EPL: Day 35 (Manchester United 0 – Liverpool 1)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
April 24th, 2004 • 3:11 am

More trouble today for the champions at Old Trafford… To be true, it was a terribly boring game, until the penalty awarded to Liverpool was put in the net by Danny Murphy. Then Liverpool seemed to gain some confidence and threatened to score a second (without any real chances, however), and then Manchester United finally woke up, with less than 20 minutes to play, and tried to get back into the game. But it was too little, too late, as they say.

While it is true that Manchester United were missing some key players, such as van Nistelrooy and Scholes, you’d still expect them to do better against a Liverpool team that is so far behind in the table. Liverpool performed adequately, and this victory will probably help maintain the illusion that Houillier is doing a decent job. But really neither team was very threatening and it’s telling that it took a penalty to break the deadlock.

Interestingly, as the commentator reminded us, this is the first penalty awarded and transformed at Old Trafford in over 10 years! There have long been suspicions of a double standard in referees when it comes to punishing Man U defenders at Old Trafford. Maybe this is the start of some kind of readjustment. This particularly penalty was won by Gerrard and certainly fully deserved.

The fact remains that Manchester United are having a nightmare of a run in the league at the moment. It’s their 8th defeat of the season, and their 5th in 2004. The lack of any competition for 3rd spot only goes so far in explaining the apparent lack of motivation.

With one of Manchester’s three remaining fixtures being at home against Chelsea, one has to wonder whether this team will be able to catch up with Ranieri’s men, who play at Newcastle tomorrow. On the other hand, if Chelsea don’t win tomorrow and Arsenal manage to beat Spurs (not an unlikely scenario), the Gunners could clinch the title with 4 games left to play!

I must say that, at the moment, there seems to be a world of difference between the champions elect and the rest of the league, including 2nd place Chelsea and 3rd place Manchester United. Let’s hope that the Gunners are able to maintain this form for as long as possible.

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