Liverpool missed too many chances and clinical United’s luck continues
Brendan Rodgers axed Belgian keeper Simon Mignolet and replaced him with Brad Jones for the trip to Old Trafford and also changed to a 3-4-3 system. The timing could not have been worse, it played straight into United’s hands and Louis van Gaal’s team, who have now won six games in a row, were 2-0 up at the break, even if United’s second goal should have been disallowed. Explaining his decision to switch keepers at the end of the match Rodgers said: ‘Simon has been fine, I spoke to him after the Basle game in the Champions League and he understood it. Brad Jones didn’t have much to do and he’s ending up picking the ball out of the net three times. This will be for an indefinite period. In my first year Brad did well and sometimes coming out of the firing line can help. I just felt after Basle game that there was a chance to make the decision. I can’t fault the commitment of the players because they gave everything.’
Despite the emphatic score line, United keeper David de Gea was man of the match for a string of excellent saves from Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling and the Liverpool manager added: ‘We didn’t deserve to lose, but we need to be more clinical. Their keeper got man of the match and that tells you everything. We created more chances against United than in the last five or six games but we are disappointed with the first and the third goal that we conceded. The second one was clearly offside.”
Towards the end of this remarkable game at Old Trafford, David de Gea managed to make a save from Mario Balotelli while looking in the opposite direction whilst at the other end, Brad Jones’ goalkeeping for Liverpool was characterised by one moment when he dived the wrong way and another when he fell over. Not surprisingly, Manchester United scored on both occasions.
Old Trafford, Liverpool managed to lose while playing the better football. They managed to create the better chances and take none of them. As odd as it sounds, this was an afternoon that actually served to remind us that Liverpool still have some very good players. Their great rivals, on the other hand, were only sporadically fluent. At times there was very little flow to their football but Louis van Gaal’s team, however, broke with purpose on some occasions and devastatingly on others.
Football is a cruel game at times, and fortune is a serious component, of United’s 6 wins at least 3 came from them being played off the park, and a great deal can be said of Liverpool’s season so far but that they have been lucky.