Joe Prince-Wright

Klopp slams “long ball” Man United, says “we had a better plan”

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wasn’t best pleased with only getting a point at Old Trafford against rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

That shows progress.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Liverpool led early through James Milner‘s penalty kick but they couldn’t build on a positive first half showing and in the end Jose Mourinho and United pegged them back with a direct approach.

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In the dugout Klopp had harsh words for Mourinho after Ander Herrera and Roberto Firmino clashed on the pitch, and after the game he repeatedly pointed out United’s “long ball” approach late on and wanted to make a point of how well his team played.

With the point Liverpool have fallen seven points behind league-leaders Chelsea, but they are five points ahead of rivals United. Speaking to Sky Sports, Klopp was in no doubt his side were the better team.

“Very positive performance, we were the better side, played better football and had a better plan,” Klopp said. “We changed the system a little bit and we obviously had lineup problems a little bit but the boys did really well. We played good football. Unfortunately we only scored with the penalty but I think there were other situations where we could have been a bit more clinical. Especially the last 20 minutes, United, only long balls. It was difficult. I think we would have deserved three points today but we only take one and that is okay. The performance was good and you can see it is still intense for us at the moment but still playing good football.”

The German coach has now lost just one of his seven games against Mourinho as a manager and he outwitted the Portuguese coach once again as he lined Liverpool up in an unfamiliar diamond formation in midfield from the start.

It worked marvelously well as Adam Lallana stopped Michael Carrick from playing and the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial were isolated in the first half with Georginio Wijnadlum and Emre Can shutting down the wide flanks.

Without the injured Nathaniel Clyne, plus key playmaker Philippe Coutinho only fit enough for 30 minutes and Joel Matip not getting FIFA clearance for the game, Klopp will look back on this as a good point against a United side which had won nine games in a row in all competitions heading into this game.

He knew his side had upset many people predicting a United win before the game, but the sense of his team letting two points slip was still there.

“A lot of people expected the rolling wheel, Man United, to roll on. But today we were the stick and pulled it in,” Klopp said. “I am really fine with the performance and I know it was difficult after the game in midweek and all that stuff but we got a point and we have a good performance. Tomorrow when I wake up it feels much better than in this moment. In this moment it is two points somewhere, I don’t know where…”

Klopp’s project at Liverpool is in full-flow and being disappointed with a point at in-form United when you are without several key contributors is a sign that they are now ready to become not only perennial top four contenders put title challengers.

 

Three things we learned: Man United vs. Liverpool

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Manchester United and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday as James Milner‘s penalty kick in the first half was canceled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s late header as the points were shared between the bitter rivals.

[ MORE: Player ratings ]

Jurgen Klopp looked like he’d get the better of Jose Mourinho for most of the match but Liverpool and United both remain firmly in the top four hunt.

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United

Here’s what we learned from a cagey encounter between these rivals at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Watch full match replay ] 


EMOJI GAME NOT STRONG FOR POGBA

Simply put, if you choose one of the biggest games on the planet to launch your own emoji, then make sure you play well.

Pogba, 23, didn’t do that and the most-expensive player in the world had a nightmare in several key scenarios during the game.

He lost Dejan Lovren time and time again on corner kicks in the first half and then was played through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan but scuffed his effort wide when he looked certain to score.

At the other end, Pogba then panicked when he lost sight of the ball as a corner came in and Lovren got the wrong side of him. He put his arm out and it was a clear handball as referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Pogba looked mortified.

As his new emoji spun around the adverting boards, Pogba’s head must have been spinning. For the rest of the game he tried to make up for his monumental mistake but the Frenchman was caught in possession on multiple occasions and when that happened he looked like a horse galloping in quicksand as he tried to retreat and gain the ball back from Liverpool’s small, speedy attackers.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Man United, Liverpool ] 

Following his slow start to life back at Old Trafford, Pogba had been mercurial in recent weeks as United won nine-straight games in all competitions. Against Liverpool his display stunk of someone trying too hard to impress and knowing everyone was watching him. That intense pressure shouldn’t impact Pogba, but it did. Big time.

After the initial deluge of #Pogba on the advertising boards int he first half, we didn’t see it in the second half. Brand Pogba took a big hit on Sunday.


LIVERPOOL LET OFF THE HOOK

United let Liverpool’s defense off the hook throughout this game.

Both Pogba and Henrik Mkhitaryan surged through huge gaps in Liverpool’s defense in the first half both Pogba dragged his effort wide and Mkhitaryan was denied by the brilliant Simon Mignolet in goal for Liverpool.

Mignolet also denied Ibrahimovic’s powerful low free kick in the first half and in the second half a giveaway from Trent Alexander-Arnold let Mkhitaryan race free down the right but his cross was missed by Anthony Martial under pressure.

United had the better scoring chances, by far, but looked rushed, panicked and like Pogba’s performance it seemed like the pressure was a little too much for them to handle.

For the equalizer Wayne Rooney, who had jumped off the bench at half time, used plenty of his experience to cross in and another sub, Marouane Fellaini, saw his header hit the post before Antonio Valencia pulled the ball back for Ibrahimovic to brilliantly head home. United let a much-changed Liverpool side off the hook. Simple as that.


KLOPP, MOURINHO STALEMATE… AGAIN

Klopp has now lost just one of his seven games against Mourinho as a manager and the Liverpool boss got his tactics spot on for most of the game on Sunday.

Lining up with a diamond in midfield from the start, Adam Lallana nullified Michael Carrick‘s influence and Klopp’s gameplan worked well up until the 60th minute. Mourinho had to go more direct, and it worked, but a draw was what neither manager wanted but had to begrudgingly accept. More often than not, they cancel each other out and Mourinho and Klopp now drawn four of their seven games against one another.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

For Liverpool, they are now seven points off leaders Chelsea but they are also just five points ahead of sixth-place United. It is all to play for with 17 games of the Premier League season to go as Liverpool and United drew their two games against each other this season.

What now for United? They sit 12 points behind leaders Chelsea but more importantly four points away from the top four and are just two points behind fifth-place after Man City’s defeat at Everton earlier on Sunday. United remain in the hunt but Klopp will be the happier manager after this draw at Old Trafford.

Player ratings: Manchester United vs. Liverpool

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Bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool shared the spoils at Old Trafford on Sunday in a 1-1 draw.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Who stood out? Which star names had an off day?

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]  

Below we dish out marks out of 10 for the players from both teams.


Manchester United

David De Gea: 6 – Didn’t have much to do throughout but his distribution was sublime.

Antonio Valencia: 7 – Put in yet another solid shift at right back and clipped in a great ball for Zlatan’s goal.

Phil Jones: 5 – Looked uneasy on the ball when under pressure in the first half. Shaky.

Marcos Rojo: 6 – Very similar to Jones. He’s been solid in recent weeks and improve in second half.

Matteo Darmian: 6 – A few good surges forward and nullified the threat of Origi and Firmino out wide.

Michael Carrick: 5 – Never got a chance to dictate the tempo and had Adam Lallana to worry about. Hooked off at half time.

Ander Herrera: 6 – Spaniard locked down central midfield in the second half when Carrick went off.

Anthony Martial: 5 – Looked shaky in possession and never got at Alexander-Arnold. Subbed off.

Paul Pogba: 4 – Had a nightmare. Gave a PK away, missed a glorious chance and the day his Emoji was launched (the advertising boards during the game showed it) it was a day he will want to forget quickly.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 6 – Missed a glorious chance when through one-on-one in the first half but kept plugging away and made dangerous runs in-behind.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 7 – Tremendous finish for his goal and drilled a low free kick which Mignolet saved. 10 goals in his last 10 games for Zlatan.

Subs
Wayne Rooney on for Carrick in 45th minute: 6 – Clipped in a lovely cross in the move for the equalizer and made things happen.
Juan Mata on for Martial in 65th minute: 5 – Didn’t really impact the game.
Marouane Fellaini on for Darmian in 76th minute: 6 – His presence caused problems and his header hit the post in the lead up to Zlatan’s goal.


Liverpool

Simon Mignolet: 8 – Impressive display from the Belgian who denied Zlatan and Mkhitaryan in the first half. Couldn’t do much more with the goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6 – What a debut for the 18-year-old standing in for Clyne. Did little wrong but couldn’t get forward.

Dejan Lovren: 7 – Croatian center back caused problems in the box at the other end and was almost punished for a short back pass. Handled Zlatan fairly well.

Ragnar Klavan: 6 – A few shaky clearances but a solid enough display.

James Milner: 6 – Slotted home the penalty kick but had problems with the runs of Mkhitaryan and Valencia.

Emre Can: 6 – Was good in the first half but went missing in the second as United gathered steam.

Jordan Henderson: 6 – Same as above. English midfielder looked to tire as the game went on.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 6 – Popped up with a couple of decent efforts in the box but couldn’t get control of the game with Henderson and Can.

Adam Lallana: 7 – Tireless display from the playmaker. He stopped Carrick playing and kept probing late on.

Divock Origi: 5 – Kept giving the ball away and although his pace caused problems he rarely got involved.

Roberto Firmino: 6 – The Brazilian worked his socks off and put Rojo and Jones under pressure.

Subs
Coutinho on for Origi in 60th minute: 7 – Made a big difference when he came on, calmed Liverpool down considerably.

VIDEO: Rooney’s best goals for Man United as record looms

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It looks like the stage is perfectly set for Wayne Rooney to become Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer on Sunday.

Man United host bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Rooney having equaled Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals and needing one more goal to become the all-time leading scorer in United’s illustrious history.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live

In the video above we look at the best goals Rooney, the current captain of United and the English national team, has scored throughout his glittering United career.

The 31-year-old, who has has spent 13 years with the Red Devils, is a boyhood Everton fan would surely love to seal the record in front of the home fans at Old Trafford and against their biggest rivals Liverpool.

The stage is set, Wayne…


BONUS: Below is a video special involving Rooney’s long-time teammate and United legend Ryan Giggs, plus club and country teammate Owen Hargreaves and the PL’s all-time leading goalscorer Alan Shearer on why this achievement would be so special.

Carroll on amazing bicycle kick: “I try them a lot in training”

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Andy Carroll may will never score a better goal than this in his career.

[ MORE: Wenger hails Arsenal ]

The West Ham United striker, 27, has been known for some flying acrobatic efforts in his time at both Newcastle United and Liverpool in the past but few most have felt sweeter to see hit the back of the net than his flying bicycle kick against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Carroll’s goal put the Hammers 2-0 up against Palace in the London derby and his side ran out eventual 3-0 winners to move them up into midtable and far away from the relegation zone.

Yet, after the game everyone wanted to speak about Carroll’s stunner rather than a big three points for West Ham.

“I do try them in training a lot but they don’t come off like that,” Carroll smiled. “I’ve had a few attempts this evening and been unlucky. I’m glad that one went in. I felt it [going in] straight off my boot – it was a great feeling.”

Carroll also added to the BBC Match of the Day that it’s something he’s had in his mind for years.

“I thought I’d give it another go and it’s gone in and I’m happy. It’s been a while in the making – I’ve been trying for a couple of years. It’s got to be the best goal I’ve scored,” Carroll added.

Even his manager, Slaven Bilic, admitted that he gets “a little crazy” when Carroll tries those kind of efforts in training because he is worried about the injury-prone striker going down with another knock. Yet he admits that the Hammers striker has this kind of goal in his locker.

“Andy Carroll has got it but he was unlucky in training when he was trying it – he was hitting the post or whatever,” Bilic said.

There you have it. Practice does indeed make perfect.

Click play on the video above time and time again to see a thing of perfect beauty.