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Category Archives: Liverpool
Martin Skrtel rescued a point for 10-man Liverpool against Arsenal
Well, that was good fun. Liverpool played their best match since their win over Tottenham in August and will be both aggrieved not to have given their overall dominance, but also relieved to have escaped with a point after equalising when they had 10 men. Ultimately they were let down by not taking their chances and by not holding on to their lead just before half-time. But they will be pleased with the way that they played and the fight that showed after going behind. A draw takes them above Everton and into 10th place. As for Arsenal, the two goals aside, that was one of their limpest performances of the season. They have good players but they could do with developing a spine. Thanks for reading. Bye.
Fun and games in the Liverpool box, but after a Welbeck flick, Sakho gets the ball away, and Michael Oliver blows his final whistle!
90 min+10: Here come Arsenal, though! Cazorla races through the middle and shoots from 20 yards! Jones beats it away but only to Monreal, whose ball back into the middle is desperately hacked behind by Skrtel! In comes the corner and…
The ten men of Liverpool equalise from their 10th corner! What spirit! What fight! What a team! Lallana swings it in from the right and Skrtel redeems himself after his part in the first Arsenal goal by rising highest and absolutely bulleting an unstoppable header into the bottom-left corner! Szczesny didn’t move! Oh, Arsenal.
90 min+5: Gerrard smashes a shot towards the bottom-left corner from 30 yards. Szczesny pushes it away and Lallana wins a corner. But his delivery is dismal.
90 min+4: Arsenal bring on Nacho Monreal for Alexis Sanchez.
90 min+3: Cazorla is booked for a foul on Someone. Then he responds to accusations of playacting by lifting up his shirt and showing off a big cut on the side of his stomach. Ouch.
90 min+2: Nine minutes of stoppage time! Nine minutes! Nine minutes of stoppage time for Liverpool to get back into the game! Come on lads! Come on! Come on, the lads! You can do it! That’s what everyone reckons inside Anfield. And then Borini, already on a booking for dissent, catches Cazorla on the chest with a raised boot and he has to go! For crying out loud. They don’t help themselves.
90 min+1: There will be nine minutes of stoppage time as a result of the Skrtel injury. The volume inside Anfield rises. Sterling cuts inside from the left and aims for the near post. Szczesny tips it wide. Can Arsenal hold on?
90 min: Borini is booked for a fit of pique, chucking the ball to the ground, after a throw-in goes Arsenal’s way. It did come off Cazorla last. Arsenal use up more time by bringing on Joel Campbell for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who appears to have injured his groin.
88 min: Steven Gerrard just did a slip. Ho, ho, ho! But Liverpool are pressing hard. Borini runs into the Arsenal area from the right and has men in the middle. However he aims for the near post and Szczesny shuffles the ball behind. A waste of a promising situation. Szczesny then relieves the pressure on Arsenal by claiming a high ball. Good, authoritative goalkeeping.
87 min: Szczesny makes a good save from a Borini header. Sterling chipped a cross into the middle from the left and Borini headed goalwards from six yards out, but it was close enough for Szczesny to lean back and palm the ball over the bar. Arsenal subsequently survive a couple of corners.
85 min: “What strange new sport is this I am watching?” says Fraser Thomas. “It will never catch on.” It’s actually quite impressive Liverpool are going to lose this game.
84 min: Lallana does brilliantly to pluck a searching ball out of the sky on the left, check back inside and then play a reverse pass through to Coutinho. But from an awkward angle, he shoots wide. Or was it an attempted cross? Either way, it went wide. “I have tried Christmas baking while watching footie before, which always had disastrous results,” says Anna Lioufas. “This year, I thought I would bake while following the game on MBM. So far, I’ve only burned two trays, which is a great improvement on my usual performance. Shame Liverpool can’t say the same.”
82 min: Arsenal bring on Francis Coquelin for Olivier Giroud, who enrages the Liverpool crowd by walking of very, very, very…
81 min: Rickie Lambert replaces Kolo Toure for Liverpool, who are going for it. And why not? As it stands, they’re going to end the weekend 10 points behind fourth-placed West Ham.
80 min: Arsenal give the ball away. Sterling beats Chambers. His shot is a work of nonsense. Liverpool could do with some swagger training.
77 min: “This game seems like an air guitar tournament,” says Kevin Healey. “Are these two teams pretending to play or are they pretending they don’t know how to play?”
I bet Brendan’s team-talks have featured a guitar at least once.
76 min: Now Coutinho wastes a chance from the edge of the area with another tame finish. Borini set him up with some good hold-up play but Coutinho’s effort was disappointingly indecisive. “Mr Roper and I can, no doubt, agree to differ,” says Roy Allen. “We can agree that Liverpool’ defence was rubbish last season and remains so. And they should sign Victor Valdes. Season’s greetings!”
75 min: Lucas goes this close to equalising for Liverpool! That’s right, this close, not this close, or this close, or even THIS close. This close. That’s how close. He ran on to a pass from Henderson and the ball sat up invitingly for the shot from inside the D. He slashed it a little and it looked like the ball was going to swerve away from Szczesny and into the right corner; instead it drifted inches wide.
74 min: Fabio Borini on, Lazar Markovic on. The response to his introduction is … let’s call it muted.
73 min: Welbeck is fine to continue. Meanwhile Fabio Borini, Son of Brendan, is going to come on for Liverpool.
71 min: Now Welbeck is down with a head injury after being caught by Sakho. The physio is on.
70 min: Szczesny immediately throws the ball back to Liverpool. There’s that famous Arsenal game management! It leads to another heroic shot from Super Stevie. This one’s a bit better but it’s still an easy one for Szczesny, who’ll probably be feeling a little relieved.
69 min: Super Stevie bobbles a shot straight at Szczesny from the edge of the area. It was never really on.
67 min: Sterling darts across Debuchy on the left but despite the Arsenal defender over-committing himself and going to ground, Sterling wonks an ambitious effort wide from a tight angle. If he’d just nicked it round Debuchy, he probably would have won a penalty. Oh well. Rickie Lambert is warming up.
66 min: Liverpool, seeking an instant response, carve Arsenal open on the left. Lallana pulls a pass back to Coutinho, who’s unmarked in the area, but he wants too long and is tackled before he can shoot. The ball runs through to Szczesny. “Tell Mr Allen that I am content to assign 20% of the blame on that goal to ‘Safe Hands’ ( (c) J Steinberg),” says Lou Roper. “If he is not content with that we can settle it like idiots, sorry ‘gentlemen’ in the Virtual Reality Venue of his choice! But at the risk of invoking ‘festive spirit’, I don’t think we’re very far apart on this issue nor are the defensive shortcomings of Liverpool FC under B Rodgers worth breaching the holiday peace. Happy Christmas to all !”
I was in the middle of writing that Arsenal were showing signs of improvement in this half and now look, they’ve taken the lead with their first coherent attack. Gibbs found Giroud on the edge of the area and he turned a pass through to Cazorla on the left. He cut it back to Giroud and he swept it under Jones from six yards out with his left foot. You really don’t have to do much to score against this Liverpool team.
62 min: Szcznesy embarks on a kamikaze charge outside his area as Sterling sprints on to a pass from Lallana. Sterling, presumably possessed for a fleeting moment by a foreign player, handles the ball around him and suddenly Arsenal are exposed, the officials missing that transgression. Sterling is forced wide on the left and chips a cross into the area, where Gerrard leaps through the air and sends a diving header under pressure just over the bar. There would have been a hot debate if that had gone in.
60 min: Liverpool counter from the Arsenal corner, a lovely volleyed pass from right to left picking out Coutinho. He burns forward and then leaves it to Markovic, whose inviting comeback reaches Lucas on the edge of the area. He blazes miles over the bar. If only it was, well, Gerrard. “At halftime I was going to send you the exact same quote that Mike MacKenzie did,” says JR in Illinois. “I understand that there are many skillful players out there but somehow they are combining to give off a strong whiff of incompetence. Which one of these teams is The Red Lion and which is The Dog and Duck?”
59 min: Skrtel clips Giroud’s heels on the left and gifts Arsenal a cheap free-kick. That leads to a corner.
57 min: Skrtel is up on his feet again, a bandage around his head. He’ll continue and the game can be resumed.
56 min: “Tell Mr Roper I’d be prepared to allocate Jones 5% of the blame for the goal,” says Roy Allen. “If he cant accept that I’ll see him outside at the final whistle to settle this like idiots. I mean men.” There’s the Christmas spirit!
55 min: Skrtel is having stitches inserted but he’s sitting up now, which is good to see.
54 min: Skrtel is still receiving treatment. The stretcher is not on, though. “Hi Jacob, I’ve rarely missed a chance to follow an MBM since the 2002 World Cup, yet still have 4 kids (although 2 of them have chosen to follow their mother’s family and support MUFC, so I’m not sure they count for a West Ham dad),” says Daniel Barnett. “It may well be the case that having 4 of them around is what sends me to seek seclusion in the MBM parallel universe.”
51 min: Martin Skrtel is down with a head injury, accidentally trodden on by Giroud, who had pushed him over. He’s bleeding from the back of his head. The medical staff are on. “We ‘desperadoes’, pace Roy Allen, do not ‘blame the goalkeeper for every goal’,” says Lou Roper. “The concession of the Arsenal goal, as I noted, was a collective shower, but Jones neither sought to ‘command his area’ nor did he seem to anticipate the looping header that resulted from the head tennis.” Fight! Fight! Fight!
49 min: Cazorla, the very epitome of anonymity up to this point, diddles his way inside from the left and has a pop from 20 yards. Over it goes. “No adoption needed, I created my offspring fair and square,” boasts Matt Dony. “Like Liverpool last season, a lightning incursion leading to scoring. Boom! (Of course, since then it’s been more like Liverpool this season. Rubbish.)”
48 min: Gerrard’s firm free-kick is headed out as far as Coutinho on the edge of the area but his shot is wild. “Loved Coutinho’s post goal self-rant,” says Ian Copestake. “It seemed to go on for ever. Disappointed it did not go on long enough to bring the half-time whistle before that Arsenal goal.”
47 min: A stepover from Sterling flummoxes Debuchy, who steps across him and earns a booking. Liverpool have a free-kick to the left of the Arsenal area.
46 min: Off we go again. Surely there has to be an improvement from Arsenal in the second half? “I understand natural tendency of the fancy-dan pseudo-footballers we call “outfield players” to blame the keeper for every goal that is conceded but blaming Jones for the Arsenal goal is particularly desperate,” says Roy Allen. “How about Lucas and Skrtel who were brushed aside by Arsenal players. Arsenal players!!! I ask you!”
Looking at the Arsenal goal again, I can’t quite work out why Brad Jones didn’t just come off his line. The ball was in the air for an age.
“I feel sorry for Flamini,” says Joe Lewis-White. “Surely he is all over the place due to being the only truly defensive minded central midfielder in this 442 Wenger has switched to mid-game. Liverpool are clearly strong through the middle (last season’s success with a narrow diamond is proof) and with Countinho having a good game I can imagine Flamini must be feeling hard done by.”
“That was an inanely weak attempt by Brad Jones,” says Fraser Thomas. “Surely Mignolet cannot be that bad?”
“Even MBMers are allowed to adopt kids,” says Ian Copestake.
Really. How would that process go?
“Your mention of Torres made me yearn,” says Matt Dony. “Suarez leaving was obviously disappointing, but it made me realise I never loved him like I loved Torres. I made my 3yr old son watch a video of all Torres’ Liverpool goals, and I’d truly forgotten just how many very, very good goals were in there. Still. Borini on the bench.”
Hang on. Hang on. Hang on.
Well, Liverpool will be deflated.
Arsenal get out of jail, Liverpool self-imploding from a set-piece on the stroke of half-time AGAIN! The ball was flung in from the right by Sanchez and a spot of head tennis ensued. Liverpool couldn’t get it away and Flamini kept the ball alive, heading it to the far post, where Debuchy rose above Skrtel and sent a powerful header past Jones! That’s dismal from Skrtel. So submissive. To be fair, it’s a fine response from Arsenal.
Arsenal get exactly what their first-half atrociousness deserves and it’s a goal that sums their performance up. The ball is needlessly given away AGAIN in Liverpool’s half and Henderson seizes on it, finding Coutinho on the edge of the area with a sharp pass. He’s been in this position so many times already but hasn’t been able to come up with a killer touch. This time, he does. He drops a shoulder to beat his man and arrows a brilliant shot in off the the inside of the right post with his right foot! Anfield erupts!
43 min: Liverpool are up in arms as Flamini clumsily clatters into Lallana on the right. The man is all over the place. He’s on a booking already but Michael Oliver is lenient enough not to give him a second yellow, perhaps reasoning that he’s probably as much use to Liverpool on the pitch as he would be off it.
40 min: Do you like pictures? Er, who doesn’t? Click here. But be sure to come back to this page once you’ve finished.
39 min: Arsenal’s midfield evaporates again and Sterling is able to gallop through the middle and tee up Markovic, who leans back and skies his shot from 20 yards into the top tier of the Anfield Road End. Oh for some ruthlessness! Oh for Luis Suarez! “Regarding ifs and buts Jacob, can’t help but wonder if arsenal would be overrun if they had all the center midfield greats that wenger was worried about a fabregas return “killing”………..probably….,” says Rob Lowery.
36 min: Brad Jones, hitherto unemployed, has to wake up and speed out of his area to get to a through-ball before Giroud and boot the ball out of play. That’s the danger for Liverpool. They have to make more of their superiority, else you fear that they’re going to be on the end of a sucker-punch from Arsenal.
35 min: Szczesny makes an excellent save to deny Markovic after poor defending from Chambers! A cross-field pass from right to left should have been cut out by Chambers but his touch was loose and Markovic was alert enough to pounce on it. He zigzagged into the area, through on goal, but he couldn’t direct his poke past Szczesny, who diverted it behind for a corner.
34 min: In fact, it’s 4-4-2 from Arsenal, Welbeck joining Giroud up front, Flamini and Oxlade-Chamberlain in the middle, Sanchez on the left, Cazorla on the right.
33 min: Arsenal have switched Sanchez to the left flank. He’s contributed almost nothing from the right so far.
30 min: Liverpool have their first shot on target, Coutinho skimming one straight at Szczesny from 30 yards. “Arsenal are like mannequins,” Gary Neville observes on Sky. Flamini is being overrun. Ifs and buts, but what you can’t help but wonder what Liverpool might have during this period if Sturridge had been fit.
29 min: Markovic scoops an impudent pass over Chambers’s head and Arsenal are grateful that Mertesacker is in the right place to hack clear with Sterling closing in.
27 min: Some of the pretty patterns Liverpool are weaving have been very nice to watch but what they really need with now is a cutting edge. They’re yet to create a proper chance, which may be a worry given their overall dominance. At some point, Arsenal do have the players to take advantage. Not that they’re doing anything at the moment.
25 min: Coutinho slides a pass through the heart of the Arsenal defence, looking for Sterling, but Szcesny is out quickly to boot it clear.
23 min: Sanchez runs at Sakho, who sticks out a leg, inviting the Chilean to go down. Michael Oliver seems unimpressed but then, to Liverpool’s amazement, awards a corner. He rather fudged that. The corner is a waste of time, though, scuffed straight to the first Liverpool defender.
22 min: Markovic loses the ball inside Liverpool’s half and suddenly Arsenal pour forward. Oxlade-Chamberlain finds Welbeck on the edge of the area but Toure steps in. The danger’s not over, though. A cross reaches the head of Giroud but his team header is straight at Jones, who collects it easily.
20 min: Arsenal have had 13% of the possession in the past 10 minutes. On the plus side, unlike last season, they’re not 4-0 down.
19 min: Markovic drives inside from the left and picks out Lallana on the edge of the area. Time seems to stand still. Markovic runs around the outside of Lallana but it’s a decoy run, one that allows Lallana to duck inside, on to his left foot, and shoot. Deflected. Wide. Corner. Nothing comes from it.
18 min: By the way, Arsenal have lined up with Debuchy in the middle and Chambers on the right of their defence. I should probably have told you that 18 minutes ago. “Yes, to be fair, Downing should be ‘in the XI’; drop the lightweight Coutinho (although he should do well against lightweight opposition such as today’s) and move Sterling to #10,” says Lou Roper.
17 min: It’s a little too intricate from Liverpool. For all their possession, they haven’t been able to pick the Arsenal lock yet. If only they had a Fernando Torres. Now there’s a thought for the January transfer window.
14 min: Gerrard’s corner from the right goes out and back in. Goal-kick to Arsenal. Still, it’s not the worst corner from an England player this year.
13 min: Flamini is booked for trying to step round Coutinho and win the ball, but tackling from the wrong side succeeds only in catching the Brazilian. From Gerrard’s free-kick, Liverpool win a corner, Debuchy heading behind.
12 min: Lallana, an impish little scheme, exchanges passes with Markovic and spins brilliantly on the edge of the area, before sending a warning shot not too far over Szcznesny’s bar. Arsenal were guilty of not tracking Lallana’s run. Liverpool are the better side at the moment. Arsenal haven’t got going at all.
11 min: I wonder if Brendan Rodgers would have reconfigured Big Andy as a centre-back this season.
10 min: Liverpool do the crossing thing. Unfortunately Andy Carroll plays for West Ham now.
8 min: They deal with this one comfortably enough, however, Cazorla plonking the ball straight into the grasp of Brad ‘Safe Hands’ Jones, who promptly chucks the ball straight back to Arsenal. “That ‘foreign coach’ spiel from Rodgers is worrying,” says Matt Dony. “If things go back downhill, it could become a ‘Sam Allardici’-shaped stick to beat him with. And so far this season, I’m really fed up of the beatings.”
7 min: Giroud pops up on the left and backheels the ball into the path of Gibbs, who’s sent sprawling to the turf by Lucas. He escapes without a booking. But Arsenal have a free-kick on the left. Liverpool, you may have heard, struggle when they have to defend set-pieces.
6 min: Liverpool have started at a brisk pace, bossing possession and moving with slick purpose, although Lallana can’t bring a long pass down on the right, the ball running behind for a goal-kick.
4 min: Alexis Sanchez has a touch of the ball and, momentarily, Liverpool’s hearts sink. Not to worry, though, he’s offside!
3 min: He can fancy it all he likes but Gerrard whips the ball past the right post. Arsenal get away with it. But that was a worrying moment for the visitors, the way Liverpool streamed forward on the counter-attack.
2 min: How refreshing to see that Arsenal have learnt their lesson from last season. Mathieu Flamini disappears in the middle of the pitch and allows Phillipe Coutinho a free run at the backtracking Mertesacker, who hangs out a leg and brings down the flying Brazilian just outside the D. Steven Gerrard fancies this.
And we’re off! With the strains of You’ll Never Walk Alone floating around Anfield, Liverpool get the game underway, defending the Kop in the first half. Let’s see how well they manage to defend it. It’s been their achilles heel this season. “How about this XI for our match today v ‘Gooners’: 1 Reina 2 Kelly 3 Johnson 4 Skrtel 5 Agger 6 Lucas 7 Shelvey 8 Gerrard 9 Carroll (begun to knock them in for West Ham) 10 Coutinho 11 Sterling?” says Lou Roper. “Oh. Is there any chance at least that Father Christmas might whisk away Manquillo and Allen to fill some naughty club’s stocking?” You’ve left out Downing.
Here come the teams, the pair of them needlessly decked out in tracksuit tops. Despite that nonsense, they’re greeted by warm applause by a forgiving Anfield crowd. “Good afternoon Jacob, and season’s greetings,” says Simon McMahon. “Hope you’re wearing your hipster Christmas jumper, maybe a mince pie and glass of egg nog at your side too. Let’s hope it’s a case of both defences bearing gifts today. 4-4 please.”
A Christmas jumper? I don’t think so. It’s pretty warm in Guardian Towers.
@JacobSteinberg one of the only times Arsenal looked rampant this season was against Galatasaray’s hastily cobbled together 3 man defence
On the other hand, they were beaten by Manchester United’s three-man defence. Who knows what to think?
Brendan speaks. “Our performance [against Bournemouth] was excellent, we had good creativity, our passing was crisp and fast. It’s been a struggle this season, trying to find the balance in the team. Hopoefully in the last few weeks or so, I’ve started to see that.”
Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, confirms that Hector Bellerin is injured, hence the return of Calum Chambers, and the Arsenal manager reckons that his side can exploit Liverpool on the flanks. Step forward, Alexis Sanchez!
This is very creative.
Some arsenal lads making a ‘banner’ on the train here. Thierry Christmas. pic.twitter.com/voT8XKXKNS
“A pressure game for all and sundry both managers & both squads of players under massive pressure,” John McEnerney notes. “Sad to say it but both these clubs could end up like both Milan clubs gone to the dogs not challenging just making the odd half decent cameo like Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction & True Romance. This could be an absolute cracker but I don’t think so. Arsenal to sneak it with the winner from one of their pint sized magicians.”
Well now hang on. Look at him go!
Liverpool, masterfully assembled by King Brenny: Jones; Toure, Skrtel, Sakho; Henderson, Lucas, Gerrard, Markovic; Coutinho, Sterling, Lallana. Subs: Jose Enrique, Lambert, Moreno, Manquillo, Mignolet, Can, Borini.
Arsenal insert Calum Chambers into the heart of their defence: Szczesny; Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanchez, Cazorla, Welbeck; Giroud. Subs: Podolski, Walcott, Monreal, Martinez, Campbell, Coquelin, Maitland-Niles.
All hail The Great Brendinho! Seriously, all hail him. Now. This is not a test. He really wants us to hail him and things could get testy if we don’t. Look: “The other night it was a British coach playing 3-4-3 so he has probably thrown the team together,” The Great Brendinho spake. “‘He has played seven midfielders?’ If it was a foreign coach it would probably have been seen as a wonderful tactical idea of playing the game. ‘Sterling playing through the middle – what is he doing? [Lazar] Markovic out wide?’ But that is the key for us – trying to get the players in position who can make us effective.”
Aren’t humans needy? This, remember, was The Great Brendinho speaking after a spectacular 3-1 dismantling of Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup, so just imagine how much praise he’d be showering himself with if he’d come up with this masterplan for a game of genuine significance, a Champions League final, say, or maybe a title-deciding game against, ooohhhh, I don’t know, Chelsea at home. Lest we forget, the use of the same formation three days earlier against Manchester United saw Liverpool depart Old Trafford with their tails between their legs after a 3-0 defeat, so perhaps Rodgers shouldn’t get too carried away. After all, there’s every chance Arsenal are going to ram Rodgers’s trumpet down his throat while he’s blowing on it. And then he’d choke on it.
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Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling has won Europe’s prestigious Golden Boy award for his outstanding performances in 2014.
The accolade is presented to the best player under the age of 21 in a top-flight league in Europe and is voted on by journalists from across the continent.
The Arsenal manager’s perseverance paid off in the summer when he signed Alexis Sànchez, who could have joined Liverpool
Arsène Wenger has admitted that if things had worked out differently last summer then Alexis Sánchez would have been lining up for Liverpool against Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday.
The Arsenal manager moved decisively while he was in Brazil working as a World Cup TV pundit to close a £30m deal for Sánchez from Barcelona. The Chile forward has been Arsenal’s player of the season so far, scoring 14 goals in all competitions and making light of any settling-in difficulties.
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• Tottenham play Sheffield United in other last-four game
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Liverpool will play Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup while Tottenham Hotspur take on the League One side Sheffield United.
Liverpool won 3-1 at Bournemouth on Wednesday and Chelsea put out a strong side to win by the same margin at Derby County on Tuesday.
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80 min: Bournemouth sub: O’Kane off, Pitman on. “Sakho makes Liverpool watchers nervous because he looks ungainly, but the numbers don’t lie: he’s actually good with the ball, especially by the club’s defense’s standards. He should get more minutes” storms Jason B Jones. Yes, he is good with the ball – he’s good at everything, as I said in my original entry, it’s just that sometimes he can undo that good work with deeds that really are goofy (and don’t just look ungainly). But there’s plenty to work with there and I agree that he should be used much more. I’m a fan of his.
78 min: It just might be that Liverpool have navigated their way out of the ‘hanging-on phase’. Composure has returned to their game and they knock the ball about and threaten to deprive Bournemouth of any meaningful possession.
75 min: Are Liverpool fans ready to start debating who they would like to get in the semi-final: Chelsea, Tottenham (who are 4-0 up on Newcastle) or Sheffield United? Or is that being disrespectful to Bournemouth, not to mention Liverpool’s capacity to completely bottle it in the last quarter of games?
73 min: Liverpool sub: Coutinho off, Can on. Rodgers battening down the hatches. “Where is all this nonsense about Sakho coming from?” thunders Dave McKenna. “His passing accuracy is excellent (approx 93℅ last season), among the highest in Europe. Also, last season he made a total of 1 defensive error that lead to a goal opportunity.” You see, what you’re doing there is placing too much emphasis on blunt stats and not enough on evidence gleaned from actually watching matches: if Liverpool watchers say he makes them nervous, it’s because he has committed far more than one awkward mistakes, even if the stats-gatherers have missed them.
71 min: Ritchie prods wide from close range! Liverpool appear to have entered the aforementioned hanging-on phase …
70 min: After a fine run in from the left by the substitute Ryan Fraser, Gosling curls a lovely shot from the edge of the area … and it bounces out off the post!
69 min: “Stevie G is in Hollywood-ball heaven here,” tweets Dave Buchanan. “That is until we enter the desperately hanging on phase…” And on that note, Henderson does his utmost to earn a yellow by chopping down Ritchie as Bournemouth sought to launch a counter. The ref opts for leniency.
67 min: Oh Raheem! Sterling botches his hat-trick by blemming wide from six yards after a sublime flick from Lallana!
65 min: Shoddiness at the back from Liverpool, as Toure and Henderson allow O’Kane to meet get between them and meet a cross with a header. It’s off-target.
64 min: A perfectly-timed tackle by Sakho on Wilson means Bournemouth fans are appealing for a penalty for no good reason.
61 min: Liverpool seem determined not allow Bournemouth to start thinking they could get back into this. The visitors are penning their hosts back as they seek a fourth. “Why all the hate for Sakho?” wonders Luke McManus, who may be hanging around with the wrong sorts, because there’s been no hate for Sakho here. “Compared to Lovren he’s Billy Costacurta. Lovren might actually be worse than some of the notorious centre halves of the Evans era – Babb & Kvarme, I’m thinking in particular.” I remain confident that Lovren will come good. Ish. He had an unhappy start to his time at Lyon and proved his worth once he got his bearings.With a bit more focus on defending from the Liverpool management, and a better keeper behind him, he’ll tighten up.
Another fine goal. It was a good move down the right by Bournemouth and Ritchie pulledthe ball back towards the edge of the area. Gosling ran on to met it, commendably deided not to go down in the box despite being clipped by a backtracking Liverpool player, and then fired beneath Jones. And, unlike when he he scored for Everton against Liverpool a few years ago, he’ll be able to watch it when he goes home because the television company, not being ITV, didn’t cut to commercials just as he shot!
55 min: Another sweeping Liverpool attack, this time initiaated by Gerrard. who pinged a ball into Coutinho. The Brazilian clipped it on to Lallana and then scampered forward to receive it back, but his shot from the edge of the area flew wide. “I think Sakho is OK except when he has the ball and has time to pass it, those occasions make me very nervous,” confides Roger Theberge.
53 min: Markovic to Sterling, and back to Markovic again. The Serb curls a reasonable effort wide from the corner of the box. “First Glen Johnson goes out with groin tweak against United and now Lovren follows suit with his own groin twang<” notes Peter Oh. “ I’m pleased to see Sakho in a uniform and not shopping for souvenirs in central Bournemouth, but I really do miss Daniel Agger.”
Another splendid goal. Toure broke up a Bournemouth attack and then pinged a long and low ball forward to Lallana. The former Southampton player (and Bournemouth youth) helped it on to Sterling, who took it in his stride, slalomed past the last defender and fired beneath the keeper and into the net!
48 min: A Liverpool corner is flicked on at the near post and bounces across the goal and out on the other side.
47 min: Sakho is an intriguing player. He has nearly everything required to be a top defender, but also also an unfortunate knack of committing comedy clangers. Something for Rodgers’ defensive coaches to work on then. Oh.
Liverpool substitution: Sakho on for Lovren, who has apparently picked up a groin injury. Let’s not have any jokes about the night getting better and better for Liverpool ….
A good half from Rodgers’ team, as they played with confidence and style and, most of all, capitalised on their good play with two fine goals. A little luck also went their way as Bournemouth squandered two decent chances. The hosts came back into the game a bit but look vulnerable to Sterling-led counter-attack, though how long Sterling will be kept on for remains to be seen. Rodgers must be tempted to give the lad a break now.
45 min: Lallana trips Smith as he tries to burst between the former Saint and Henderson. Freekick at the corner of the box. Stanislas floats it towards the back post. Skrtel heads it behind.
43 min: Stanislas skins Henderson down the left before delivering a decent cross. Jones tlls his defenders to leave it and then catches it easily. Are you watching, Mignolet?
42 min: Markovic proves his suitability for Liverpool’s defence by hurriedly donking an attempted clearance straight up into the air, spreading panic. Skrtel tidies up.
40 min: Sterling scampers into the box as Liverpool decide to push forward again, but the keeper hurtles off his line to smother the danger.
38 min: Bournemouth slowly work their way forward, and Smith creates a shooting opportunity for Wilson with a clever reverse pass. But Skrtel sticks a foot out to divert the ball behind for a corner. The set-piece is cleared to the edge of the area, where Gosling get hold of it with a fierce shot. Jones dives to his right – the correct way! – but the ball doesn’t reach him, as Gerrard plays the heroic captain and blocks it bravely.
35 min: Liverpool have eased off a tad and allowed Bournemouth to pass the ball about a bit, albeit in innocuous areas.
31 min: “I’m suddenly confused,” admits Matt Dony. “Last season was great, but yielded exactly no trophies. If (and, yes, it’s a big-ass ‘if’) Liverpool go ahead and win the League Cup, will that make it a good season? Because, so far, it’s not been too much fun. I don’t want to put too much stock in the old Milk Cup, but hey, a Cup is a Cup.” What do you think, Liverpool fans, would winning the League Cup be preferable to finishing fourth in the Premier League? I’m guessing the club owners would say ‘no’: after all, they jilted none other than Kenny Dalglish in 2012 despite him winning the League Cup (and reaching the FA Cup final).
29 min: Bournemouth spurn a glorious chance to get back into the game, Kermorgant blasting over from 10 yards after a pull-back from the right!
As if to prove my previous point, Markovic sends Liverpool further ahead with a cool, clever finish. He started the move with a pass from the left to Coutinho. Elphick paused to appeal for offside – he may have had a case but you don’t just stop! – and when Coutinho’s pull-back fell to Markovic 16 yards from goal, the Serb placed a tasty sidefooter into the net
26 min: “So was your guess correct: Is Markovic at LWB?” wonders Bryan Tisiniger. “If so, how has he looked so far?” Yes he is, Bryan, although he’s spending most of his time on the front foot as Liverpool have established total control. He’s doing well so far, finding plenty of space and using the ball wisely when he gets it.
25 min: As Liverpool continue making their hosts chase the ball in vain, the 1,300 visiting fans belt out their ode to Brendan Rodgers.
22 min: having completed their celebrations, Liverpool relieve Bournemouth off the ball again and resume their dominance. Things are going swimmingly on the south coast for Rodgers’ team: might this be a turning point in their season? Don’t answer that just yet, because there’s still plenty of time for a turning point in this game …
That’s a wonderful goal. After a tidy exchange on the left, Markovic lofted a splendid ball to the back post. Henderson nodded back across goal and Sterling dived in front of his marker to guide an excellent header into the corner of the goal.
18 min: Look away now if you don’t want to know that Bentaleb has given Tottenham a 1-0 lead over Newcastle in tonight’s other match in this tournament. What? Oh, sorry about that.
17 min: Liverpool are bossing this. Bournemouth are having to show plenty of focus and dynamism to hold things together as the visitors pull them all over the park and probe relentlessly.
15 min: Gerrard spanks a superb pass wide to Coutinho, who kills it on his chest and then lifts the ball over Francis and sends a cross to the back post. Where no one was waiting for it – and there you see the downside of this Liverpool line-up.
13 min: Liverpool’s amorphous formation is posing some problems to Bournemouth, with both Lallana and Sterling continually eluding defenders. You get the feeling Liverpool are going to create numerous chances and again it’ll be a question of whether they can take them. And, of course, whether they can avoid imploding at the back.
11 min: Toure bashes a long ball into the channel for Lallana to chase. Not quite the Rodger Way but it yields a throw-in by the Bournemouth corner flag, giving Liverpool a platform for attack. And they do mount a decent assault but another two blocks from home defenders see off the danger.
10 min: A fine tackle by Francis stops Markovic from gliding into the box.
8 min: Liverpool were looking swish as they pinged the ball about, right up to the point where Sterling faked a pass but fooled only himself, allowing a grateful opponent to stride forth and pilfer the ball. Bournemouth romp forward anew, with Francis floating a decent ball in from the right. Toure clears.
6 min: Coutinho skitters down the left and into the box, then cuts a tidy pass back to Gerrard, who whacks it first time from the edge of the area. Blocked!
5 min: A superb save from Boruc thwarts Lallana, who let fly from 25 yards after a dinky interplay involving Sterling and Coutinho. This is shaping up to be a grand game!
4 min: What a miss! There was pandemonium in the Liverpool box, if you can believe that, and Wilson poked the ball through Skrtel’s legs before somehow pulling a shot way wide from five yards!
2 min: Liverpool knock the ball about for a minute as they try to deflate their hosts’ uppitiness. But as soon as Henderson mislays a pass, Bournemouth tear forward. Smith nutmegs Gerrard, if you please, and then fires off a shot from 25 yards, which Toure blocks.
1 min: Liverpool kick off, with Coutinho rolling the ball to a freshly-shaven Sterling. Liverpool then set off down the left with gusto but they lose the ball within seconds and the home side try to run right back at the them but Skrtel intervenes. A high-paced start and no mistake!
The teams enter the arena, Bournemouth in red and black, Liverpool in banana yellow in reference to the potential for a cliched slip-up here.
“As a Liverpool fan I’m concerned by all signs pointing to a famous win for Bournemouth in today’s League Cup tie,” frets Peter Oh. “10 league games without defeat for the home side; a quaint, likeable seaside locale; a charming manager; Plucky Cherries versus historic/massive/ginormous/mighty Reds. But if there’s anything to be learned from Nottingham Forest’s recent £250,000 lottery win on the heels of being put on the naughty step for financial shenanigans, wins sometimes go those who deserve them least. I’m betting it all on Red!” You know Bournemouth wear red, right?
Rodgers has just explained the thinking behind his team selection to Sky, ie to build on the promising display against Manchester United: “I looked at the game at the weekend and that was probably the most chances we created for a long time. I was pleased with certain aspects of the weekend … The players look comfortable in this system so hopefully we’ll get a result here.”
So who wants to guess the formation that Liverpool will play here? 3-7-0? 3-4-3? 3-2-3-1-1? 3-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1? Wasn’t there a point a few weeks ago where Rodgers seemed to be going back to basics? Now Rodgers seems to have resolved that if he’s going to go down, he’s going to go down his way. Which is admirable, in fairness. But is that Markovic at rampaging left wingback? This is going to be fascinating …
Rodgers has decided not to play a specialist striker but he is undeniably going for it here. That is what he believes to be his strongest available team, with no concession being given to the looming Premier League clash with Arsenal. It’s a sign of the importance hat Rodgers attaches to progressing in this tournament that even Raheem Sterling’ has not been rested: the 20-year-old has certainly looked like he could do with a break recently but that’ll have to be for another day, apparently. Bournemouth, meanwhile, have made six changes to the side that walloped Cardiff last week to keep the Cherries top of the Championship.
Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cargill, Smith, Ritchie, Gosling, Stanislas, Kermorgant, Wilson
Subs: Camp, Cook, Daniels, Arter, MacDonald, Fraser, Pitman
Bournemouth are one famous win away from extending their best ever run in the League Cup, and one defeat away from being able to concentrate on their promotion charge from the Championship. Liverpool are one win away from the League Cup semi-final and one infamous defeat away from being catapulted into another vortex of despair and prophesies of impending doom for Brendan Rodgers and his motley crew of technicians, enigmas and down-on-their-luck chancers. So this match matters, readers, and the good news is that you don’t have to do anything to follow it except sit there and let good old-fashioned words fill your eyes like prose versions of celebrity backsides. We’ll have team news soon too, for extra thrills.
Before all that, why not find out how Eddie Howe has been biding his time prior to kick-off? Here the Bournemouth manager tells Stuart James how he gets his kicks.
- Latest updates as Man Utd face Liverpool at Old Trafford
- In pictures: the best images from Old Trafford
- Live scores: follow all today’s games around Europe
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet: @NickAmes82
- Daniel Taylor: have Manchester United failed their fans over Rome?
90+1 min: Three minutes of added time to play.
90 min: Falcao hits it into the wall and his rebound attempt goes the same way.
89 min: Herrera is tugged down by Toure just outside the D. Free-kick, tasty position. Phil Jones off and Paddy McNair on in the meantime.
87 min: Lovely skill by Van Persie, who pulls a ball out of the sky, twists Toure inside-out and dips in a shot that Jones tips over.
86 min: De Gea 3-0 Balotelli! Crikey, the striker goes clear in the inside right position and should score but, once again, the ‘keeper does not commit too early and saves with his feet. It was a carbon copy of Sterling’s first-half chance.
84 min: Balotelli beats De Gea this time but his decently-struck 25-yarder goes a foot wide. He’s been a threat, to be fair. Gerrard is then booked for an earlier foul on Van Persie.
83 min: De Gea saves from Balotelli again, although this time the striker should have done better, making space eight yards out and seeing his shot dived upon. But the ‘keeper has really made a difference today.
82 min: And maybe he has a point. Lovren should have done much better for the third goal, as just one example. No composure or, it seems, authority in there at all. Who’s running the show in there?
81 min: Big statement from Gary Naylor on Twitter.
@NickAmes82 Collectively and individually, this is the worst Liverpool back five defenders I can recall in 40 years.
80 min: Markovic, yet to do anything for Liverpool, plays a really loose pass to Sterling during a moderately promising break. But this one will surely just play itself out now.
79 min: Falcao instantly tries to play Van Persie in but Jones is out sharply and, besides, the flag is up. Then Fellaini, who has played well today, dispossesses Balotelli.
78 min: Now we see Falcao, who’s fit enough for 13 minutes, in Rooney’s stead.
76 min: This feels like the kind of situation in which Balotelli gets sent off.
75 min: United scored their first goal within a minute of De Gea saving them, and their third goal within three minutes of the same.
74 min: Balotelli is booked, now, for a very petulant foul on Phil Jones.
73 min: Rooney’s attempt to find Van Persie unmarked in the box was prevented by Lovren, but his clearance was terribly weak and seized upon by Mata, who kept a wonderfully cool head to look to his right and find the Dutchman. With Jones off balance and out of position, the finish was straightforward. Game over.
71 min: A United change now. Herrera on, Wilson – pretty quiet – off.
71 min: Praise for Coutinho from Patrick Wills: “Is there a better player to watch in the league in full flight than Coutinho? Glides past players so effortlessly, it’s mesmerising.”
70 min: How Liverpool are two down here is anyone’s guess. Well, it’s not, because they have not been clinical and United have, but they have been the better team for almost all of this game.
69 min: Now Markovic replaces Moreno.
68 min: What a save by De Gea from Balotelli! Jones denied Sterling after he seemed to have got in again, but the forward recovered to lay back to Balotelli on the edge of the six-yard box. Balotelli’s shot was well struck but De Gea somehow touched it onto the bar!!
67 min: A few tackles flying in and Mata isn’t happy about being pulled up for one of them. Lazar Markovic is readying himself to enter the fray, meanwhile. As I type, Jones grabs onto a Young cross.
64 min: Close from Van Persie! Valencia, again, gets too much space on the right and, from his second bite of the cherry, crosses hard and low to Van Persie who diverts it just wide of the near lost.
62 min: Ashley Young, who has played quite well at left wing-back, stands his ground against Henderson well to win a goal kick. Bit of a rebirth for him of late.
60 min: Lovren pummels a shot of his own into Jones and Sterling has one blocked, too. Gary Neville offers some sage advice for them to shoot less but we all know what he’s thinking really.
59 min: “So what you’re saying is that it looks like a pub match?” asks J.R. in reference to the 54th min update.
Couldn’t possibly say.
57 min: Just the three men in the wall for this one and the ball is struck plum into them.
57 min: Fellaini, on a yellow card, concedes a free kick and Balotelli is over it. A long way out….
55 min: Wilson shows some confidence, though, with an ambitious 30-yard shot that he slices well wide.
54 min: This really has been a strange game. Neither side looks fluent, confident or particularly competent.
51 min: How does Sterling miss?! One on one with De Gea after – as he has threatened to all afternoon – seizing onto a wayward Evans backpass, he tries to go round him but finds the goalkeeper standing strong. Eventually, he shoots and De Gea blocks. Fine goalkeeping but he had to score! And how on earth are Liverpool losing here?
Then Rooney has a decent chance on the left of the area but it’s too close to Jones, who saves well. United’s first foray that hasn’t ended with the ball in the net, really.
49 min: Now Moreno fouls Fellaini, who is clutching his ribs and receives some treatment. Bit sneaky of a sneaky little jab from the Spaniard, that.
47 min: Chance for Henderson! Sterling gets to the line and dinks in a super cross from the left which Henderson, who has a perfect run on it, powers over the bar. Might have scored.
46 min: Balotelli’s first contribution is decent, wriggling past a couple of challenges and winning a free kick, which is crosses over his head by Coutinho.
He is on for Adam Lallana, who started well but faded.
Another of our men, Sachin, on Valencia:
Im by side where Valencia is playing. So much room he could lie down for a kip, get up when the ball is kicked forward & still be 1st to it.
And United….well….I think Mata’s goal was the first mention I’ve given him this afternoon and it’s been a similar story of invisibility for Van Persie and Wilson. They haven’t really got going, but still….
Liverpool have certainly been more technical, as Rodgers promised, and buzzy going forwards. Phil Jones has looked a bit shaky back there and Michael Carrick has had to bail his defensive colleague out once or twice. But there’s something missing despite the brightness. Mario? MARIO??
Not sure how, but there you go. United still look very loose, and still appear to be papering over plenty of cracks, but they’ve scored from their only two attacks of note – even if the second should have been disallowed – and struck at the heart of a Liverpool side that clearly lacks confidence. Yet the Merseysiders should have gone in front through Sterling just seconds before Rooney’s opener, and have had other chances. In general play, they’ve been the better team. But that’s how it goes when you’re on a bad run.
45+1 min: It’s headed out to Moreno, who indulges in a desperate 35-yard slash far over the bar. Too early for that, surely.
45+1 min: Liverpool win a corner, Coutinho tricking away down the right, and in the meantime Sterling is clutching his left shin.
43 min: Liverpool try to respond but Sterling’s header is saved by De Gea to his left. Then Rooney becomes the latest United player to go in the book.
42 min: It should never have stood! United put together their best passing move of the day so far, getting themselves out of some trouble at the back quite neatly before patiently working the ball to Young on the left. He checked inside, swung a cross in and Van Persie got a touch to it which meant that Mata, who had moved a good couple of yards beyond the last defender after the ball was put in, became well offside. He had a simple header at the far post, but that’s a big error from the linesman. He can’t have thought Van Persie touched the ball, but he flicked it on!
Good but also so very bad.
39 min: Young then gets very cross with Martin Atkinson’s – incorrect I think – award of a goal kick following a challenge with Jordan Henderson.
39 min: Valencia is again United’s only outlet of any consequence, making space for a fizzed low cross that Brad Jones dives into before Van Persie – who apparently is playing – can pounce.
37 min: Evans is the latest to be booked, for tripping Coutinho.
36 min: Worth emphasising that, 35 minutes in, United lead with what came from their only forward move of any note whatsoever. Much like Monday night.
34 min: Now Valencia is the man having the defend, as Alberto Moreno gets in behind but can’t quite control an awkwardly-flighted ball. It goes for a corner, after which Allen has a shot blocked.
32 min: Fellaini, who is using his body far better this season than last, is back to dispossess Sterling. Liverpool’s early zest isn’t quite there at the moment.
29 min: A yellow card for Allen now, who charges Valencia rather than letting him go on another run.
29 min: Rooney takes, inswinging, but Skrtel is in front of Brad Jones to clear.
28 min: Sterling is nearly in again – and clearly has a run on the rusty Jones today – but Carrick is cleverly in there to clear up. Straight down the other end and Ashley Young wins a corner….
27 min: Valencia gets more space down the right, by a distance United’s most promising avenue of attack, but crosses over Wilson’s head.
26 min: Toure comes on, and goes straight to the right-hand side of the defensive three. Wonder if that’ll disrupt anything. Liverpool, although losing, have been the better side here.
25 min: Glen Johnson is hurt, groin it seems, and we’re about to see Kolo Toure replace him.
23 min: Fellaini is back really well, deep inside his own box, to snuff out a Lallana run but the ball comes back at United and – CHANCE! – Sterling gets past a statuesque Phil Jones and, at an angle a bit tighter than his earlier opportunity, sees his shot repelled for a corner by De Gea.
22 min: Agricultural stuff from Jones on Coutinho, and a yellow for him. Liverpool are certainly lively going forwards but you can’t help thinking they’ll suffer from the lack of a focal point.
21 min: “Sacked in the morning,” is the home crowd’s (well, you’d assume it’s them) chant towards Rodgers.
19 min: United have given the ball away constantly, it must be said, and Coutinho has just been horribly wasteful with a hurried release down the left after Valencia’s error.
18 min: De Gea has to save again, this time from a Gerrard 20-yarder that deflects of Jones. He dives to his left and clutches tight.
17 min: Henderson looks to thread Sterling in and there’s space to do it perfectly, but he gets it wrong and Carrick intercepts.
17 min: How will Liverpool react to this? They had started much the better and could so easily have been a goal up. Rooney’s finish was good, although he rather oddly sent Jones the wrong way as if from a penalty.
15 min: Well, well. Valencia got past some awful, flaccid, weak ‘defending’ from Allen down then right and sized up a perfect cutback for Rooney to finish clinically into Jones’ left corner from 18 yards.
And that all came IMMEDIATELY after Lallana had played a nice reverse ball through to Sterling inside the area. Sterling, although on his left side, should have scored, but De Gea blocked with his legs, United broke and showed him how it’s done!
What a half-minute! Sterling had just missed a big chance at the other end…
11 min: Young passes back towards Evans and Sterling so nearly gets onto it, which would have put him clear on goal. Sterling then can’t tame a Coutinho ball down the left. United playing with fire a bit. It’s all quite avoidable.
9 min: It’s really hurried from United, still. They’re being forced into mistakes and can’t get on the ball inside Liverpool’s half. We do see Wilson try and get a run on Skrtel, as I type, but the defender gets the ball away.
7 min: United still to show anything and Liverpool’s front three are pressing them very high and very zippily.
5 min: ….which is poor from Gerrard this time, and cleared.
5 min: Now Lallana, getting away down the left for a second time, is scythed down by Fellaini and there’s the first booking of the game. Free-kick…
4 min: Loose ball from Evans not far outside his own area but Coutinho can’t make much of it. Rodgers will be content with his team’s beginning though.
2 min: It’s not a bad one and Gerrard finds an unattended Coutinho (I think) to nod down for Skrtel at the far post and, while it’s scrambled away, United don’t fully clear their lines for half a minute or so.
1 min: Bright start from the visitors as Lallana wins a corner from Phil Jones….
Liverpool, in yellow and shooting right to left as per the telly, start us off. Looking forward to this.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he’s “very confident”. The crowd sound in good voice. Gary Neville is co-commentating on this, by the way, so we’ll see how long it takes for Martin Tyler to ask him about pub matches.
So how do we see this one going, all told? Both managers have really shaken things up a bit, team-wise, whether through necessity or choice. I can’t really see beyond United here, myself. They’re not playing well but Liverpool’s selection doesn’t seem convincing to me despite Rodgers’ claim for a more technical, movement-based XI. United to win by two. There, I said it.
Rodgers on the match: “I just wanted to return to a more technical game. In the last 4 or 5 games we’ve looked to become a but more solid and we’ve done that, we’ve got some results. But I think we were moving away from the way we were creative over the past couple of years and now we’ve got to go back to what we do best.”
Rodgers on Mignolet/Jones: “I just felt we needed to change that area. Brad’s been very loyal in my time here as a number two and when he’s come in he’s done very well. I think the rest will do Simon good, coming out of the spotlight for a little while.”
Mike MacKenzie (as per below, not ‘Mike Mac’), emails a Liverpool view:
“I guess we’ll know in a couple of hours if Rodgers is a genius or an idiot given Liverpool’s lineup. At first glance I was sure he was the latter but after in-depth thinking of 2 minutes maybe he’s the former. Hope springs eternal and all that!”
An email from ‘Bren’: “The Liverpool subs bench as listed contains Can, Balotelli, Markovic. Is this the first example of a proper sentence on a subs bench? i.e. Can Balotelli mark Ovic? If Ovic was a footballer…and happened to be playing for the opposition…etc etc”
Two problems with this, Bren. The first would be that I’m not sure the surname ‘Ovic’ actually exists. It would be akin to simply being named “Mc” or “Son”. The second: I’m not sure anyone would be sufficiently optimistic to ask that question of Balotelli’s defensive capabilities.
Van Gaal, talking to Sky: “I had to change at the last moment because Rojo was injured yesterday in the training session. That’s the reason why Jones is playing.”
On Wilson: “I think we need Wilson in this match.” Yeah, but why? “Speed.”
Interesting nugget from Jamie here. Rojo was injured in training and this means Van Gaal has had to take something of a gamble:
Was told P Jones could only play today in emergency (Rojo’s injury) so hope is for #mufc he doesn’t break down…
“I have played five tournaments (in a row – he means World Cups and Euros) now, and based on those, in the period after it was always quite difficult to get straight into your flow, straight into your form. You try everything but it was a tough start,” Robin van Persie tells Geoff Shreeves of his early-season form or lack thereof.
Ahmer Israr is (it seems) a United fan who fancies some revenge:
“It’s time to payback the scousers for the humiliation we were given last season. Prediction: 5-1 win for United, with Falcao, RvP, Fellaini, and Captain Wazza on the scoresheet. Only real threats in their team that I can think of are Sterling and Markovic, due to their pace. On the other hand, our entire forward half of the team should strike fear into their hearts.”
6 – Robin van Persie has netted six goals in his last nine Premier League appearances against Liverpool. Pest.
Well, he was their matchwinner at Southampton on Monday after some iffy recent form. After getting a bit lucky, too.
Not too bad for a pub match lineup, all the same. Apropos of that, do you know who you had a stint with what used to be my local pub team in Ipswich? Ruel Fox, that’s who. A real pub team, I mean. The Man on the Moon. Apparently he played for another pub side 40 miles north, too, once upon a time.
Absorbed all that? The other key lines here are that Wilson does, indeed, start up front for United despite Falcao apparently being fit, with Johnny Evans back in for Paddy McNair and Phil Jones returning in place of Chris Smalling. Marcos Rojo is out, so they’ve reshuffled a bit.
Liverpool, in replacing Rickie Lambert with Adam Lallana, don’t really go in with a recognised striker. Will that allow Raheem Sterling to do what he does best in a “false nine” kind of role? Is Rodgers shifting deckchairs on the Titanic?
Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Evans, Young, Carrick,
Fellaini, Mata, Rooney, van Persie, Wilson. Subs: Falcao,
Januzaj, Lindegaard, Ander Herrera, Fletcher, McNair, Blackett.
Liverpool: Brad Jones, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno,
Henderson, Gerrard, Allen, Coutinho, Sterling, Lallana. Subs:
Toure, Lambert, Lucas, Mignolet, Can, Balotelli, Markovic.
There are rumours flying around that Simon Mignolet has been dropped.
I know he’s not been great this season but has Mignolet done anything wrong in the past few games that would merit dropping him now?
Here, meanwhile, is some fine reading on Liverpool from Paul Wilson. Can they summon up the wherewithal to emulate last season’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford? Probably not.
Our man in Manchester mulls over the (imminent) United team news:
Had Wilson in my team to start this one ahead of Falcao because of how he played last time: interesting to see how LvG goes…
Some pre-match reading for you here in the form of Danny Taylor’s always-excellent column, which should be food for thought where United are concerned.
This ‘MBM’ phenomenon is catching on rather, isn’t it? Getting called into the office to cover pub matches these days – scandalous, you might say, that the internet is carnivorising even the grass roots of our beautiful game. Anyway, always happy to give something new ago so welcome, friends, to the Dog & Duck v the Red Lion. Nice of them to delay kick-off a bit, because we all know pub matches are meant to start at 10.15am, but presumably it’ll allow the hangovers to clear, the big monster at the back to get a Maccy Ds down him, and a few more dog walkers to mastermind a canine-produced hazard or two in the goalmouths. Etcetera and so forth.
Here we go then, and we’ll see just how attritional this one ends up being. Manchester United have, by hook or by crook, managed to win their last five without really convincing while Liverpool have prevailed in just two of their last seven league fixtures and, of course, are now out of the Champions League. All of which puts the home side third and the visitors in ninth – so if this goes according to form then we might be talking about wine bar v Wetherspoons.
Kick-off: 1.30pm GMT: Nick will be here shortly with the teams. In the meantime, here’s Jamie Jackson’s preview:
David Moyes’s branding of Liverpool as favourites against Manchester United at Old Trafford for last season’s edition of this fixture hardly enamoured the Scot to fans. In Louis van Gaal they now have a manager to believe in and he “welcomes” Brendan Rodgers’ side seeking a six consecutive win. The Liverpool manager is feeling serious heat due to average domestic form and being knocked out of the Champions League and a victory over the auld enemy would be a fair fillip. Jamie Jackson
Kick-off Sunday 1.30pm
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