Welbeck savours big win
Danny Welbeck enjoyed both the historical and current context as Manchester United beat Liverpool for the eighth time in nine Barclays Premier League meetings at Old Trafford.
It was no Sunday stroll for the Mancunian striker and his team-mates, but after an industrious 90-minute shift in the Reds’ attack, he welcomed the fruits of his side’s labour.
“Liverpool are our all-time rivals and it [the match] is a great occasion for both cities,” Welbeck said. “Obviously I know what it’s like, being a Manchester lad growing up through the ranks. It’s been drilled into us ever since I was a little kid. Beating Liverpool is really big for us and I’m delighted to get the three points.”
Welbeck felt Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics worked a treat, certainly in the first period when Liverpool were often pinned back and United took the lead through “a great team goal” by Robin van Persie in the 19th minute. “We had our game plan set up and I think it really worked well in the first half,” said Welbeck.
“In the second half, I think Liverpool got into it towards the back end of the game. It was tense. We could feel the pressure they were putting us under for the last 10 to 15 minutes. The main thing was to stay compact, get behind the ball and defend well as a team. I think in the end that’s what we did. I think we dug in really well and it was a great team performance.
“It was a really good team move [for the first goal]. We passed the ball well, we switched it across the pitch and we penetrated the lines really well. And once Pat got into the wide position, and squared it to Robin, we knew that Robin had the quality to finish it off. Robin is different class. He produces moments in games that others can’t. We’re glad to have him on our side and putting the ball in the back of the net, as he did again today.”
Liverpool sent on their own predator for the second half, replacing defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva with new signing Daniel Sturridge. And having played with the former Chelsea striker for England Under-21s, Welbeck wasn’t surprised to see him make an impact.
“We all know Sturridge is a quality player and he’s got that goalscoring instinct,” he said. “Once he came on the pitch we had to set up a little bit differently. I think we should have tightened more and done a bit more to stop Sturridge running in to finish it [to score for Liverpool]. But we’ll learn from that. It’s something we won’t want to happen again.”
Fortunately, United were already 2-0 up when substitute Sturridge pulled the goal back for the visitors. But there was initially some confusion over who scored the winner, eventually credited to Nemanja Vidic.
“I didn’t notice [Vidic],” said Welbeck. “I just saw Pat [Evra] get his head to it. I wanted him to square it to me, to be honest, but I thought it was Pat’s goal. He’ll be a bit disappointed because everyone seemed to celebrate as if it was his goal.
“But to get the three points was the most important thing and everyone’s delighted in the changing room. It’s a massive win and it’s a great afternoon for us, to be able to go back home, put our feet up and see how the Manchester City game [away to Arsenal] pans out.”
As for his own performance, worthy of at least a nomination for ManUtd.com’s Man of the Match poll, Welbeck said: “I’ve got to work hard in the game and when I get my chance to play, I want to show what I can do and try my best for the team. That’s the most I can do and I’m not going to give anything less than that.”