Kuyt Hat Trick Means Liverpool Aren't Quite "Off Their Perch" Just Yet
With Andy Carroll on the bench, Suarez starting, Gerrard in the side despite a rumoured injury, Dalglish and Fergie squaring up in the dugouts, no Ferdinand or Vidic for United... Most people would have chosen one of those to steal the headlines, how wrong our predictions were. Meanwhile working his arse off in the background as always was none other than Dirk Kuyt, the Dutchman stole the show in a confident Liverpool victory!
It felt this time out the Liverpool could actually turn United over. After the disappointment of the dodgy penalty in the FA Cup, we could all see we held out the United attack well and with a few more matches under his belt Dalglish easily improved on the 1-0 defeat.
Due to injuries what seemed to be the favoured three at the back was scrapped and the King fielded Aurelio, Skrtel, Carragher and Johnson in defence. Maxi was also included after missing his chance to start against West Ham.
Immediately it was clear Liverpool had a tactical plan set out. I know i keep going on about it (and so do the millions of forum members and Twitter users) but that old favourite pass and move is most certainly back. Under Hodgson and even under Benitez i have never seen anything quite like the movement and ability to get into space of not just one player but the whole side like yesterday.
Benitez had his methods and we never had many problems getting the ball around the field but the way we ran rings around United yesterday, well Kenny has to be credited along with mastermind Steve Clarke.
Suarez, Meireles and Lucas were probably the masters in this ethos and what a game from all three!
A lot of people were questioning before kick off the chosen United midfield. Carrick perhaps being a surprise inclusion. Berbatov and Rooney seemed lost without a link to central midfield and there was way too much reliance on Giggs to whip in threatening balls.
The first real moment and one of very few highlights for Manchester United was a Berbatov attempt from a distance, his effort thankfully hit the post but after Suarez had missed a decent chance just minutes before, at this point the game had a feel of a United bombardment and Liverpool regretting not taking their chances.
It got worse for the Reds as Fabio Aurelio who was just back fit got injured and had to be replaced by the big Greek. Again for a side to have shuffled a defence so early in the game and shifting Carragher to right back, Kyrgiakos and the defence as a whole did brilliantly for the 90minutes.
Just after the half hour mark and a strong looking Liverpool got their break through. A frankly beautiful mixture of skill and sheer effort from our new number 7 Luis Suarez saw him leave three United players for dead in their own box, his effort went under Van Der Sar and was on it's way in when up popped Kuyt to secure the goal.
Even Kuyt realised he had just nicked an extremely easy goal and robbed Suarez after all his hard work but as the team unit we are these days both lads celebrated emphatically.
(I was right miffed at Kuyt at this stage because i had Suarez 2-1 on! Haha)
Barely time to catch a breath and Liverpool were at it again. This time however Kuyt was gifted by United and not a team mate. A supposedly defensive header from Nani found it's way back into his own box and an awaiting Dirk Kuyt was able to send the ball home with a pretty easy header.
2-0 up already and we hadn't even reached half time, this was fantastic! Not only were we confidently in the lead but Fergie and his United side for once looked like they had no tricks up their sleeve.
In the run up to the half time whistle it was the highlight of the match for the referee...
Two incidents both in quick succession could have easily seen two players sent off but Phil Dowd i think did well over the 90minutes and at least he kept his consistency.
A late Carragher tackle on Nani, clearly with no intent was the first incident. Nani at first actually got up after his regular routine of theatrical diving. Of course he only got up to run and moan to the ref. At this stage i must admit it just seemed like another one of his boy cries wolf episodes but after seeing the image of his leg it was a bad injury. Surely he didn't need to cry though?
Anyway, Carragher apologised and it's his own fault the referee, players, crowd, even his own team mates didn't think he was injured because he dives on the floor like a loony match in, match out. Maybe now he'll learn his lesson??? (Hernandez replaced the injured Nani)
The next incident was Rafael having a hissy fit basically, a poor challenge on him which got him riled ended up seeing him put a poor challenge in himself. After Skrtel and Rafael began a spat, both sets of players began pushing and mouthing off but hilariously Dowd just stood, arms crossed, as if to say, "When you're ready ladies!" Fair play haha!
Second half and Fergie's half time inspirational speech clearly didn't work. Maybe he couldn't sound out the words with his rapid extra chewing after that first half...
Again Liverpool worked great as an actual team. Whenever one player had the ball there were three in space as an option, it was fantastic to watch.
This combined with a solid performance from the defence meant that United, even though their efforts were picking up were still unable to get anything past Pepe Reina.
Just past the hour mark and Liverpool were awarded a free kick. As Luis Suarez stepped up it was clear he fancied this one. A lovely free kick but it looked like Van Der Sar had it covered. Unfortunately for Van Der Sar a bumbled ball splayed out to international team mate Dirk Kuyt who with another tap in completed his hat trick at the Kop End!
For a man that's never scored a hat trick and never scored against United, it's not bad going is it that? Talk about a poacher too, Kuyt certainly made sure he was in the right place at the right time yesterday, his three goals were scored within a combined total of 7yards.
It just goes to show how important spacial awareness within 90minutes can be and for Liverpool if it wasn't Kuyt yesterday it would have been Meireles, Suarez, Maxi... The list was endless and it's nice to see the availability of players in the box.
The Reds were running away with it now and at 3-0 up against bitter rivals Manchester United, what better time to bring on your British transfer record breaking signing? Andy Carroll replaced Raul Meireles to the roar of the Anfield faithful. His first touch was a half decent headed effort but the Geordie was denied by Van Der Sar.
Manchester United after 91minutes of poor, drab, ineffective football did what they always do though and managed to get a late goal. Not that anyone really cared, even their fans couldn't be arsed, I'm sorry but if i was at Old Trafford and we scored even at 3-0 down with a minute to go I'd still go mental haha.
A header from Hernandez got Fergie's side a consolation goal which in fairness i don't even think they deserved.
It didn't matter though because Liverpool were the ones set to party. A superb game from each player, there were no real complaints at all. Manager Kenny Dalglish seemed to enjoy his victory and his beaming smile after a rendition of "Happy Birthday" from the fans was a perfect symbol of the day.