Posted on Monday, 14th January 2013 by Chudi
After United took a 2-0 lead, Liverpool found their way back into the game when Gerrard’s fierce shot was well saved by De Gea but Sturridge was able to tuck away the equaliser. In past weeks De Gea has been criticised for pushing the ball back into danger when making saves, but this time I don’t think it was his fault. He should be applauded for making the save in the first place and Rafael, like against Athletic Bilbao, was caught napping when he should have cleared the ball. 6
Rafael: Got forward to aid United’s attack and almost created a goal when he took down Carrick’s lofted pass, rode the challenge of Glen Johnson and crossed only for Van Persie’s effort to be blocked and Kagawa to be impeded before he could have a crack. Also kept a lid on Raheem Sterling coming down his flank, but should have been on his toes for Sturridge’s goal. 7
Rio Ferdinand & Nemanja Vidic: In the first half the pair were as solid as they could be, keeping the threat of Luis Suarez to a minimum. They worked well in tandem covering for each other and knowing when to go home or when to bring the ball forward. In the second half as Liverpool got into the game more and Sturridge was introduced, their job got harder but they still provided adequate protection for De Gea. 8
Patrice Evra: Today we say the negatives and positives of Evra as far too many times he was beaten as Liverpool pressed forward, but when he himself got forward he caused problems for the away team. His cross found Van Persie for United’s opener and in the second half, got amongst the goals himself when his header deflected in off Vidic’s face.
Unfairly booked following a Downing dive, shame Howard Webb forgot this! 8
Michael Carrick: The secret may be out on Carrick as even his most ardent detractors have to accept the midfielder is good as gold.
Earlier in the first half he showed his defensive prowess covering for the absent Evra to keep Liverpool at bay, but offensively the gloves were off too as he proceeded to pick out any player that was willing to run off Liverpool’s back line. Welbeck was the beneficiary of his vision numerous times, Van Persie almost found the net from one of his passes and Rafael almost set up Van Persie before the break from one of his passes. 8.5
Tom Cleverley: Earlier in the season, prior to Liverpool away, Cleverley spoke of knowing where he stood in the team by how he was used when the big games came around. He didn’t start that game. But called upon against Man City and today, Cleverley has shone. His short passing and movement kept Liverpool on the back foot early on today and almost scored a spectacular volley. Was sloppy in the second, giving the ball away for Liverpool’s goal but that was a rare blemish in what was an impressive game for the England midfielder. 7.5
Ashley Young: After an impressive return to form, Young wasn’t at his best today.Could have given Johnson more to do in his 45 minutes. Picked up a knock on the half hour mark and despite playing on, was replaced by Antonio Valencia at half time. 6
Shinji Kagawa: Kagawa is still adapting to life at Old Trafford but today was an impressive showing. Whilst not a winger, Kagawa put in a shift out wide and became even more of a threat when moving more central. Almost bent an effort in, in the second half but Reina saved to deny him his reward for a solid showing. Replaced by Jones late on. 7
Danny Welbeck: His selection raised a few eyebrows but Welbeck more than justified Sir Alex’s faith in him today with a brilliant performance. You know you are going to get hard work from Danny when he plays, but today he worked exceptionally hard and Liverpool struggled with him.
He won the freekick that Evra/Vidic converted for the winner and held up the ball well, bringing his team mates into the fray but again was guilty of spurning chances, blazing over and taking too long to pull the trigger when bearing down on goal. 8
Robin Van Persie: On a day when all the talk was about the front men, only one performed. Thankfully it was ours!
Has more than justified Sir Alex’s decision to splash out on him with this season and grabbed United’s opener, pulling off his man to turn Evra’s cross past Reina. Whilst you know he will take at least 1 chance presented to him, he could have had more but saw two backheels saved/blocked, whilst firing over in the first half. He set up United’s 2nd when his freekick found Evra at the back post who nodded the ball off Vidic past Reina. 8.5
Antonio Valencia: Perhaps gave Johnson a little more trouble than Young, and late on when about to burst past the defender and counter, was rugby tackled by the toilet seat thief, a challenge that should have seen him shown a red.
Would have got an assist to his name had Van Persie’s spectacular backheel gone in. 6.5
Phil Jones: Came on for Kagawa to shore up a midfield that was losing their grip on the game and put himself about, even if he wasn’t successful all of the time. 6
Chris Smalling: Replaced Vidic late on and whilst Liverpool pressed for an equaliser helped soak up the pressure. 6