Manchester's Nightmare on Anfield Road
Feature by Kieran Davies
Updated Monday, 30th January 2012
Both Man City and Man United were dealt crushing blows on their plans of silverware for this season. Kenny's resurgent reds side bounced back from an embarrassing defeat against Bolton to register two 'season defining' wins against their rivals.
The semi final of the Carling Cup was a very entertaining game with both sides having created what they would think was enough chances to win the game. Man City have the fact they were even in a contest, to thank of Joe Hart as the keeper pulled off a string of ‘world class’ saves to thwart Liverpool.
When Edin Dzeko scored the visitor’s second goal many reds fans would be forgiven that this cruel blow and exit from the cup could be seen coming as Hart stopped them time and time again.
Cue Craig Bellamy, the player whose career was damaged by lack of football and being made to train with the youth teams by his former employer, how apt for him to step up curl the ball past a full stretch Hart to put the Anfield side through to their first Wembley final since 1996.
No time for celebrating as 72 hours later an early kick off beckoned against their arch rivals in probably one of the most famous domestic trophies in the world.
A change of formation surprised all with three central defenders being employed with Kelly and Enrique to get forward as wing backs. This just seemed to give the visitors the majority of possession with Liverpool hitting them on the counter attack, almost seemed like we were playing them at Old Trafford.
After an early Daniel Agger goal was cancelled out by Ji Sung Park the game hit a bit of a stalemate. A long ball down field, flicked on by the industrious Andy Carroll into the path of Dirk Kuyt, the striker smashing the ball past the hapless De Gea.
Anfield erupting into a cauldron of noise showing all watching on TV why the atmosphere of the ground is daunting to the most capable of opponents.
So it seems whether it is the press blowing the racism row out of proportion, the humbling at the hands of Bolton or the riot act Kenny read to the players a change in performance has been shown over the last seven days. Maybe the hunger is back and as a famous Anfield hero was once quoted saying, ‘winning is a habit, just like losing’. So maybe something has given the players this extra momentum but they need to repeat this in forthcoming league fixtures.
Everything is looking a lot rosier than it did post Bolton, we still have three goals to achieve this season - to win the Carling Cup, to win the FA Cup and to qualify for the Champions League. A week ago I thought the outside chance we had of achieving this dream was over but now the six point gap between us and the other side’s doesn’t seem so much.
With Tottenham coming to Anfield at the start of Feb this is the proverbial six pointer. The immediate focus is Wolves, a side who have been beaten often at home this season. They have a gritty manager in Mick McCarthy and he asks his players to replicate this. If we show and play with the intensity of the last two games we have too much for Wolves and should be looking for a comfortable victory.
If anyone had any doubt of Kenny’s passion for winning at the club, the emotion showed by him on realisation of his dream to take the club to Wembley once again confirmed this is the right man in the right job. Let’s hope the players keep playing for their manager as of late and keep showing that ruthless edge in getting results.