TWD Sunday Sports Thread #1 For 1/13/13: Unitedly Stronger Than Their Rivals
Final: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
It's a sound, workman like United victory, accomplishing the double over their bitter English rivals to go up 10 points on Manchester City in the standings and 24 points better than Liverpool at the moment.
It was another tough result for Brendan Rodgers side against the league's elite this season, as their midfield just did not have enough to help Luiz Suarez muster a consistent strong challenge for a United backline that has been shaky this season.
No clear cut chances for Suarez today. And still relying on Fabio Borini to get goals sums up the level Liverpool just is at, regardless of the positive team oriented style of play Rodgers has implemented.
United have past the first test of their difficult two week period in the league, as they have Tottenham on the road next week. City and to a lesser extent, both Chelsea and Spurs, hoped that United would drop points in this difficult back to back. But with how determined Sir Alex's men are with van Persie clicking every game, United still aren't showing the weakness required to make this ultra competitive league be as competitive in its overall title race.
Halftime: Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool
Robin van Persie's latest display of world class finishing has given the league leaders a deserved 1-0 lead at the break, and it could have been more if the world class Dutchman was able to get enough on a back heel towards the half's end.
For Liverpool, it was certainly a disappointing first half in the English derby of all English derbies. No clear cut scoring opportunities as the midfield three of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Lucas were badly outplayed by Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, and a mixture of Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa to help.
Allen once again was victim of another errant back pass that almost cost Brendan Rodgers side, and will need to do a lot better in half #2.
Beside considering replacing Raheem Sterling or Stuart Downing for Daniel Sturridge, Rodgers may also think about bringing in Jonjo Shelvey for some needed midfield force. And with Pepe Reina's second half in doubt, he may have to use up a key sub to bring in Brad Jones.
Ferdinand and Vidic have not been challenged at all in the middle of the park as Suarez hasn't been in any clear cut scoring situation. Rafael was terrific in shutting down Sterling and going forward superbly in setting up Van Persie's back heel chance. Add in Evra's assist to van Perise and it's arguably been the best half of football this season from United's back four.
Rodgers and Liverpool really need to show major bite in the second half to get a result.