14 December 2014

Liverpool 0-3 Manchester United

Rooney 12'
Mata 40'
van Persie 72'

The differences between the two sides was perfectly encapsulated in the 12th minute. Liverpool had started with a completely different system featuring pace up front and Liverpool had started well, mainly thanks to the return of high pressing in United's half. That good play culminated in a 12th-minute break between Lallana and Sterling, ending with the latter one-on-one with De Gea from seven yards out. De Gea made the save.

40 seconds later, United tore down the pitch. Valencia, up against Joe Allen and Adam Lallana as Moreno failed to get back, nutmegged Allen to go clear down the right. Neither Gerrard nor Coutinho tracked Rooney's run from deep, his shot from the top of the box perfectly placed, with Brad Jones diving in the opposite direction just to add an extra level of haplessness to the situation.

Manchester United have natural goalscorers. Liverpool do not. Last season aptly demonstrated how having fearsome goalscorers can paper over other failings. Last season is long, long, long gone.

Over the course of the match, Liverpool had six outstanding chances to score, arguably better than anything they've created over the last month. Three for Sterling, three for Balotelli. All six from deep inside the box, four with the Liverpool player was one-on-one with the keeper, and that doesn't include a free header from Jordan Henderson from 10 yards out that was off-target. David De Gea saved all six. Sure, two of those chances came after United were already ahead by three. But Liverpool had an awful lot of excellent opportunities to score today, and Liverpool couldn't take a single one of them. And while De Gea was deservedly man of the match, it's not as if any of the six – aside from one on Balotelli – was an especially difficult stop.

Meanwhile, Brad Jones dove the wrong way on two of United's three goals. We've already covered the mistakes on United's opener, Mata was three yards offside on the second, and Liverpool were cut open on the break when piling men forward for the third, with the added bonus of a failed interception from Lovren who subsequently played van Persie onside.

You could make the argument that this was Liverpool's second-best performance of the season. I'm not necessarily sure that's the case – Liverpool wasn't bad in the 1-3 at City, Liverpool deserved all three points in the 1-1 draw against Everton (notice how Liverpool failed to win either of those matches too) – but it wasn't far off. Both Sterling and Balotelli got into good scoring positions; Sterling, Gerrard, Markovic, and Lallana all demonstrated more creativity than we've seen of late. Liverpool started quickly, Liverpool pressed well.

And Liverpool still lost 0-3 to their biggest rivals. Because Liverpool couldn't finish the excellent chances they created and Liverpool still does very dumb things in defense, not helped by a terrible decision from the linesman on the crucial second goal.

So even if Liverpool were better – and better is very much a relative term – Liverpool's strikers and Liverpool's defenders and Liverpool's goalkeepers are not very good, and certainly not as good as Manchester United. And that's why Liverpool lost. And it's why Liverpool will continue to lose matches until those issues are rectified, whether by continuing to tinker with personnel and formation, whether by bringing back currently exiled or injured players (*looks at Sakho, looks at Borini, looks at Sturridge*), or whether it's in the January transfer window.

But Liverpool really need to fix things soon.

Or else...


Sean said...

Good stuff as always. No one bar Brendan Rodgers understands why Sahko can't get in ahead of Lovren and Skrly.

Anonymous said...

Lovren came in as a £20 mil supposedly commanding center back and it's so obvious now that the squad would have been miles better just keeping DAgger. Lovren is good for gifting the opposition one or two goals every game he plays. He could have done anything with that ball. Trap it, blast it out of bounds, anything. And he plays it right to Mata then plays RvP onside for an open net simple score. There is nothing worse. When he starts we may as well be 0-1 down. Bench him. Send him to Siberia. Sell him for 50 bucks. Trade him for DAgger. Just don't play him.

Grobelaar is blaming Migs for us conceding so many goals? Is he serious? Really Bruce? Gerrard should NEVER again play DM. Never! That's the big hole in our defense. We conceded 50 goals last year mainy because of this. Play Lucas at DM and watch how many less goals we concede. It's so dang obvious.

Creating chances and scoring goals are very different things. We don't have a goal scorer. Not even one that can convert big chances with any effectiveness. We need to focus firstly on conceding fewer goals. It's as simple as playing a real DM and 2 good center backs. Lovren and Gerrard do not fit here at CB and DM. Never will.

Got embarrassed at OT. And rightly so. Jones in goal. Ridiculous. Gerrard at DM. No. Just no. Lovren on the pitch. Big no. Lallana was our best player. Why sub him? Brendan needs to bite the bullet on Lovren. Might be "his guy", might have paid big for him, but he's not good enough. Find 2 from Skrtel, Kolo and Sakho to form a competent partnership.

The season is quickly degenerating into a lost cause. We better get a goalscorer quick. Need a January purchase + Sturridge back in form and fitness. The defense can be fixed with what we have. But, if we don't get a goalscorer, it's as good as over. We've played most of these 15 games without one. It's been tough as nails to accept that we are a mid table team without that. Time for some drinking. Christmas time is almost here.

Vercingetora said...

I take exception to the partial blame directed to Gerrard. The not tracking back was all on Coutinho and it has happened more often with him than I care to remember.