Manchester United’s grasp of clinching their 19th EPL title took a road bump, as they were thrashed by Liverpool. This marked the 2nd loss for the Red Devils within a week; United had only one EPL loss all season coming into this game. The past two games, Manchester’s defense and midfield were exposed thoroughly. The United midfield showed no aggression what-so-ever. Scholes looked like his age was catching up to him, and Carrick played uninspiring football, just after signing a contract-extension. Carrick has been out of position on several occasions, and has been really inaccurate on his passing. Also, he is definitely not known for his tackling. He hasn’t played his best football in the past couple of weeks. The midfield is critical to United’s success, and they were unable to get the job done. Hell, even Giggs played awful. It seemed as if everyone in United’s midfield was scared to make a tackle. On the other hand, Liverpool had a field day. Gerrard and Lucas were given a lot of space to create for their teammates. United did an awful job at closing these two down, especially Gerrard. A player of his caliber shouldn’t be given so much room to work with. The Red Devils looked lazy and sluggish. In my opinion, Darren Fletcher should have been playing the midfield instead of Scholes or Carrick. Fletcher is an excellent central-defending midfielder, and is vastly underrated. He isn’t scared to make challenges and is very smart at positioning himself on the pitch. I really like this kid’s game. Fletcher played right winger against Chelsea, which to me is not his best position, and was then benched against Liverpool. This was very surprising, as it came as a dumb decision to me. I think is he one of the better midfielders United have, and should have been on the pitch. I personally think United has been missing a reliable central-defending midfielder since Roy Keane, and Fletcher is the closing one they have.
United’s backline hasn’t been in best form the past two games, especially with Rio Ferdinand missing both. Ferdinand has been playing world-class football all season long, and is one of the top center backs in the EPL. The statistics show that United struggle without Rio on the pitch. In the six previous games he has missed, nine goals were allowed. Including two in the final fifteen minutes against Everton, when Manchester United as up 3-1. Ferdinand’s presence instantly boosts the backline, as they have been exposed the past two games. It also didn’t help that Vidic was out against Liverpool either, due to receiving two yellows against Chelsea. Vidic is also a top-class center back. Whenever both of them are on the pitch, United are hard to score against. Liverpool had the easiest goals I have seen in sometime against a United defense. Then again, when players like Wes Brown are on the pitch, anyone should be able to score. The Red Devil’s depth of the defensive side of the field is lacking, and if definitely showed Sunday.
Manchester United is barely holding on the top spot by three points, as Arsenal failed to gain more ground after a disappointing draw against Sunderland. Luckily, the Gunners have played one less game than United. With United swirling, the EPL title race just got that much more interesting.