SUPER SUNDAY, AHOY!
Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford in the first of two huge games this afternoon, so don’t go anywhere.
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Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
11.58 – Good afternoon! Liverpool may be 21 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United going into this afternoon’s match but, as we’ve seen in the past, that will matter little when the two sides take to the field at Old Trafford.
Two of England’s most successful sides meet at lunch-time in one of the most highly-anticipated games of the season. There’s 90 minutes until we get underway, so before we bring you team news, let’s have your predictions….
What score will the match finish?
12.43 – And we’ve got the teams. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are the centre-back partnership with Jonny Evans injured, while Danny Welbeck gets the nod up front with Wayne Rooney out and Shinji Kagawa looking likely to begin on the right.
There’s no place for new signing Daniel Sturridge as Brendan Rodgers opts for Luis Suarez up front supported by Raheem Sterling, Stuarting Downing and Steve Gerrard, with Joe Allen and Lucas completing the midfield. 19-year-old Andre Wisdom, who signed a new contract this week, starts at full-back. Fabio Borini, meanwhile, returns to the bench after a lengthy lay-off.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa, Welbeck, Young, Van Persie. Subs: Amos, Jones, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Smalling.
Liverpool: Reina, Wisdom, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Lucas, Gerrard, Allen, Downing, Sterling, Suarez. Subs: Jones, Carragher, Henderson, Sturridge, Borini, Shelvey, Robinson.
12.54 – Vidic and Ferdinand line out together for the first time since September. Can Suarez cause the same kind of problems to the Serbian as an in-form Fernando Torres used to?
13.04 – Boom, there’s a lineout steal from Ryan. Now, if Munster can work out their own lineout throws they will be set. 16 minutes gone.
It’s a good barometer for us today,” Brendan Rodgers has just told Sky Sports. “I’m very pleased and our form has been very good. I’m looking forward to it. They (Van Persie and Suarez are both wonderful players with different strengths. These games are about the team. If we work together we’ve got a good chance to get a result.”
13.19 – If you hadn’t heard, Howard Webb will officiate today’s game. This photoshop job from BBCSporf gave us a bit of a chuckle.
13.27 – The teams have just emerged from the tunnel so we’re about to get started. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” explains Graeme Souness on Sky Sports.
No handshake controversy, thankfully. Here we go.
13.36 – United have lined up with Shinji Kagawa on the left with Ashley Young switched over the right and Danny Welbeck in behind Van Persie. The visitors are pressing high up the field at this early stage with Allen putting the opposing defence under pressure.
Patrice Evra gets an opportunity to cross but sends it right into the hands of Pepe Reina.
13.39 – Kagawa tests Wisdom for the first time but the 19-year-old is up to it and puts the ball behind for a corner. Young with the delivery and after it’s half-cleared, Webb awards Liverpool a free-kick for a push on Raheem Sterling.
13.41 – Reina takes a big risk with trying to playing the ball out short and getting caught. United pick up possession but Carrick’s resulting shot is block and Reina breathes a sigh of relief.
13.44 – Gerrard’s stands over a free-kick some 40 yards from goal. He delievers into the danger area but it gets headed clear.
We then have the first ‘coming-together’ between old foes Evra and Suarez. The Uruguayan uses his body to shield the ball and is bundled over by his French opponent. Again, the set-piece isn’t utilised.
13.48 – Van Persie picks up possession in the Liverpool box and looks to get a strike off but is snuffed out. Very tight affair so far.
13.50 – GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool (Robin van Persie)
Just as I say that, that man scores. Cleverley and Welbeck combine to get Evra away down the left. His cross finds RVP, who sweeps home his 17th league goal of the season. Excellent run and a clinical finish.
13.55 – A Gerrard mistake nearly allows Van Persie the chance for a second but he gets caught in possession. Wisdom and Johnson have attacked down their respective wings in the last few minutes but neither has been able to put in a decent cross.
13.57 – Here’s that goal for those who haven’t yet seen it:
YouTube credit: Ufo click
14.02 – Young crashes into Agger and comes off worse. United continue to attack but with their team-mate staying down, decide to put the ball out of play. Camera cuts to Antonio Valencia warming up on the sideline. We may see him sooner than expected.
14.05 – Young is back on the field and should be alright to resume. The next Liverpool midfielder to feed a striker from the other team is Allen, with Welbeck receiving the wayward pass. He cuts inside to have a pop and Aggers gets his body behind it to make the challenge.
Welbeck finds himself in another great position but blazes over with his left foot.
14.08 – Look who’s here. Presumably on a scouting mission ahead of Real Madrid’s meeting with Manchester United in the Champions League knockout stages, Jose Mourinho is sat next to England boss Roy Hodgson.
14.10 – That’s poor from Gerrard. On a rare occasion where Liverpool look threatening in the final third, their skipper plays an overhit pass back to Suarez, who was looking for the one-two.
14.12 – Two defensive headers from a Young cross sees the ball fall to Cleverley. He opts to take it on first time and catches a volley cleanly, which fizzes just outside the far post.
14.19 – How did that not go in? Rafael gets in behind Johnson and latches onto a super pass by Carrick. He cuts the ball to Van Persie, whose first instinct is to flick it goalward. It’s cleared off the line, however, and Reina does ever so well to keep Kagawa out from close range. The goalkeeper appears to be hurt after a collision with the Japanese international and receives attention from the medical staff.
14.20 – First booking of the day and it’s gone to Lucas for a trip on Young.
14.21 – Half-time: Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool
14.33 – There’s only been one side in this one in the first 45 minutes with United looking comfortable at the back and dominating midfield. Liverpool’s system is just not working at the moment and Rodgers may look to shake it up by introducing either Sturridge or Borini to help out Suarez, who has cut an isolated figure.
14.37 – Change for United – Valencia is on for Young, who may not have recovered from that clash with Agger. And here comes Daniel Sturridge. The former Man City and Chelsea striker has been introduced for Lucas.
Second half about to begin.
14.41 – Free-kick for United just short of 30 after Allen brings down Kagawa. Van Persie takes… but gets his angles all wrong and watches it go high and wide.
14.45 – Liverpol break through Suarez and he threads a ball wide to Wisdom whos is marauding down the wing. With both Sturridge and Suarez inside, he goes it alone and loses his footing before slicing wide.
14.46 – Manchester United 2-0 Liverpool (Nemanja Vidic)
Evra clips a ball over the top and Martin Skrtel is in trouble. He pulls down Welbeck, who has got the wrong side of him, and picks up a yellow card for his troubles. The resulting free-kick is swung in and Glen Johnson is all at see as Evra heads home at the back post via a slight touch off Vidic.
14.51 – GOAL! Manchester 2-1 Liverpool (Daniel Sturridge)
They’ve pulled one back. Gerrard robs Carrick of possession and lets fly with a great strike. De Gea gets a hand to it but Sturridge is quickest to react and blasts it into the back of the net.
14.55 – Fabio Borini makes his return from injury. The Italian takes the place of Raheem Sterling, who has been quiet this afternoon.
14.56 – Fantastic save from Reina to keep Kagawa at bay after Welbeck had stormed goalward.
15.02 – United’s second. He didn’t know a lot about it but Vidic will be credited with the goal:
YouTube credit: MultiSoccerHighlight
And Sturridge makes it 2-1:
YouTube credit: SportsMini
15.04 – Allen to Suarez to Sturridge, but his shot is wide from a narrow angle. 20 minutes remain here.
15.10 – Things to report during a busy few minutes:
- Liverpool shot – Sturridge feeds Borini, who flicks the ball with his first touch and catches it on the volley. De Gea has a look but it’s a couple of yards outside the post.
- Yellow card for Evra – For sticking out his leg as Downing goes by. On the replay, however, it looks like he’s dived as there was no contact.
- Vidic heads the free-kick behind but Webb hasn’t got a good look at it and awards a United goal kick.
- Another player into the book – Johnson takes down Evra, who has set off on a run.
- Phil Jones has come on for Kagawa and will sit in the middle with Welbeck moved to the left
- Nemanja Vidic is off and Chris Smalling takes his place
15.13 – Jordan Henderson gets 10 minutes to make a difference. Joe Allen has been withdrawn.
15.19 – United under the cosh somewhat and have been let off by Sturridge there. Suarez weaves his way into the box and it eventually falls to the substitute but he leans back and puts it over when he really should be making De Gea work.
15.21 – Glen Johnson is a lucky boy. Already on a yellow, he pulls Valencia back but is let away with a talking to by Webb when normally you’d expect a booking.
15.24 – Sidenetting from Sturridge after United a caught napping with a quick free-kick. He’s certainly made a difference since coming on.
Down the other end, Valencia picks out Van Persie and a cheeky flick of his back-heel is saved by Reina.
15.26 – Agger fouls Van Persie in the corner and that looks to be it as United will run down the remaining seconds of the four added minutes.
15.27 – Full-time: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
15.38 – Just like it ended in September, United prevail as 2-1 winners. They were well on top in the first half but struggled to weather the storm at 2-0, however, and allowed Liverpool back into the game in the final 20 minutes. United extend their lead at the top to 10 points over City, who play Arsenal at 4, while Liverpool remain in eighth place.
That’s me signing off but make sure to check in with Fenno, who is about to start liveblogging today’s second Premier League game. Cheers as always for joining us and sharing your thoughts in the comments section.