Liverpool’s Premier League four-match winning haul was put to a halt on Monday night at Anfield as the Reds were forced to settle for a goalless draw against Manchester United.
Jurgen Klopp’s team was a better side in the fixture on a frustrating night as England’s most fierce rivals shared spoils in the league for the first time since 2011.
Here are the five things we learned from tonight’s blockbuster at Anfield:
Only one team wanted to played
Much to the contrast of high-pressure build-up, the encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United turned out to be quite a disappointing affair.
Having come to Anfield with clear instructions from their manager Jose Mourinho, Manchester United stifled Liverpool, who were a better team on the night. The Reds dominated possession with 65% of ball to their feet to United’s 35%, which gives plenty of insight to a rather one-sided affair.
Liverpool created nine goal attempts, three of which were on target, compared to United’s single shot on goal. The fact Red Devils earned their first and only corner kick in the match after 81 minutes speaks volumes as well.
Four yellow cards for Manchester United’s players and none for Liverpool are as well a clear indication of how the game went down.
United got what they came for
Manchester United travelled to Liverpool looking to remain unbeaten and that is exactly what they did.
Unlike Jurgen Klopp who has by now shaped his Liverpool side much to his own image, Jose Mourinho is yet to imprint character and personality into his own side, which lacks consistency early in the new season.
Having gone off to a decent start, Red Devils succumbed to a three-match losing run which put a load of pressure on Mourinho’s shoulders and the Portuguese manager simply could not have afforded to lose on the night in question.
Manchester United put in the most defensive-oriented display so far in the season, which their manager will explain by saying that an end justifies the means.
Mourinho’s bus back on track
Portuguese tactician deployed his well-documented defensive tactics at Anfield on Monday night pushing his lines back to his own half with what has been described as a 6-3-1 formation.
A wall in front of David de Gea’s goal proved to be impenetrable for industrious Liverpool players, who were frustrated by the lack of space and – from times to times – lack of will to play from Manchester United players.
Mourinho instructed his team to force long balls on Maroune Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, thus not allowing Liverpool to build-up their recognisable counter-pressure.
Manchester United’s gameplan yielded results as the Red Devils return home with a point in bag, which leaves them in seventh place on the standings, three points short of their great rivals in fourth.
Man United should glorify David de Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper was the man of the hour for the visiting side.
On two separate occasions did the Manchester United deny Liverpool from clear-cut chances, first of which came a minute shy of the hour-mark. Emre Can made himself some space inside the box and unleashed a quick low drive to the bottom left corner, but David de Gea pulled a fantastic, instinctive save to keep his net still.
Ten minutes later Manchester United goalkeeper was once again under the spotlights with his incredible flying save to deny Philippe Coutinho’s top right corner long-range effort.
Had it not been for the talented Spanish goalkeeper Manchester United would have lost the game and there is no doubt about that.
Liverpool lacked recognisable flair
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were not their usual selves.
It might be that Liverpool succumbed to pressure having gone in the game with the favourites’ tag pinned on their backs and it might be that an emotional build-up to the game took the better of them, but Klopp’s men lacked their recognisable flair.
Manchester United did their part in suffocating their high-tempo game, but the Reds struggled to find their way around the newly-found obstacle and it just might be fair to say that Jose Mourinho had a good reading of Jurgen Klopp who will have to find ways to diversify his team’s play in the future in order to avoid getting in a situation where his players are left without any ideas or solutions.
Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum were badly missed on the occasion and that is another aspect that needs to be put into consideration.
Lallana’s second-half introduction allowed Liverpool more space upfront with Firmino being pushed further upfront, but Liverpool still ended up leaving the pitch feeling rather frustrated in the end.
LIVERPOOL: Karius 6 – Clyne 6.5, Matip 6.5, Lovren 6, Milner 7 (Moreno 6) – Can 6.5, Henderson 7.5, Coutinho 7.5 – Mane 6.5, Sturidge 6 (Lallana 6.5), Firmino 6.5 (Origi 6).
Unused subs: Klavan, Mignolet, Leiva, Grujic
MAN UNITED: de Gea 7.5 – Valencia 7.5, Bailly 7, Smalling 6.5, Blind 6 – Herrera 7.5, Fellaini 6.5 – Rashford 6.5 (Rooney 6), Pogba 6.5, Young 6.5 (Shaw 6) – Ibrahimovic 6.5.
Unused subs: Carrick, Lingard, Mata, Rojo, Romero
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor