It was labelled as the ‘dog and duck verses the red lion’ but Manchester United were the top class team while Liverpool were the pub team
The defeat at Old Trafford by Liverpool last season showed that perhaps a power shift was taking place between the two old rivals. Oh what a difference a new manager with the arrogance and confidence to manage Manchester United and Liverpool’s loss of star striker Luis Suarez makes. Both teams spent over 100 million in the Summer transfer window on new players but the really interesting thing about the game yesterday was the fact none of Manchester United’s new signings started the game. All the players who were on the pitch from the start were involved in the Liverpool game at Old Trafford last season. What has changed ? Louis van Gaal has given the players confidence and of course the fact he has tactical plans unlike the man in charge of United last season. The roles were reversed United embarrassed Liverpool this season in the same way the Merseyside club did United last season.
Liverpool actually started the better team looking to exploit the weaknesses in the Man Utd defence. However they could not take their opportunities and in the Premier League you are punished for not taking your chances. United with their first meaningful attack of the game scored to make it 1-0. Excellent work from right wing back Antonio Valencia surging past two Liverpool players to get the ball to Wayne Rooney on the edge of the box who scored a delightful goal sending Old Trafford into party mode. Who’d have thought last season Antonio Valencia would be excelling as a wing back when he looked so drained of any confidence. Again you have to say the difference is Louis van Gaal. Liverpool continued to be the better team throughout the first half but couldn’t get past the simply magnificent David De Gea in the United goal. De Gea could have been tested more if not for the calmness and composure of Michael Carrick playing at the heart of the United back three. United once again showed Liverpool how to score goals. Ashley Young another player reborn under van Gaal surged forward getting a perfect cross into the box that Robin van Persie got a slight touch on to make its way to Juan Mata who headed in his fifth league goal of the season. Although he was clearly offside the officials gave the goal to give United a 2-0 going into the break. The fact Mata was clearly offside made the goal all that bit sweeter for United fans. The second half followed the same pattern as the first half with Liverpool looking the better offensive team forcing David De Gea into more brilliance. The one on one with Raheem Sterling showed how much he has developed as a keeper as he stood tall and in control to make sure Sterling didn’t score. Incredibly United punished Liverpool on the counter attack again with Marouane Fellani yet another player unrecognisable from the struggles he endured last season breaking up the play allowing Juan Mata to storm forward into the Liverpool half. Mata’s initial ball to Rooney was delightful but Rooney couldn’t pick out Robin van Persie. Liverpool decided to help United out with Dejan Lovren looking like a Sunday League defender clearing the ball into the path of Juan Mata who ingeniously picked out Robin van Persie who made no mistake in tucking the ball home on that deadly left foot to make it 3-0 which is how the game finished with United picking up their sixth win in a row.
The result leaves United ten points ahead of Liverpool already this season. It is a result which also consolidates third place for van Gaal’s team and puts United 5 points clear in the top four. Many pundits say United got lucky because of the chances Liverpool had. But the reason De Gea plays is to stop goals or we may as well not have a goalkeeper so its not lucky at all its called having a class goalkeeper. This result represents so much for the club as a whole. Of course the three points are crucial meaning United have furtherer consolidated a top four place and opened up a ten point gap over one of the main rivals for that top four place. But the manor of the result can provide further momentum as United look to ensure a return to the Champions League and who knows maybe challenge for the Title but I’d say that is probably unrealistic this season. Of course the best thing about the result was getting one over on our oldest rivals and it was joyous to sing “your getting sacked in the morning” at Brendan Rogers as the Liverpool fans had done at David Moyes last season.
My Man Of The Match: David De Gea