Following an intense 0-0 result at Anfield, Brendon Netto lists five things to take away from the latest clash between Liverpool and Manchester United.
Like many hyped up Premier League encounters, Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United at Anfield failed to live up to its billing.
A goalless stalemate wasn’t the best advert for the league but there was a level of intensity to speak of and some interesting points as well.
Here’s five things we learned from the 0-0 draw.
STRIKERS FAILED TO IMPRESS
This was always likely to be a game bogged down in midfield but the performances of the lone striker on either side was particularly underwhelming.
Daniel Sturridge has never had the full confidence of Jurgen Klopp and his latest outing won’t help his cause. The Englishman was anonymous throughout the game. He was completely ineffective and quite rightly hauled off after 59 minutes.
At the other end, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had another game to forget. The highly-rated striker spent most of his time tussling with defenders and seemed uninterested in trying to run in behind even when the ball was on.
The one time he did do so, he was quite poorly caught offside when he could have been clean through on goal. Most worryingly though, when United’s best chance fell to him, his header was nowhere near to finding the target.
Liverpool play was more scrappy than anything else in the first half. They needed more composure in midfield and United were happy to take up the right positions and simply nick the ball off them when they made a mistake.
Klopp was increasingly animated on the touchline, trying to get his players to – ironically – keep their heads. Jose Mourinho clearly came to Anfield with a gameplan which was executed to near perfection.
Although they were much better in the second half and should have taken the lead but for David de Gea, the limited variety to their approach is a concern.
They even tried getting a few crosses in which was incredibly misguided given that the likes of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho were up against Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini.
POGBA ROAMS BUT HERRERA STARS
Although Paul Pogba was the one afforded the free role in United’s midfield, he was arguably the least impressive. The Frenchman did show some flashes of brilliance, particularly early on when his link-up play with Ibrahimovic looked threatening, but was outshone by his teammates.
Maroune Fellaini once again thrived in a game tailored for his physical approach but it was Ander Herrera who was most impressive.
The Spaniard was excellent on the ball and strong in a tackle. His duel with Philippe Coutinho was one of the better ones on the pitch.
HOSTS LACKED COMPOSURE
In their exciting midfielders, Liverpool retain plenty of exuberance in their play but given United’s set-up cooler heads were needed. Too many times did they try to force the issue and only relinquished possession instead.
Emre Can looked off the pace and repeatedly gave the ball away. Firmino was also guilty of being a little too eager while the fact that James Milner is being played at left-back, where he’s done alright to be fair, meant the hosts missed an experienced head to direct play in midfield.
Meanwhile, Loris Karius was far from convincing in goal and could’ve been broken had United managed to test him more.
ROONEY’S INTRODUCTION SEEMED POINTLESS
Wayne Rooney made virtually no impact on the game when he replaced Marcus Rashford. The teenager didn’t have his most memorable outing either but with United pinned back in the closing stages, his pace presented an outlet.
Rooney was brought on to play on the right flank instead and while he probably wasn’t expected to storm past defenders, he failed to track runners too.
Mourinho would’ve been better served bringing on the more athletic Jese Lingard at that juncture had he felt it necessary to take Rashford off.