I was a bit ambivalent about watching the match, as both teams have been awful, and Rodgers’ team selections and substitutions have been baffling. Rumours of Mignolet getting dropped, of a back 3 with Lovren and Gerrard deep didn’t help matters. We also had a no-striker formation, which was not something we’ve really tried before. So it was with trepidation that I approached the game, but it was a terrible game as expected.
We started brightly, although the pressing didn’t feel very organised at times. We even managed to pin ManU in their own half, and Lallana created a brilliant chance for Sterling, who was playing up top. De Gea did the best he could, and Sterling should have put it in the net, but he didn’t. ManU countered, and Valencia took apart Allen and Moreno with embarrassing ease before an untracked Rooney run allowed him to slam the ball home. 1-0 down to a terrible ManU team, thanks to slack defending. Is there anything more typical of the 14/15 Liverpool ‘vintage’?
Then, we played a counter-attack game, with plenty of decent opportunities. But either we gave the ball away via Coutinho’s overhit passes, or Sterling just couldn’t apply the finish for about 3 clear cut chances. ManU were giving the ball away so damn cheaply, and their players kept getting into the book, but we couldn’t capitalise on anything. Then, we started to give the ball away, and ManU got into the game.
Their second goal was another terrible case of bad defending. Sure, Mata was offside, but his run went completely unchecked by Moreno or any midfielder. I’m not sure Enrique would have been any better, given he’s more brainless than Moreno, but this is just pathetic. ManU wasn’t even blowing us away; it was just stupid mistakes time and time again, while De Gea saved their bacon on the other end. We have been the better team, but we’re losing, thanks mostly to our own train-wreck defending.
The only bright side to the match was Lallana and Sterling, both who were playing well enough. Sterling seems to have lost his finishing ability from last season (although, to be fair, he’s not THAT good). Lallana got on the ball and drew fouls, trying things, but otherwise was a little mediocre. Which says plenty about the rest of the team, because they were even worse.
But with four ManU players in the book, I can only hope that we get one of them sent off, and can somehow salvage this terrible match between two terrible teams.
As the half started, I was gobsmacked by Lallana being taken off for Balotelli. If anyone should have been going off, it was Coutinho. All the substitution did was to reduce the number of chances we had, and we had to rely on a terrible Evans pass to make one really good chance for Sterling. But one-on-one with De Gea, the ManU keeper saved their asses once again.
Both sides looked like they might as well be playing for the other team, as they kept giving the ball away to each other. Then came an ManU attack, where the low cross was bad, but Lovren made a hash of it, knocking it into the path of onrushing ManU players who passed it to Van Persie, and made it 3-0.
After that, it was just the De Gea show as ManU failed to make an impact on our goal, while Balotelli had glorious chances that De Gea saved. Somehow, despite a team winning 3-0, their best player ended up being their keeper. We had 9 shots on target, but he saved them all.
On the Liverpool side, I can only continue to question Rodgers. Our midfield was anonymous, with Allen having to carry both Gerrard and Coutinho (after he shifted inwards). Henderson is patently not a RB, and Markovic being subbed on was a good idea, but should have been for Gerrard or Coutinho rather than Moreno. Lovren’s selection worried me, and lo and behold, he made the mistake for the 3rd goal. Jones also dived too early, and the wrong way for all 3 goals, which tells me that he’s really no better than Mignolet. Moreno was mediocre, which is pretty sad given his talents. We regressed him, as we did every other player in the squad.
Sterling was bright, but sorely needs finishing lessons. Balotelli was productive, but De Gea matched him. Gerrard was anonymous again, and let Allen get bullied in midfield by Fellaini and Rooney. We need defensive coaches, finishing coaches, some brains and cojones from our manager, and to bring back Sakho. He can’t be any worse than the train-wreck that is Lovren currently. Also, what do Can, Manquillo and Borini have to do to get a game?
We desperately need a proper keeper and a striker to put chances away in the January window. And if this continues, we might even need a new manager by the end of the season.