It was an unusually tame derby between arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, and both sides will have to agree that they could’ve done a lot better.
The first half was not even remotely exciting as both teams slowly tested the waters, not willing to commit too much to the attack. There was a lot at stake, as do all derbies, but their ennui was deeply disappointing. Liverpool played with confidence in the face of a rampant United and for once they seemed to be able to string a series of quality passes together.
But there was simply not enough supply and support for Luis Suarez, who looked ever so hungry to run at the defenders.
He was a constant thorn in the side for Rio Ferdinand and the latter soon found himself yellow carded for his challenge from behind. Suarez was keen to emulate his mesmerising dribbles in the six-yard box and we caught glimpses of that today, though it never yielded anything. It was also nice to see Steven Gerrard back in action for the full 90 minutes, though he was hardly inspiring in the crowded midfield.
I was expecting Andy Carroll or Craig Bellamy to come on at some point, and Kenny Dalglish would’ve puzzled most by choosing to use only one substitute today. The introduction of Bellamy might have changed the game, for Ferdinand was looking tired. Kudos to the big man though, for it was a noteworthy performance – he kept Suarez quiet for most of the afternoon.
The action we were all waiting for only surfaced in the last 15 minutes or so, where either teams could’ve taken the lead. United broke several times, but an organised Liverpool defence repelled the attacks. The hosts though, were playing too deep to effectively penetrate United’s back four.
My man-of-the-match would be David De Gea, who pulled off a string of excellent saves to prove to his gaffer that he’s ready for the big time action. Apart from him, no one really stood out in this fixture that made many yawn.
Time to look forward to their next clash in 2012!