Just when it seemed like Liverpool was on course for a fourth successive home victory against bitter rivals Manchester United, the defending champions managed to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw. The opening period was rather dull, but both teams came alive in the second half, delivering an exciting game with a nail biting finish.
Steven Gerrard marked his return to the starting lineup with a brilliant free kick to open the scoring account for the Reds. However, 13 minutes later, Chicharito - who had only been on the field for 5 minutes - scored from close range off a Danny Welbeck cross.
Big games like this aren't without their fair share of "tough calls". There was a missed "handball" call against Jonny Evans; and even though it was not deliberate, other referees might have pointed to the penalty spot.
The biggest call however, was the foul that lead to Gerrard's opener. While Charlie Adam made a good break into the heart of United's defense, he went to the floor rather easily on the lightest of challenges from Rio Ferdinand; and had the United defender received his marching orders, the match would have likely taken an entirely different course. Ferdinand had been booked earlier on a seemingly light challenge on Luis Suarez.
David de Gea did his best to position both his wall and himself in anticipation of a shot at goal, but Ryan Giggs was at fault when he ducked to protect himself, rather than stand his ground and block Gerrard's shot. There wasn't really much de Gea could have done to stop the ball from going in.
It was at this point that Sir Alex decided to introduce Wayne Rooney and Nani into the game. Many, including myself, felt that Rooney should been in the starting lineup. I'm certain that this is one of those weeks that he would rather forget; as he prepares to appeal a 3 match ban (that will likely cost him his place in the national team) handed to him by UEFA, in the wake of his sending off against Montenegro last Tuesday. No one really knows what Fergie is thinking sometimes, so might as well just hope for the best with whatever he selection he fields.
When Fergie introduced Chicharito - a decision that paid off when the Mexican found the back of the net with less than 10 minutes left - United's attack awakened, but they couldn't really capitalize any further as Liverpool's swarming defense took away most of the space that United rely on for creativity.
Other than Chicharito, I'd have to give Rio Ferdinand his just due. The oft injured veteran, who was walking on very thin ice following his earlier booking, managed to find a way to neutralize the ever dangerous Luis Suarez. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish tabbed the Uruguayan to be the difference maker if his team was to emerge victorious, but Ferdinand showed that he's still got gas in the tank despite the serious challenge posed by United's young guns.
Also very much deserving of a standing ovation is David de Gea, who's performance today should go a long way toward silencing his critics. Other than Gerrard's goal, for which he was totally blameless, de Gea made huge saves late in the game to help preserve a point for United, when Liverpool clearly had other plans.
All in all, a draw may not seem like a fair result for either team, but that’s what they get. United have now dropped to 2nd place following Manchester City's 4-1 win over Aston Villa. For what it's worth, it only adds more spice to next week's Manchester Derby.