Reds Fail To Make A Comeback At Old Trafford
All eyes were on both teams strikers for this one as Van Persie and Suarez both started up front. An injured Rooney was unavailable for Manchester United whilst Liverpool kept new signing Sturridge on the bench. Also back for Liverpool was Fabio Borini and for a change there was an abundance of fire power present for the Reds.
Liverpool began the game very much on the back foot, considering beforehand pundits and fans alike suggested our midfield would boss the possession, it didn't exactly go to plan. United were the ones retaining the ball and on several occasions when Liverpool intercepted they quickly lost possession.
With the United keeper untroubled throughout the first 20 minutes it was Pepe Reina who soon had to spring into action. A cross from Patrice Evra was met by none other than Robin Van Persie who slotted the ball home easily and gave his side the lead.
It was no surprise to see Van Persie score and after the start we had we deserved to be behind. Liverpool really struggled in the first half and things were made worse when it was clear several players were having an "off day" at exactly the wrong time. Allen had (being kind) a bit of a nightmare, Sterling wasn't as effective as he usually is, Johnson was also slipping up and Andre Wisdom had a hell of a lot to deal with, it was clear that a substitution or two would be needed for the second half.
Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Daniel Sturridge replacing Lucas Leiva whilst United replaced Ashley Young with Valencia. As I've mentioned before I'm quite excited by Sturridge's potential I just hope he fulfils it but I was certainly happy when Brendan decided to bring him on to link up with Luis Suarez.
Unfortunately for Liverpool Suarez was also having no luck, I was convinced before the game that he would find the back of the net but nothing seemed to fall right for the Uruguayan, it certainly wasn't through lack of effort but it just wasn't happening, things perked up though when he had Sturridge to work with.
A goal from United just after the 50 minute mark dampened Liverpool renewed spirits a bit, the Vidic header which he nicked off Evra gave United a buffer but it still felt like the Reds were capable of finding a goal, the pressure had increased immensely now and finally we were beginning to trouble De Gea.
3 minutes after the United goal and Liverpool had found their consolation. A shot from Steven Gerrard was parried away by De Gea but unfortunately for him Daniel Sturridge was encroaching immediately and he scored his second in two appearances for Liverpool. The most important thing to note with this goal for me was the fact it wouldn't have been scored in the first half. Liverpool recently have had no players in the box, Suarez is left with so much work that most of the time he can't wait in there because he's trying to create the attack himself, Sturridge however, well that's what he's there for, a poacher. I was very pleased with his performance on Sunday.
With a goal now boosting their more positive performance Liverpool desperately searched for an equaliser and again it did seem possible, United were breaking ever so slightly and all we needed was one good chance.
Borini and Henderson were brought on in an attempt to bolster our attack and it definitely worked, chances fell to Sturridge who hit the side netting, Johnson and Suarez who did well to even keep the ball at his feet on occasions but the Reds just couldn't find that all important goal.
Remarkably nobody was sent off during the game and neither was there a penalty. As always Liverpool put in a respectable performance and it certainly seems despite the loss that we're slowly moving in the right direction now, there's no shame in losing to Manchester United at Old Trafford, it's just bloody annoying! But with players coming back to fitness and our new boy Sturridge coming in to play I think we can begin a push now to the end of the season, however the Arsenal and Man City games are going to be very tough.
Next up for the Reds is Norwich at home.