What a fantastic game. Obviously it was made more fantastic by a victory, but the game as a great advertisement for soccer as a whole and showed how great the FA Cup still can be. For the neutrals out there, I'm sure this game was a delight to watch.
As a whole, I didn't care for the formation and it showed. Scholes bossed the midfield nearly the entire time he was on the pitch. The game turned and Liverpool got hold of the midfield once Scholes' ancient legs needed a rest. It will be massive to have Wee Jay Spearing back.
These two victories have capped a wonderful week for the Reds. This squad must surely be brimming with confidence now and hopefully can go on to start turning woodwork into goals and draws in victories in the push for 4th.
On another note, if you hadn't heard, the FA did away with the pregame handshakes in the QPR v Chelski game. I wonder if they'll do the same for our trip to Old Trafford.
The ratings after the jump and poll:
Reina - 8 - One of the things that sets Reina apart from the rest is his pinpoint passing, especially off the punt. It was a fantastic pass to find Carroll's head. He gets the second assist for that (too bad this isn't hockey or that would mean something). Other than that, he made a few great plays as a sweeper-keeper and was there when needed. Not much he could do on the goal.
Kelly - 8 - He was phenomenal. Defensively he was a stud and he even provided some decent support for the attack. He completely shut down his side of the pitch. He has made a good case for his inclusion in the first 11 more often. I would like to see it as at RM if he can't be the RB.
Agger - 8 - Well taken header for the goal. Maybe he can give Carroll some lessons. The backline held United to very little in terms of chances. They just kept them passing around the box and cut out any attempts at through passing. This is why United had so much possession and so few chances.
Skrtel - 7 - Another great game from him as well. He and Agger are the real deal. They were commanding in and around the box.
Enrique - 6 - He was responsible for the first goal. However, it was an odd touch that took it back the other way for Valencia to smash into the box. Outside of that though, he kept Valencia fairly well contained on the right.
Carragher - 6 - I forgot him in my first post. Probably because he was that anonymous. That said, I do think he did a decent job of playing a holding mid. Let's actually be honest, it was more of a fifth defender playing just in front of Agger and Skrtel and he didn't look too comfortable. He got the job done and his work ensured few through balls for Welbeck to feed on.
Downing - 7 - He gets a 7 because he actually did very well in tracking back, it was a solid effort athat worked out well. He did put in a few decent crosses, but the more I watch Liverpool, the less I blame him. There simply aren't any bodies in the box for him to cross to. He again looked much livelier when he switched to the left side. Kenny, please take note of this...again.
Gerrard - 7 - I was shocked to see him subbed as he was one of the more effective players in setting up the counterattacks. He likely would have thrived once Scholes was out of the game. Either way, he did well to trying and collect the ball deep and push the team forward.
Henderson - 6 - I like what I am seeing from him. He hasn't been spectacular, but he shows up a few times a game with a moment of class. He and Carroll were superb at killing off the injury time down in the corner and he works his ass off, much of which I know flies under the radar. While his performances haven't been out of this world, the thing I like is I see improvement every game. He is young so I think he might actually mature into his role in a year or two, much like Lucas did.
Maxi -5 - One good shot early one. Other than that, he was wasteful and useless and looked like a lost puppy out there on the pitch.
Carroll (The first 80') - 4 - He was awful. Wasteful, lolloping and lazy. He didn't challenge United's back four and didn't put them under any pressure. His flicks were poor and straight to DeGea (which actually might not have been a bad idea to flick them at DeGea. Never know what he might do) and were completely wasted. It was further frustrating because many of the flicks were in situations where clearly no one would be running onto them. He failed to use his height or size and was beaten to far too many balls. It was bad.
Carroll (The final 10') - 8 - It was a superb flick onto Kuyt. Unlike earlier, the situation clearly warranted a flick and what a beauty it was. Then, brimming with confidence, he and Henderson collaborated to effectively run out all the injury time in the corner by the Kop. I hope to God this gives him the confidence he needs to go forward and be a productive member of this team. As pointed out in a comment by kennv, he also headed off the bar in this time.
Adam - 6 - He did a good job of shoring up the midfield, albeit when Scholes was off. He got his token dumb foul in and made a few nice passes. Not great, not bad.
Kuyt - 8 - The usual work rate and it paid dividends today. A brilliant run off of Carroll, and a sweet strike on the volley. I wasn't happy about him coming on, but I was proven wrong.
Bellamy - 7 - He was lively in his short cameo. Carroll, please take note and try to emulate for 90 minutes.