Manchester United Silence Liverpool at Anfield

Manchester United recorded a 2-1 victory at Anfield this afternoon to keep within 1 point of league leaders Chelsea after Jonjo Shelvey received a red card in the first half.

I had anticipated Manchester United picking up a result from Anfield heading into the game, but it was Liverpool who got off to the better start.

Brendan Rodgers is built a reputation on maintaining possession and that’s exactly what Liverpool were doing in the first half. Rafael da Silva made a couple of interceptions and headers inside his own 6 yard box to deny the home side taking an early lead.

Luis Suarez was being his usual self in looking lively up front and firing a number of shots in on goal. However, the Uruguayan failed to get his name on the scoresheet this time.

Jonjo Shelvey received a straight red card in the 39th minute for an uncontrolled challenge on Jonny Evans. Both Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp agreed with the dismissal.

I would have expected some hair dryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson at half time after his side’s dismal first half performance, that saw Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa quiet up front, and neither Michael Carrick or Ryan Giggs doing enough to win back possession in the centre of midfield.

Paul Scholes was introduced at half time in place of Nani. Within 60 seconds Manchester United were a goal behind. Steven Gerrard was given the time to chest the ball down inside the penalty area and smash the ball home with his left foot.

Ultimately, the man advantage proved too much for Liverpool, who are now 5 Premier League games without a win under Brendan Rodgers.

Rafael finished superbly moments after I layed Liverpool at 1.86 (having layed them pre-game too). Manchester United were also backed at 5.7. The Brazilian’s left-footed shot hit the post and went in following Shinji Kagawa’s chest down to his team mate.

Inside the final 20 minutes, Suso’s sloppy pass allowed Antonio Valencia to take possession on the half way line and burst into the Liverpool half as he broke through 2 attempted challenges. The Ecuadorian winger looked indecisive inside the penalty area but his decision was made for him when Glen Johnson tripped him up.

After a long delay due to Daniel Agger being down injured (and eventually subbed for Jamie Carragher), Robin van Persie stepped up and smashed the penalty home. It was the fourth straight game (including the Champions League) in which Manchester United had won a penalty. It was the first they have scored.

Liverpool have every right to feel aggrieved they lost this game. They were on top for the majority of the game, even with 10 men. Luis Suarez had a good penalty shout in the second half too.

For Manchester United, it’s now 4 wins a row in the league after losing to Everton in their opening fixture. Only Chelsea (13) have picked up more points. Today also marked the 3rd occasion Manchester United have come from behind to win this season – they only picked up 3 points after falling behind on 1 occasion throughout the whole of last season.

Aside from his goal, Rafael had a good game at right back for Manchester United, making a number of clearances inside his own area, as well as leading his team with 7 tackles.

There weren’t any other individual performances that stood out for Manchester United today, but they picked up the 3 points none-the-less. Paul Scholes completed 43/45 passes in the second half and Shinji Kagawa completed 38 of his 42 attempts.