Obviously I was pressing my luck challenging Rick in this latest edition of the North West Darby, Liverpool versus Manchester United in the English Premier League, given that it was being played at Old Trafford and Liverpool had had decent success against ManU so far this year in Premier League and FA Cup matches. So ManU was certainly due and the odds-on favorite.
I didn't realize when I challenged Rick that every meeting between these two teams is referred to as the North West Darby. I presumed one matchup a year was set aside and given that title for bragging rights. Obviously Rick is a ManU fan and I a newly-minted Liverpool fan, thus the potential for a blog challenge; but this matchup is always a big deal given that it's a matchup between the two most storied and successful teams in the history of English pro football -- a matchup akin to the Red Sox versus the Yankees in a sport that's far, far more popular worldwide. It is also a big deal for this match because ManU is two points out of the league lead and Liverpool four points out of fourth place, which at season's end would mean a berth for them in next year's Champions League.
The drama started even before the game, given that this was the first meeting of the two sides since Luis Suarez' return from an eight-game suspension for racial abuse against ManU's Patrice Evra, and then Suarez' apparent refusal to shake Evra's hand pre-game.
I won't speak too much of the actual game play -- it's not my forte even in sports I'm literate in -- but I will say from the outset that ManU looked the better team with their precise passing, even on deep balls; whereas, Liverpool, especially when they had a break in the offensive end, lacked the communication for that last critical pass. But Glen Johnson of Liverpool missed the best opportunity of the first half, which ended scoreless. I went and took a shower, started a load of laundry and came back later than I would have thought -- 15 minutes into the second half and saw ManU was up 2-0. What did I miss? Apparently two Wayne Rooney goals. Liverpool did put on a lot of pressure late, resulting in a consolation goal for Luis Suarez at the 80 minute mark, and a couple of other great missed opportunities for the Reds, resulting in a 2-1 win for Manchester United.
Well, on to the next match for Liverpool, with particular focus on the upcoming Carling Cup final and 5th round matchup in the FA Cup. So if Liverpool does fall short of the top 4, winning those cups will make the season. They have only themselves to blame, given how many ties Liverpool has had this season against the bottom third of the Premier League.
(Note: I know how to spell derby but for effect I'm spelling it the way it's pronounced over there)