Frustration and disappointment for Liverpool fans as their team dominated possesion, territory and half-chances but United went away with the three points, winning 1-0 at Anfield once again.
Pepe Reina – 6
Didn’t have too much to do, can’t be blamed for the goal.
Alvaro Arbeloa – 6
Offered little going forward but was pretty solid and worked hard.
Sami Hyypia – 7
One of our better players, along with his centre back partner. Was up for the challenge against Rooney and Tevez and matched them more times than not.
Jamie Carragher – 7
See Hyypia. Drove us on in the last 15 minutes.
John Arne Riise – 7
Surprisingly played well in my opinion, didn’t play as many long, hopeful balls up to the front two as he normally does and kept possesion well. Very strong and solid defensively and one of our biggest threats attacking wise. He would surely have missed out to Finnan or Aurelio if either had been fully fit but he put in one of the better performances. Kept Ronaldo quiet with some good challenges in the first half, so much so that Ferguson switched him in the second.
Yossi Benayoun – 5
Before the match I wondered if we we’re missing Jermaine Pennant at all – and after I can say we definitely are. Benayoun is not of a high enough quality to get close to getting in any of the other big four’s teams and he showed why today. Failed to make any impression on the game and often outmuscled. Should he have pushed up off the goal line – making Tevez offside – like his fellow man on the post did when the ball was played back for Rooney?
Javier Mascherano – 6
The Monster is often our most passionate player thesedays and he showed it again today, really pushing on to try and get the equaliser and sometimes losing his cool. Didn’t do much wrong but the rest of the midfield failed to do their jobs making his much harder for him.
Steven Gerrard – 6
Deployed much deeper than normal and often alongside Mascherano rather than more advanced than the little Argie. This is the problem when we play a top team and Gerrard is in the middle – he doesn’t influence the game the same way he does against smaller teams or how he would if he had less responsibilites in the middle. This is why Id prefer to have him on the right and Alonso and Mascherano in the middle – alas Alonso wasn’t fit so obviously this couldn’t be the case today.
Harry Kewell – 4
Before kick off im sure most fans would have looked at the two teams and Liverpool fans, like me, would have smiled at a rejuvenated Kewell (how many times have we said that?) up against Wes Brown – United’s weakest player, surely? Yet Harry rarely had any effect in attack, was often knocked off the ball easily, lost possesion and didn’t get a cross in. He was ultimately at fault for the goal, losing the ball up field which resulted in the corner. Not a good game.
Dirk Kuyt – 4
Words cannot sum up how disappointing he was today. I’m not a big fan of Kuyt’s anyway but he was absolutely bloody awful. Failed to hold the ball up, offered no attacking threat, lost possesion countless times… So often people credit him for ‘running his arse off’ but theres many thousands of others who would go out there and run themselves into the ground but offer little skill or creativity – me for one.
Fernando Torres – 6
I thought this game was going to be one for Torres but I have to admit he lost the battle with Ferdinand – as much as it pains me to say. Often over run the ball or tried to beat too many players and lost the ball in the process. Frustrating day for him.
Ryan Babel (Sub) – 7
Our biggest attacking threat in the last 20 minutes without a doubt. Positive and powerful and showed skill and creativity – which was so lacking from the rest. Almost hit what would have been a memorable equaliser.
Peter Crouch (Sub) – 6
Not a lot to say.
Fabio Aurelio – 6
Rafa Benitez – 6
The unchanged line-up didn’t surprise me, I’m sure if Finnan or Alonso had been fit it would have been a little different. One thing that did annoy me was obviously the goal but the manner we conceeded and, although im a ‘fan’ of the zonal marking system, I’ve raised the point about the lack of a player even close to the edge of the box a few months ago.
We conceeded at Reading (Carling Cup) when the ball was cleared and because we have nobody on the edge of the 18 yard box their player had time and space to shoot when the ball was cleared. I said in the forums back then that this is dangerous and that we should have somebody there to pressure anybody on the edge. I’m sure if I noticed something as simple as that then it would have been easy for Ferguson to notice it too and therefore exploit it the way they did.
We’ve played all the big three at home now and taken just two points. If we are to mount a serious title challenge it’s certainly going to be tough.
Guide: 10 – World Class, 9 – Oustanding, 8 – Very good, 7 – Good, 6 – Average, 5 – Poor, 4 – Awful.