games, Mascherano is a Pitt bull, and Carragher looked pretty damn good – I’d say he pretty much had Rooney in his pocket. Nobody needed to have Berbatov in their pocket – he was terrible.

    Hopefully this will spur them on to get some needed points in the league.

  3. brn442

    October 26, 2009 at 11:41 am

    You’re right – either he deserved a red or it wasn’t a foul.

  4. Great White

    October 26, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Carra didn’t deserve a yellow, he was at least running with Owen for a few steps, and Johnson was coming back behind him…Kuyt had the entire half and Vidic just tackled him!…I like Mascherano’s bullish style, but he does frequently deserve the cards…that said, the calls were missed both ways, as they are in many games, and Liverpool played the better game…Torres looks so slight but showed so much strength on that goal!

  5. Peter

    October 26, 2009 at 8:40 am

    The officiating was very good considering the intensity of the game. I don’t have a problem with Carragher getting a yellow card – the ball was not going straight towards the goal which is a necessity for a send off in that spot. If you look at the replay, you’ll see that Owen hit the ball and was going out wide (slightly), and that is enough to prevent the send off.

    Mascherano didn’t deserve a yellow card? That’s just wrong, he deserved both of them – first one for a late challenge and the second one for a high boot and a late challenege. Vidic’s first yellow was the most borderline of all of them, but he could have given that one for persistent infringement since that was probably the 6th foul against Torres. His second yellow was obvious.

    Evra’s yellow card for a tactical foul – no questions asked on that one.

  6. Tyson

    October 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    The officiating was absolutely terrible. Giggs was nudged and should have got a penalty. Mascherano shouldn’t have even got a yellow card, Carragher should have been off, Lucas should have got a card for his 4 fouls after his first warning and Evra should have got a warning before his card.

    It’s funny seeing the referee sending off Mascherano to reduce the shitstorm coming his way because of his crap officiating. The fact that he even gave Mascherano a yellow card is confusing. At best it was a warning.

    Now we are going to be bomarded with a few weeks of “Liverpool are going to win the Premier League” before they go on to lose and then everybody will be writing them off again.

    Newspapers love to talk about the big games but there is no such thing. All games give you three points each and thats that. It’s about who can play more consistently over the season not who can blow their load in one game and then lose several on the trot.

    • Gaz

      October 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm

      >Now we are going to be bomarded (sic) with a few weeks of >“Liverpool are going to win the Premier League” before they go on to >lose and then everybody will be writing them off again.

      No – I’m not that silly. We’ve got a long way to go but this proves that you can’t ever write Liverpool off (especially in October). There were some idiots even talking about Liverpool being in the bottom half.

      However, didn’t Manchester United lose four last year before winning the title, etc, etc, etc. Similarly, you can’t say Liverpool aren’t going to win the Premier League. 🙂

      >Newspapers love to talk about the big games but there is no such >thing. All games give you three points each and thats that. It’s about >who can play more consistently over the season not who can blow >their load in one game and then lose several on the trot.

      Yeah, because if Manchester United won you would say, “No big deal – there’s no such thing as a big game – three points, that’s it”. I don’t think so. It would be, “this proves we’re better” and so on.

      There are big games. However, you’re right – consistency wins the league. But beating up on the other 16 doesn’t feel as fulfilling as beating another top four, does it? It’s about pride… it’s about me being able to say to you: sure you beat up on Stoke and Bolton when I drew against them – but when did you last beat us?

  7. brn442

    October 25, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    The Match proves that on their day, Liverpool can beat anybody – brilliant for cup football, not for the grinding consistency needed for winning the League. Again Torres was the difference up front, without him today who knows where the first goal would’ve come from. LIVERPOOL NEEDS A QUALITY SECOND STRIKER. Saying that, the Reds played well as a team and fair play to them for staying in the title race, at least fo now.

    How can the ref can give Carragher a yellow for a foul and not a red as the last man back is bizzare.

    Good for Ngog keeping his compsure and taking his shot brilliantly, hopefully it results in some added confidence, he needs to spend more time in the gym and put some pounds on.

    Well done to Arrellio for playing that unfamiliar position effectively.

  8. eplnfl

    October 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Excellent comment about the broadcast crew. They loved a drab first half and had to pick out the American owners being happy with the score. Hey have English owners in the Prem done any better lately. No, and certain American’s seem to do very well at Man U.. Enough with the blame it on the Yank’s stuff. Owners are cut from the same cloth no matter where they come from. Why do we not hear about the oil rich owners of Man C. not being able to get the team into the top 4. It’s time for a special comment by Kartik.

    As for the game itself a great individual effort by Torres to score the first goal. Really outstanding, the pass was not all that on target and the speed of Torres made the play. Is Man U. maybe a step slow on defense? Has the travel just been too much for Man U. It was pointed out correctly that Liverpool did not play that bad midweek and the balloon game was a freak result due to hot air! Many of us would like to bury Liverpool, it’s owners, and it’s manager but it’s a bit too soon.

    The bigger results from the weekend maybe what we saw from Stoke, Fulham, and Arsenal. Stoke knocks off the Spurs, ok, lucky but it will turn out to be a real bad result for the Sours when they look back on things in May. Fulham, guys how do they do it. Maybe they have a manager that you have to admit knows how to get the most out of his talent. As we spoke about last week, The Gunner’s are right there. All the attention goes to Man U, Chlesea, and LFC, but who is right there but Arsenal.

    While Saturday put people to sleep Sunday was a great day in the EPL. Maybe a key one when the story of the season is written.

    • The Gaffer

      October 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm

      Good points Lou. It was an edge-of-the-seat match and quite enthralling. And a much better Sunday than Saturday. The comeback from West Ham was impressive. So too was Fulham against Manchester City.

      You’re right. When you look back at the weekend of results, there were several surprises: (1) Stoke beating Spurs, (2) Liverpool beating Man United, (3) Fulham and West Ham nicking points against Man City and Arsenal respectively, and (4) Bolton beating Everton.

      Aston Villa will be kicking themselves that Sidwell gave away that silly penalty. If they had won, they would have leapfrogged into joint third place.

      The Gaffer

  9. Martin S.

    October 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Vidic and Macherano deserved their share of 2 yellow cards each, but what about Carragher tackling down Owen who would’ve been free with Reina? What about the missed penalty call in 1st half when Carrick was brutally brought down in Pool’s penalty area?

    Of course, Liverpool were much more up for it and had a point to prove. United didn’t ever turn up to the occasion.

    • The Gaffer

      October 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      Yes, I thought Carragher should have been sent off. But I also thought that Liverpool should have been awarded for a penalty the way that Dirk Kuyt was manhandled in the box. That was my point about not focusing too much on the fouls – because there would be arguments by both sides of missed calls. Nothing we can do about it now, it’s in the past and Liverpool were deserved winners either way.

      The Gaffer

  10. freemo

    October 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Was ever so glad to see that FSC kept with the feed rather than going to a quick commercial.

    And you’ve got 75% of LFC’s back 4 right. Our LB is actually Insua, the young Argentinian. Aurelio was playing LM for this game.

    • The Gaffer

      October 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm

      Good catch freemo about Insua. Aurelio was all over the pitch today and has had two brilliant games in a row.

      The Gaffer

  11. Raatzie

    October 25, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    “For me, Liverpool could have put this match safely out of the reach of Man United if only they had been more clinical in front of goal. There were several occasions where either Dirk Kuyt or Yossi Benayoun took one too many touches on the ball instead of shooting at Edwin van der Sar.”

    Exactly right. And that’s been a season-long issue.

    Agree with you on the ref. Missed one big call each way (Berba pulling down Kuyt in the box, and I thought Carra deserved red). Otherwise superb.

    Agree about the announcers as well. Stop whining about Lucas all day long. 1. We know he sucks. 2. He hasn’t sucked as bad recently. 3. He played well today.

    Still need 9/9 in the CL, but even a draw today ends their Prem season. Enjoy the three points and build off of them.

    Aquilani w/the kids in the Arsenal Carling Cup game?

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