Liverpool beat Manchester United 1-0 at Anfield to cap their best start to a Premier League season for 19 years.
The first northwest derby of the 2013/14 season was won by Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. A lot has happened since the last time these sides met in the league. Manchester United have a new manager for the first time in 27 years. David Moyes came to Anfield with his Evertonian background and started a new rivalry with Liverpool in this game. Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, was facing his own problems of having to continue his project of building Liverpool’s tarnished reputation.
Liverpool started with a 4-4-1-1 formation with Daniel Sturridge the lone striker up front. Newbie Iago Aspas started in the hole with Coutinho, Steven Gerrard, Lucas and Jordan Henderson completing the midfield. The defence missed the injured Kolo Toure, who was replaced by the fit-again Martin Skrtel. His centre half partner was Daniel Agger with Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson as wing backs. Simon Mignolet’s reassuring presence between the Liverpool posts continued. Luis Suarez continued his 10 match suspension period, this being his 8th match.
Manchester United started with a similar formation with Danny Welbeck supporting star striker Robin van Persie up front. Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick played in the middle of the park; but there was a surprise on the wings with Ashley Young playing on the left and Ryan Giggs on the right side of midfield. Phil Jones continued in his right back position. Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand completed the defensive line up in front of shot stopper David de Gea. Wayne Rooney suffered a gash on his head during training and didn’t make the squad, while super-sub Javier Hernandez started on the bench.
Liverpool took the lead through Daniel Sturridge’s flick at Daniel Agger’s header from a Steven Gerrard corner in the 4th minute. Manchester United tried to get back into the game and while they had more possession and corners, with equal amounts of shots as Liverpool, they were unable to break the home team’s dogged defence. Sturridge was excellent throughout the game – not at his shooting best, but at his centre forward play. After getting the lead, Sturridge dropped deep to receive the ball and bring his teammates into the play. His counterpart Robin van Persie was off colour however, and missed a chance to level things up.
The game was feisty with Tom Cleverley, van Persie and Skrtel getting involved in minor fracas during the game. Liverpool pressed United well when they lost possession and prevented United from playing their usual fast and fluent direct game. United had a case for a penalty when Welbeck thought he was fouled in the box by Aspas but referee Andre Marriner dismissed it. The introduction of Nani and Valencia was made to increase tempo but United were not allowed space to play by the Liverpool defence.
Post Match Reaction:
Brendan Rodgers was pleased with the result.
Rodgers said “Our mentality was key. We didn’t play as well as we have and Manchester United played some really good football, but our defensive mentality gets better all the time. The resolve we have in the group was evident. The players have been outstanding. We worked hard in pre-season to get this start. We have four from four and we are getting the rewards for how hard we’re working. I am so proud of them.”
David Moyes was satisfied with the performance but clearly unhappy with the result.
Moyes said “I thought we played really well. Liverpool were resolute and made it hard for us to score. We maybe didn’t quite create the best with the crossing. We got two or three opportunities in the second half and were just a little bit unfortunate that we didn’t take them. We will try and do it (sign players before the transfer window closes), but from what I saw of the players, I’m more than happy with the players I’ve got. I thought they played really well, probably the best we’ve played this season.”
Daniel Sturridge played well and got the goal, but it was Martin Skrtel’s solid defensive performance that got him the man of the match title. Skrtel and Agger marked van Persie out of the game and the Liverpool midfield pressed and crowded out Manchester United’s play and made sure there was no way their rivals made a way back into the game.
Stats courtesy: Squawka.com