The best and the worst of the last 5 United vs Liverpool at Old Trafford

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Juan_Mata_3137752bManchester United host Liverpool today, as English football’s biggest rivalry resumes yet again, with the visitors arriving at Old Trafford after suffering defeats home and away last season.

United enter the contest with a strong home record against their arch-rivals, having won four of their last five games against Liverpool on home turf. Here’s a reminder of what Old Trafford has witnessed over the last five seasons of this fixture.

19th September 2010 – Berba’s finest hour

Dimitar Berbatov is fondly remembered by United fans for his luxurious style of play and providing some memorable moments. Although he never quite lived up to the hype as Fergie’s “missing piece of the jigsaw” to bring back a third Champions League title as some predicted he did treat United fans to some dazzling displays. There were none more dazzling than this game, where he scored an impressive hat-trick to sink Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool. While the winner was a towering header to restore his team’s lead after Steven Gerrard had clawed back two goals to draw Liverpool level, the highlight of the match was Berbatov’s outrageous looping over head kick which clipped in off the crossbar and had Pepe Reina rooted to the spot. United went on to win the league with Berbatov contributing 20 goals.

Berbatov hat trick against liverpool..Man Utd 3 – Liverpool 2 from faizanansari on Vimeo.

11th February 2012- The one where Suarez refused a handshake

Nothing captures the imagination of football fans quite like a player refusing to shake another player’s hand. While no one had much of a problem with Wayne Bridge refusing to shake John Terry’s hand two seasons before, Luis Suarez caused quite the stir when he refused to accept Patrice Evra’s offer of a handshake prior to an already incendiary match. The incident was baffling as Suarez was the one who had been punished with an 8 game ban for racially abusing Evra earlier in the season. The match was ill-tempered and Suarez, being the stand up guy he is, caused further incident by kicking a ball into the crowd just before half time which caused unrest as the teams walked to the tunnel. The game was settled by Wayne Rooney with 2 goals in the first four minutes of the second half with Suarez getting a late goal for the visitors. Evra then provoked an angry response from the Liverpool players when he enjoyed a lap of honour after the final whistle that included celebrations in close proximity to his Uruguayan pal.

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13th January 2013- Van Persie continues relentless run to the title

Billed as the Battle of the Strikers, the league’s two best front men squared off but there was only one winner as Robin Van Persie scored one and set up the other in a game that was much more comfortable for United than the 2-1 scoreline reflected. A typical lethal finish and a deadly accurate free kick for Evra to nod in were enough to see off Brendan Rodgers and co. The match was like plenty of others that season with Van Persie making the difference, seemingly on a one man mission to win his first, and United’s 20th, league title. The win was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match against Liverpool. His record against the team he successfully knocked off their perch was PL 61 W30 D 13 L18.

 

16th March 2014- Moyes’ United get battered

Whenever United fans complain about the performance or result, or both, of the current side under Louis Van Gaal I always think back to the two matches at home to Liverpool and then Manchester City under David Moyes and remember how much worse it was only 18 months ago. These were the lowest points in the last 30 years for Manchester United fans. The games, both resounding 3-0 defeats at home, took place just 9 days apart and were the catalyst for his removal as manager. The Liverpool loss was marginally worse due to the fact that not only was the victory thoroughly deserved, it could have been 6 or 7, but that they were playing the kind of fast, free flowing counter attack football that had become the trademark of Alex Ferguson’s great sides. Steven Gerrard scored two penalties, missed a third and, to rub salt into the wounds, Suarez made it 3-0 late on. This was a bad day.

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14th December 2014- De Gea shows his worth

Despite the decisive nature of the 3-0 scoreline it was David de Gea who was rightfully awarded Man of the Match for a string of world class saves that underlined his importance to the side. Eyebrows were raised before kick off when promising youngster James Wilson was given a rare big match start at the expense of Radamel Falcao with Wayne Rooney dropping back into a midfield role. However the experiment paid off as goals from Rooney, a Scholes-esque finish arriving late from deep, Mata and Van Persie gave United a comfortable lead. The last 30 minutes showcased why de Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world as he showed uncanny reflexes and incredible agility to deny Mario Balotelli on a handful of occasions. The win also went a long way to bringing a feel good atmosphere back to Old Trafford as one of the ghosts of the Moyes era was laid to rest.

Wayne Rooney, who scored against Liverpool, has matur

Liam Maguire (@Sixesand_Sevens)

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8 Comments

  1. In 20 years people will look back at this game and all they will see is a 3-1 scoreline. There were moments of magic in the second half, it was great that Martial scored a fantastic goal on his debut and we were shown yet again how important De Gea really is. The truth is more that a poor Utd beat an even poorer Liverpool. Utd were set up not to lose rather than to win,for all the talk from VG that he listened to the player’s complaints, it seems he hasn’t taken any notice. Before the goals it was an intriguing game, swinging one way then the other, not from a footballing spectacle but from a who’s the first manager to be sacked angle. My money is now on Rodgers, LVG has bought himself some extra time from this result and that we are now, unbelievably, in second place behind City.
    A really alarming thing is that Utd started this game, one of the biggest of the season, without a recognised striker. Fellaini played like a defensive midfielder trying to be a striker and looked more like a carthorse than a thoroughbred, that’s not his fault, he’s not a striker, he did his best, so no criticism. However, it is a truly awful situation for Utd to be in, especially as so much money has been spent and so many players shown the OT exit door. Against a better, more organised side Utd could really have suffered.But, a win is a win and three goals are three goals, so VG will feel justified for his team selection and tactics, boring but, in this case, effective. It won’t go down as a classic, but the vital statistic will be a win to Utd.

  2. There are reports in some of the papers that LVG is now looking to extend his contract at OT. All I will say is that I hope it’s not true, and if it is he is given a firm NO from the Utd board.

  3. I dont think LVG’s job was ever in any danger. It is a results business and he has led us to a top four finish in his first season and we are sitting pretty in second place. While I find his tactics very limiting we have enough quality in our team that most of the time we can get the right result.

    For me the main problem is playing people out of position and indulging mediocrity.

    We are not scoring goals because Depay is a totally inadequate replacement for Di Maria, Mata is isolated out wide where he struggles to impact the game, neither Rooney nor Fellaini have looked convincing upfront, and Herrera is too one-dimensional as an attacking midfielder and unable to unlock defences.

    Simply playing Martial on the right, Young on the left, Mata in the hole, Herrera in midfield in place of Schweisteneger, and Rooney upfront would go a huge way towards correcting the goals drought.

    LVG gets a lot of stick for playing Blind in central defence. But he gives us the leadership we have lacked since Rio and Vidic left and thankfully there are not many strikers in the league good enough to expose his “Blind” spots. And in fairness he probably is the best option until we sign a top class central defender.

    • @colver: Too early to write off Depay in my view. He clearly has the talent but is finding it difficult to adjust to the pace of the EPL. I’d like to see him having a more flexible role rather than hugging the left wing touchline the whole time.

      Mind you it shouldn’t be hard to “replace” ADM. Whatever the case about him being restricted by LvG’s philosophy you do expect a world class player to be able to play reasonably consistently in terms of passing the ball and shooting. On the whole, apart from a few exceptions, ADM was absolutely woeful in those basics. The truth is he didn’t fancy the rough and tumble of the EPL and he didn’t like Manchester. United was not his first choice. Had PSG been able to buy him in the first place he would have gone there instead – without hesitation. So let’s forget ADM.

      Martial is going to present LvG with a problem regarding where to play him. On current form Young deserves to start ahead of Depay unless you play him down the right. Then what happens to Mata? Does he move inside to take Herrera’s position? The latter really shouldn’t be dropped though. He could take Schweinsteiger’s place who despite some improvement seems somewhat ponderous still but does a deeper role actually suit Herrera? I daresay LvG will continue to play Martial off the bench but whilst its understandable that the youngster needs to be handled carefully, it would also be wrong to wrap him up in cotton wool the whole time. To be fair to LvG he has rather a good history of developing promising youngsters – so we really shouldn’t have concerns on that score.

      As regards LvG maybe thinking about extending his time at OT, it really does depend on what happens next season. If he wins the championship or the ECL then why not consider letting a good thing continue? On the other hand, if there are still no trophies by the time his contract expires then time to hand over to someone else. Bear in mind that someone is more than likely to be Giggs – so ideally you want a settled squad with a team capable of actually doing something.

  4. Mata needs to be in the hole because he offers the most creativity and we create woefully few chances. That would open up a spot on the right side which I would expect Martial to fit so long as Rooney is fit. Van Gaal does seem to prefer two defensive midfielders and Herrera struggled in that role last season so unfortunately he is stuck competing with Mata for a spot in the number 10 position. But just as Young should rightly be ahead of Depay on the left side so too should Mata be ahead of Herrera based on current ability and form. It will be a long season so it is not as if Depay and Herrera will not get plenty of gametime as part of a squad rotation system. But we are not superior enough to other sides in the league to be able to get away with not playing our strongest team and players in their correct positions most of the time.

    • @colver: Utd don’t need to play with two defensive midfielders, at least not for 95% of the games. If Herrera is left on the bench he will leave, and that will be another very good player that Utd have lost due to LVG’s negative tactics.He doesn’t need to compete with Mata, he should be complementing him. Utd have always been a side with a philosophy of attractive, attacking flair football, that doesn’t need to change, especially in the EPL. With the money spent there should be very few teams that are a threat to Utd, and actually from what I’ve seen so far, there are very few teams that are a threat. The biggest threat to Utd at the moment is VG and his negative ideas that are turning Utd into a team of robots devoid of any creativity.

  5. Well yeah against most teams two defensive midfielders is overkill and Herrera should be able to slot in comfortably alongside either Carrick of Schneiderlin. But I really do think having pacey wide players like Martial and Young and Mata in the hole would make a huge difference in terms of stretching and opening up teams and creating chances.

    • @colver: I absolutely agree, it would turn Utd into a side capable of very fast counter attcking football, though possibly Mata might slow things a bit. Mata could be used against teams that are more organisd, where the build up is necessarily slower. He has the ability to pick the lock rather than batter the door down.

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