Manchester United were on the receiving end of a humiliating defeat to arch rivals Liverpool, their expansive style in particular gave too much space for Torres at the other end.
The title may still seem like going to Manchester United but this victory at least gives a glimmer of hope that the Premiership season is still alive. After an intriguing start to the league where Liverpool were the early pace setters and Hull surprised all, the league campaign has petered out to an almost drab. The Reds met United in what was billed as the ‘title decider’ but with this victory we are not any closer to knowing the answer.
Sir Alex Ferguson started with the partnership of Tevez and Rooney who with their interchangeability and dynamism started the stronger which was confirmed in taking the lead. However the two failed to exert enough influence later on in the the game as Liverpool defended resolutely and tirelessly to shut out the space in front of the back four where the two operate. Ronaldo was also kept quiet as Riera sought to double up on the Portuguese winger and if he did manage to cut in, the wall of Mascherano and Lucas were their to cover.
The equaliser from Torres was a crucial goal. United felt it was undeserved and almost attacked as if they were chasing the game because of the feeling that they went behind. Their expansive style may have been part of their downfall as this allowed Torres too much space up front without many bodies back to defend. When United attack, it is like they are playing a 4-2-4 and when they push more bodies forward with the full backs bombing forward leaves them vulnerable. By pushing right up the pitch, Manchester United put unrelenting pressure on the oppositions resources and suffocate play. It is a great form of defence but when it doesn’t work leaves large gaps in front of their defence. Therefore it is a wonder why Ferguson didn’t play Fletcher instead of Anderson; the Scot’s industry and tackling ability the perfect foil for their attacking play.
Granted the first goal came from a long hoof upfield and a misjudgment from Vidic but the Spaniard and indeed Steven Gerrard given large gaps to exploit, especially on the counter. For the second goal Torres was given great space in the channel between midfield and defence and because of the uncertainty Gerrard was allowed to run in behind Evra. With the space afforded to the opposition it means United, although great at keeping possession will always allow chances. The scoreline may have flattered Liverpool somewhat but there is no doubt they deserved the win, as they were tactically disciplined and superior and when given the opportunity made sure they made the most of it.