farlieonfootie woke up this morning to discover a Christmas-like miracle: Two columns -- make sure to read them both! -- and the latter one by our debut correspondent Scott, a red of a different color than we're used to here at corporate headquarters. A died-in-the-wool Liverpool fan, Scott is still trying to shake his man-crush on Fernando Torres in favor of newboy Andy Carroll: After a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, a different type of tragedy struck Mancini’s Man City, in the form of a debut brace by Andy Carroll and a brilliantly poised strike (unlike his later header “attempt”) by Dirk Kuyt, for good measure. Despite a ridiculous possession statistic supplied by ESPN Deportes around the 40 minute mark showing Man City with 72% of the ball in the previous 5 minutes (which proved to be an anomaly), Liverpool dominated this contest throughout. From Carroll’s finishing, to Suarez’s relentless pressure, Spearing’s (where did he come from?) well-timed tackles and Carragher/Skrtels’s solid defense, it was Liverpool’s day. The pace of the game was of the usual, frenetic EPL variety. Suarez’s shot is tipped onto the post by Hart, Carroll rips a zinger from outside the box, Kuyt skillfully ruffles the inside of the side netting before Carroll muscles a header/own goal – all within the first 35 minutes. As a Liverpool fan, it was a dream come true (with the exception that I have Suarez on my fantasy team, and not Carroll). Still, thinking of the greater good, I applaud the efforts of a team that is rallying so well after the disheartening loss to West Bromwich Albion (and their former, sacked manager) only a week before. Perhaps hearing me say this out loud to myself, the nearly prepubescent John Flanagan muscles the beefy Mario Balotelli off a long ball played up the middle.
Even the deluge that slickened the field couldn't damper the work rate of the Reds – Miereles and Kuyt were indefatigable in the midfield. Although maybe the rain played a factor in the mythical injury to Balotelli’s upper side buttocks.... Grabbing the body part that many in the viewing audience were calling him, the theatrical Italian lay on the pitch until a gentleman in red kicked the ball out of bounds. Even my 7-year-old son knows not to waste time when you are down by 3 goals. It should be noted that the industrious and multi-talented Carlos Tevez was sadly forced from the game in the 17th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. His spark was clearly missing tonight from the Man City offense, which hardly ever threatened until the introduction of David Silva midway through the second half. The dual offensive threat of Carroll and Suarez, however, seems to be proving John Henry and Kenny Dalglish an owner/manager team of considerable foresight. Up 3-0 with only 20 minutes to go, the Carroll/Skrtel conga line that formed during each Liverpool corner seemed more of a celebration of the inevitable than any offensive maneuvering to slip clean of their respective defenders. Such imagery must be excusable given that, in the waning minutes, even the perpetually-scarved Mancini seemed to admit not only defeat but also his own poor management, as he yanked the petulant Balotelli, who had earlier come on for the injured Tevez, in favor of the mercurial De Jong (he of Stuart Holden-broken-leg infamy), perhaps thinking his henchman might inflict some damage to one of the gentlemanly Liverpudlians. Alas, and fortunately, De Jong proved as ineffective at this task as the balance of his team at scoring and, despite Man City’s 8 point superiority in the table, they were clearly inferior to the spirited Liverpool squad tonight.