You’ll Never Walk Alone
So no prizes for guessing I’m at Anfield in the continuing search for the impossible treble. Will Liverpool exact revenge for Manchester United putting them out of the FA Cup a few short months ago. Let’s be honest – United didn’t just put Liverpool out of the cup – they shattered their whole season in the process as reported here at the time on Suite 101. So to put it mildly, the three points were not going to be won easily. A packed house and atmosphere to match the occasion, pun intended.
Liverpool got their usual 44,000 crowd in the stadium, were they finally going to produce something worth talking about by Merseyside standards for their fans and of course go a long way towards spoiling the dream for Utd at the same time? Would Macca (Steve MacManamin) actually forget that he was off to Real Madrid and play like he used to before the money sucked him in? Would Karl Heinz Riedle actually get a goal in 1999? Would Paul Ince put a spanner in the works of his old club? Would Roy Keane get booked again by this ref? Well OK, we know Roy will get at least a yellow from this guy. But the anticipation – indeed expectation of something great about to happen was palpable.
The Gunners have a North London Derby going on at the same time at White Hart Lane against their Totenham counterparts and so the evening was set for drama all round. Any slip-ups could and would be punished. The whistle blows and United weather the expected Liverpool storming beginning. Frantic exchanges are the norm and it’s not a place to recommend blinking. Manchester United are not on the crest of where they are for nothing and their sheer class shows through when a clever Keane to Beckham to Keane to Beckham free kick sets up the almost patented Beckham foot to Yorke head goal and the Spion Kop is stunned. You just have to admire it. Deservedly, they go in at half time a goal up. Arsenal are doing the same thing to Spurs and you have to wonder – it’s not really that easy, these guys are good.
The second half is the same helter skelter. Then Utd get a penalty – it’s a close call but I’ve seen worse given. The drama here is that Irwin has just missed his first penalty for Utd against the Villa a few days ago and this is Anfield. This is huge. It’s a beauty and too cool for words.
Liverpool bring on Berger – they need him. The response is good but the drama has subsided somewhat. This game needs a Liverpool goal. My thoughts exactly, says the ref as he awards a strange, dubious, questionable, precarious, and otherwise suspicious penalty to the home reds this time. Didn’t look like a penalty to me, or Bloomquist I’ll wager.
Redknapp deposits a lucky one and the game is back on. Liverpool are awesome going forward now and we have twenty minutes or so to watch. It was a siege and it was great. Irwin commits an act of stupidity in kicking the ball away, a relatively harmless action but a bookable offence. The ensuing yellow card just happens to add to his wild tackle yellow received earlier, thus becoming red in colour and ending Denis active participation in the proceedings. The tragedy is he misses the FA Cup Final at Wembley because of this silly kick of a ball but that’s another story.
Berger continues to cause trouble and you get a sense that it’s only a matter of time before Liverpool convert a chance to tie the game. The Kop just wonders why Liverpool couldn’t play like this all season long but at least they’re getting value tonight. As if scripted, it’s Ince who delivers the killer finish to more good work in the box and the score is 2-2.
What does all this mean? Arsenal have two games left and can possibly reach 81 points. Manchester United have three games left, not counting their two cup finals, and they can also reach 81 points. What then you ask? Well, goals become the deciding factor if they finish level on points and they are incredibly close on this also. As I write the Arsenal goal difference is one superior to Man U. So watch this space, the next 10 days will finally tell the tale, and so will I. You’ll never walk alone.