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Liverpool - Can Lightning Strike Four Times?

Liverpool - Can Lightning Strike Four Times?

Liverpool have been an inferior team compared to Manchester United since... well, since the early nineties. It has been even more so during the last few seasons as United conquered Europe, won back-to-back-to-back Premier League titles while Liverpool were merely trailing pitifully behind, trying to keep up in vain.

However, the mediocre Scouse band won the last three league games between the two teams, a record which is nothing short of astonishing if you consider the massive gap in quality. For some reason, we made some awful mistakes against them, effectively bringing about our own downfall.

The common denominator of the three games is that Darren Fletcher appeared in neither of them. Twice we lost at Anfield without a proper ball-winning midfielder: last season Fergie opted for a suicidal 4-4-2, with Anderson and Rooney on the flanks, Carrick and Scholes in the middle. We took the lead, outplayed Liverpool for 20 minutes but their physical superiority began to tell and we faded. Still, it needed two spectacular mistakes from Van der Sar and Giggs to gift them the victory. Why Fergie did not bring on Hargreaves or Fletcher when Carrick had to go off injured is a mystery.

At Old Trafford, Fergie opted to leave out Fletcher for no apparent reason and with Anderson being in his wayward mode we were too often outnumbered in midfield. Yet again, though, we have taken the lead and should have preserved it but this time it was Vidic's turn to commit a horrible individual error (by the way, am I the only one who finds the talk about how Torres destroyed Vidic very tiring? He capitalised on one mistake from Vidic and that's all, it's not like he ran a riot or anything. Yet we never hear the end of it) and then Evra fouled Gerrard needlessly to give away a penalty and it was uphill from there, even though for 30 minutes in the second half United laid siege to the Liverpool area. Then got a man sent off (Vidic but he brought down Gerrard, not Torres, whatever the media would make you believe) and we collapsed.

And of course there was this season's clash. This time United missed Fletcher through injury and Fergie opted against using Anderson and went for a 4-4-2 with Scholes and Carrick. Again, the physicality of Lucas and Mascherano were way too much for us, especially as Andre Marriner was more than willing to allow them to commit a series of dirty fouls without punishment. When we were softened up enough by their roughhouse tactics, they struck through Torres and we were unlucky not to equalise when Valencia hit the post.

So, can lightning strike four times? First, the most important thing is that Fergie does not make the mistake of leaving Fletcher out again. We need his energy in midfield. Also, Park should play behind Rooney, in the role he performed to perfection against AC Milan - he could help to harass the unconvincing Lucas who must not be allowed to do all the bruising and tackling he did at Anfield and at Old Trafford last season. And of course Nemanja Vidic must not think that with Fernando Torres breathing down his neck it's a good idea trying to caress the ball. Just whack it out for a throw and it will be all right.

If we can gain the upper hand in midfield - which we should - then it's up to Rooney to take advantage of Carragher's lack of pace and positional sense and we should expect big things from Valencia as well, lining up against one of Liverpool's weakest links in Insua. They will, in all probability, defend deep and hoof the ball forward to Gerrard and Torres, a method that worked very well for them last season but if we do not make the same mistakes, these long balls should not pose much of a threat this time.

Of course, all this tactical talk is useless if the ref allows them to make one niggly foul after another as they did at Anfield. If they can bring the game down to their level, we'll have no chance to win. But let's hope that an in-form United can prevent that happening against a tired and poor Liverpool side.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Friday March 19 2010
Time: 5:45PM

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A partisan and bitter analysis Zae. Am not a Pool fan but it has to be said that the article is written not for footballing purposes but for wind up purposes.
19/03/2010 17:51:00
Unless we play a midfield five, there are enough good players in their team to take advantage of the lack of bodies. With Nani, Park, Valencia, Fletch and Carrick, we should be able to dominate. This may end up being a 2-1 or a 3-2.
19/03/2010 18:10:00
'Can Lightning Strike Four Times?' - Let's hope so. Sensing a decided lack of humility.
19/03/2010 18:11:00
Sorry mate .. Torres skinned both Rio (anfileld this season) , Vidic (OT last season) .. That guy deserves credit .. If we can contain him .. Then pool have no where to go .. I don see them winning this time around with Fergie waiting for kicking Liverpool of their perch (19th title)
19/03/2010 19:34:00
Im not bitter, Ill just say it as it is. Man United will beat Liverpool on Sunday. Torres and Gerrard have ripped Rio and Vidic to shreds in the last few encounters. Poor Vidic must be having nightmares. However, it wont happen this time. This time Rooney will shred us, unfortunately. Man United will win number 19, unfortunately. I even fancy you to win the Champions League as well, unfortunately. Learn some humility and stop letting the fact that we are still Englands most successful club (for now) get to you. You sound like an idiot.
19/03/2010 20:31:00
Im not afraid to admit that Vidic does not look as invincible against torres as he does against most other strikers. It cant be denied that at times he has looked shocking against them. Liverpool deserve credit because there is obviousy something about the way they play that unsettles us and it has to be said over the last three games we havent really unsettled them at all. Having said that, there is some truth in this article and we should beat them this weekend. I would like to see Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Valencia and Giggs with Rooney.
19/03/2010 21:32:00
Liverpoo dominated for all of 8 mins - then we had upper hand in most of the rest of the game - we totally deserved the win
21/03/2010 16:56:00
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