Manchester United 1 - 1 Liverpool
Manchester United: Rashford 35’
Liverpool: Lallana 85’
It’s almost time! Liverpool are at Old Trafford and there’s been a couple expected additions and one unexpected omission from the lineup. Alisson and Joël Matip are back, but Mohamed Salah didn’t make it to fitness to make the side following his ankle injury. United have decided to play five at the back in an attempt to contain our attack, but with Divock Origi taking Salah’s space, we’ll see how effective it is. You know what is effective? The away fans all holding SIX signs and balloons.
We’re off! If there were any thoughts that this wouldn’t be a battle, those are quickly done away with as both teams come out swinging. This matchup has always been emotional and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all, so things have started a bit frantic.
United are already trying to draw whatever fouls they can get as Liverpool settle into the match, which is unsurprising from this team at home. Things are going to get dirtier before they get better, but of course this is only eight minutes in. Georginio Wijnaldum has the first shot of the match, twisting and turning away from United players to fire one off, right into David De Gea’s hands. On the other side of things, one particular United defender keeps tangling up with... any Liverpool player. Literally, tackling them in such a way that legs get tangled. Liverpool are getting forward now, though, so United are going to do whatever they can to make sure it stops — including tackles that get ignored by our good friend Martin Atkinson.
Things have been pretty even through these first twenty minutes, although Liverpool clearly look like the more skilled side, as they’re able to control the ball and who it goes to a thousand times better. Twenty three minutes in though and it feels like this match is going to go on forever. Either team could get a goal at this point and maybe it’d help give this match a little direction. Manchester have their first chance as McTominay bursts forward, but sends it right to the waiting hands of Alisson.
Origi has been playing like his life actually depends on it, getting into the wide spaces to try those sneaky goals he’s so good at, although he hasn’t been able to make anything happen just yet. Nothing is going to happen when Martin Atkinson keeps handing out free kicks and ignoring fouls committed on Liverpool, though. I try to rarely say this but truly the refereeing has been atrocious during this match. Liverpool have another chance as Sadio Mane makes a break for it down the wing, laying it off to Roberto Firmino in the perfect space, but De Gea scoops it up because he’s superhuman only when playing against us.
United score after Lindelof committed a foul on Origi and start a counterattack, with Marcus Rashford karate kicking it into the goal. Even with VAR checking the goal, it stands. Liverpool have been done dirty here, unsurprisingly, and we can only make sure we get more goals going forward. And now United have been handed a free kick in an advantageous spot because one of ours tackled them from behind - in the same fashion that had just happened to us.
Okay, we see you, Martin Atkinson.
Just when it looks like Liverpool have found an equalizer, VAR sticks their head into it again and the goal is ruled out as it looks like it hit Sadio Mane’s arm at some point in the battle leading up to it. Whatever. And then only a minute for stoppage time despite the two minutes for VAR alone? Sure. Fuck this game.
We’re back and hopefully we all got a good halftime talk. The nerves are gone and hopefully they’re playing with all the anger that I certainly feel. There’s good old Martin Atkinson again, giving United a foul when Harry Maguire just can’t control his own body and smashes into Sadio Mane. Sure.
I can’t even be too mad about the whole VAR debacle of the first half because we’ve benefited from it for too long and the other shoe was bound to drop, but jesus christ. United aren’t even doing anything except being shithouses and yet they’re still leading and the ref is still giving them calls and I’m really mad about all of this. I’m mostly mad that Liverpool haven’t been able to rise above it and score like three at this point. We just have to keep them from getting another.
Liverpool look to make their first change, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain getting ready to come on, but not after Fabinho basically lays out James and gives him a nosebleed, the first time the ref doesn’t immediately stop the game for anyone going to ground. Chambo comes on to replace Origi and while Origi has done well until this point, we need someone with a little more movement. Hopefully he can pull a Shaqiri and score a brace (knock on wood).
The most frustrating thing has been the useless passing into the box, expecting someone to pick it up and score off it when NO ONE IS ACTUALLY THERE. Trent Alexander-Arnold literally just floated a cross into a locked down Bobby and it wasn’t going to go anywhere. It’s so frustrating that nobody is putting themselves in useful spaces. Something useful finally happens as Fabinho is able to lay it off to Chambo in a space, but his shot goes wide.
Liverpool are lucky when Rashford’s shot goes just wide of the post, after losing the bacll in United’s half and letting them get the ball into a space. We’ve been giving United way too much space to operate and they’re taking advantage of it, while closing us down with that stupid back five and you know, committing fouls that the ref doesn’t care about. The first yellow card of the game, unsurprisingly, comes out against us and Fabinho is booked for... whatever reason. Klopp makes another change, bringing on Adam Lallana at the 70th minute for Jordan Henderson and I don’t know if you can feel my fume from here but I feel like I’m going to self combust.
Something FINALLY goes Liverpool’s way as Marcos Rojo tackles Fabinho from behind and we’re given a free kick - that is immediately squandered. We’re not actually playing all that well, honestly, and haven’t been for a while. Ashley Young commits and intentional foul on Adam Lallana by going for his ankle and all we get is a free kick out of it when it should’ve been a yellow, at least. Cool.
I don’t know if bringing Naby Keita is going to make a difference, but taking off Gini probably is so who knows if it’s going to be positive. With ten minutes left, there isn’t a lot of optimism left, in me or in anyone else it seems.
JUST KIDDING HOLY SHIT ADAM LALLANA IS OUR SAVIOR AND GETS THE EQUALIZER AT 85 MINUTES IN! If we finish this with at least a point, that’ll be something, but that goal could be just what we needed, if we can get one more before the clock runs out. And with five minutes of added time and all the time we’ve spent in their half now? We’re saying there’s a chance. Chambo takes another shot that goes just past the post, but not into the net where it should be.
Not really, but we didn’t lose and that’s what matters. The unbeaten streak still stands.