Let’s not beat around the bush: This is a game that Liverpool, at home, should’ve won.
Instead, Manchester United barely passed its first major test of the Premier League season.
Let’s dig into the why.
Revolution No. 9, No. 9, No. 9
There are two positions that ail Liverpool, and they are the main reason the Reds will not challenge for a Premier League title this season despite their bevy of electric and dizzying attackers.
The first is a bit harder to digest if you take a myopic view of Saturday’s contest, because Romelu Lukaku was one of Manchester United’s more disappointing performers.
But if you plugged Lukaku or the starting frontman from any of the other main competitors into Liverpool’s lineup, the Reds win 2-0 or 3-0 Saturday.
Lacazette, Morata, Kane, Lukaku, they are all burying a biscuit or two on Saturday, to borrow a hockey term. And perhaps this is the main reason Liverpool’s Merseyside rival will also struggle to meet its goals. We can talk 3-5-2, or 4-5-1, or 3-4-3, but that Alan Shearer or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang type remains as important as ever in football.
De Gea, the king
Simon Mignolet is a fine keeper, and gets far more grief than he should due to his position as the backstop on an important world club in Liverpool.
But just like striker, this is one position where Liverpool lags beyond its competition. Lloris, De Gea, Ederson, Cech, Courtois… is there any doubt where Mignolet (or Loris Karius) ranks?
Let’s not make this just about Liverpool, though: De Gea was fantastic again on Saturday, assuring any voter who plugged him into the Ballon d’Or Top 25 that the right decision has been made regarding this year’s top keepers.
His leg save on Joel Matip in the first half was marvelous, but — warning: another hockey reference — De Gea reminds me of former USA and Buffalo Sabres backstop Ryan Miller in his prime, in that he is always in position to make extraordinary saves look routine. How often is a well-hit shot right into his safe arms, looking far less dangerous than it should? Often.
Disappointing Man Utd does Mourinho’s bidding
United is off to its joint-best points haul to start a Premier League season, and it could very well have had its best ever had one moment went its way.
Lukaku moved into the 18 during the first half and saw Mignolet make an excellent save on his hard shot toward the center of the goal.
While that point admittedly flies in the face of the above two things, the fact is Lukaku finishing that chance makes this result an essential pair to any number of Mourinho’s 1-0 defensive masterclasses at Chelsea.
Let’s face it: With respect to Phil Jones and Co., Mourinho is again producing clean sheet after clean sheet without impenetrable components. Eric Bailly has the chance to move into an elite class, but right now this is just vintage Mourinho.
Given the entertainment value, we have to add a ‘like it or not.’