Our friends from Salford arrived at Anfield top of the table and talking of the title. Anyone who has watched the Mancs objectively this season will know that their lofty position is down to one thing only: the generosity of the football authorities. Although United have had some fine sides over the years, this is not one of them; instead, this is a mid-table side with an erratic goalkeeper, a dodgy defence, a pedestrian midfield and inconsistent forwards being propelled to success by the officials.
Jürgen made just the one change from the team that surrendered meekly to Southampton in our last league game, with the lesser-spotted Shaqiri coming into the attacking midfield role in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain. This meant that the Henderson-Fabinho partnership continued at the heart of the defence, stripping our midfield of two valuable assets. Fortunately, Thiago made his first home start since joining from Bayern last summer.
A cagey start from both sides, with Robbo’s wild shot, which ended up in the car park, in the 14th minute the only thing of note early doors; Bobby shot wide from the edge of the box a few minutes later. Bobby had another shot blocked; Mo fired high, wide and not so handsome; Shaq curled over.
Fernandes hit a free kick over before Bobby shot tamely straight at De Gea; the half petered out to a very humdrum and disappointing end. Things might have been different had Mané slotted home as he raced through in stoppage time… but the ref blew five seconds early to make sure we didn’t take the lead.
As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, the biggest concern for the home side was that they had spurned so many chances; on another day, we could have been two or three goals to the good. And, of course, we weren’t just facing the eleven men (well, nine plus those big girls Pogba and Fernandes) of the opposition but also the referee.
The second half wasn’t much better and it wasn’t until the 62nd minute, when Salah’s close-range poke goalwards was deflected wide for a corner, that anything noteworthy occurred. Fernandes shot straight at Alisson- the visitors’ first shot on target finally arrived in the 65th minute.
Our bearded Brazilian made a far better save with fifteen minutes left to play, sharply denying Fernandes with his feet, before Thiago tested De Gea with a 25-yarder; another effort a couple of minutes later from the same player drifted harmlessly wide.
Alisson thwarted Pogba in the 83rd minute, the Frenchman’s shot sweetly struck but straight at the ‘keeper. Big Div replaced the ineffectual Bobby soon afterwards; it was the Belgian’s 150th appearance for the Tricky Reds.
Next up is the visit of Burnley on Thursday evening, before we travel to the toilet to face today’s opponents again in the FA Cup in a week’s time. Three points against the struggling Clarets are a must- we spurned the opportunity to go back to the top of the table today and need to get a run going now.
MOTM: the late, great, Bernard Matthews. The other half was feeling all nostalgic when we ordered our weekly shop, so decided to get some Mini Kievs. Not only are they bloody tasty but, following further accusations of snobbery and elitism, they are something which can be enjoyed by the common man. Bootiful.