Well, that was shite.
Three changes for the champions tonight, as Gini, Thiago and Ox came in for Phillips, Milner and Jones. This meant centre half pairing number 1,043 of the season as Henderson dropped back to partner Fabinho at the heart of the defence. Thiago’s first start for the Tricky Reds since mid-October was long-awaited; he showed in a 20-minute cameo against Newcastle last week just what he can add to the team.
Great start by the visitors… not. A very soft free kick awarded against Thiago resulted in Ward-Prowse floating the ball into the penalty area; only Trent knows why he left it alone when he could easily have cleared it. Ings pounced, notching his 50th Premier League goal with a delicate finish lifted over Alisson. 1-0 in the third minute.
Thiago showed his obvious frustration and was booked a few minutes later, while Robertson soon followed the Spanish international into Andre Marriner’s book for a silly trip. The latter really made my blood boil- certain players get away with these niggly fouls all the time with the ref just laughing it off and patting them on the backside. A Liverpool player does exactly the same thing, even if it’s his first infraction of the game, and he’s straight in the book.
Trent almost made amends with a couple of excellent deliveries- one from open play, where Walker-Peters just did enough to put off Sadio at the far post, and another from a corner which led to Gini’s header hitting Stephens in the back.
Tella, who replaced the stricken Djenepo just after the half hour mark, almost made it 2-0 with a shot that just curled wide of Alisson’s righthand post, but the first half was generally dull. Sadio crossed for Salah as we entered stoppage time but Bertrand just did enough to put off the Egyptian. As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, the Reds were in need of some serious waking up; the dreaded Haartrockner treatment must have been on its way.
The second half started with the Reds in the ascendancy and Stephens blocked Gini’s shot with an outstretched arm in the 50th minute. Needless to say, United would have got a penalty for that; we got fuck all.
Shaqiri replaced the disappointing Ox just before the hour mark and Armstrong inadvertently let in Sadio a few moments later but Stephens did well to block the shot; Walker-Peters then clumsily challenged Mané in the box but- once again- no penalty. Plus ça change…
Firmino cut back brilliantly but Diallo did well to beat Sadio to the ball; Shaqiri blasted over from the edge of the box. Mané shot tamely at Forster in the 75th minute- believe it or not, that was our first shot on target.
Trent was subbed for Milner after giving the ball away 38- count ‘em, thirty eight- times, a record in the Premier League this season. Having needlessly allowed the opening goal, it’s fair to say this wasn’t the best night of the young right back’s career; let’s hope that he doesn’t have a worse one.
Henderson then comfortably cleared before Valery’s pea roller could cross the line after the Frenchman had beaten the onrushing Alisson to a through ball.
So, yet another abject performance by the Reds away from Anfield. The Palace game looks like the exception rather than the rule and, given that the officials are doing their best to fuck us over at every possible opportunity- our friends from Salford would definitely have been awarded two penalties tonight- Jürgen should be taking a leaf out of every BAME parent’s book and telling his players that they’ll have to prove that they’re twice as good as their white (or, in this case, Manc) counterparts to get the same rewards.
Anyway, next up is a trip to Birmingham to face Villa in the FA Cup on Friday night. Our last two visits to Villa Park have resulted in defeats by a cumulative score of 2-12, although the first of those was with the kids in last year’s Carabao Cup and the second can be blamed solely on that useless waste of space Virgil Van Dijk. I have the feeling that Jürgen will go full pelt against the Villans this time, given that our following match is another eight days later. Readers won’t need reminding who we face on the seventeenth; I’m sure this place will go into meltdown for a week if we lose on Friday.
We’re still top of the league and we still will be if we beat the Mancs in that game; still, we need to raise our game considerably if we are to retain our title.
WOTM: Artemisia Gentileschi. I was meant to be going to the National Gallery tomorrow to see the major exhibition by the seventeenth century Baroque painter but that has obviously been rendered impossible by coronavirus. So I have spent most of the day going through the exhibition catalogue; anyone unfamiliar with Artemisia’s work should really have a good look online. Love her 1622 portrait of an unknown Gonfaloniere- so much so, that I’ve decided to grow the same beard.
If I can.