Liverpool – Manchester United: Liverpool’s miserable run in front of goal cost it first place and three points in a 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.
The Reds were the better team for most of the match but failed to find a way through Harry Maguire and David De Gea despite nearly doubling their visitors pass attempts.
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Liverpool remains three points back of table-leading Manchester United, and sit two behind Leicester City. Manchester City will go second and boast the best points-per-game in the league if it beats Crystal Palace later Sunday.
Manchester United showed little threat for 70 minutes but could’ve well taken all the points via two dangerous spurts in the final stages of the game.
Three things we learned from Liverpool – Manchester United
1. Reds missing sharpness, not life in ‘gulf in class’ first 45: Liverpool dominated the first half with 66 percent possession and a 9-1 shot attempt advantage while more than doubling United’s complete passes (300-128). United did find its footing deep into the second half — more on that in Thing No. 2 — but Harry Maguire was the main reason the Red Devils stayed in this match. The Red Devils captain was playing dueling star center backs with Fabinho over the course of 90 minutes, and it can be argued that Maguire’s nickname could be Houdini for the illusion that the Red Devils and Reds had played an even match for 70 minutes.
2. United comes to life late: Maybe the Red Devils planned it, maybe they got tired of being on the back foot, or maybe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer figured out the answer to Liverpool, but the Red Devils could’ve well claimed all of the points over the final 20 minutes, when Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford all looked a threat to break the scoreless deadlock.
34 – Manchester United's first shot of the game came in the 34th minute; their longest wait from the start of a Premier League game for their first attempt since their previous game at Anfield in January 2020 (40th minute). Adventure. #LIVMNU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 17, 2021
3. Klopp’s frustration bleeding into players? Jurgen Klopp has been unusually ornery with the media this season, challenging questions and building narratives on numerous occasions. Obviously the team’s on-field struggles are magnifying moments on the pitch, but early second-half gestures of frustration from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah seemed a bit much for the occasion (even in a derby). Like many of us in this pandemic, Liverpool could probably benefit from a proper vacation.
Man of the Match: Harry Maguire
Fabinho was monstrous and Alisson Becker had some incredible moments between the sticks but Maguire is the reason United managed a point at Anfield and remains atop the Premier League table: Six clearances, five blocked shots, three interceptions, and five-for-five in duels.
Liverpool – Manchester United recap
Liverpool had the better of the opening moments but needed a fine tackle from Andy Robertson to deny Marcus Rashford an 18th-minute scoring chance off a Fred feed.
Xherdan Shaqiri had a swerving effort deflected to start a pair of corner kicks that ultimately led to a Paul Pogba giveaway and Mohamed Salah hammer over the goal.
It was all Liverpool, albeit sloppy Liverpool, when Luke Shaw drove the middle and won a United free kick. Bruno Fernandes was close, but no.
Salah then led a rush that saw Roberto Firmino saved by David De Gea, and United went the other way only to be stymied by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s run all the way from the right flank to the left side of the box.
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United had moments in attack during the early stages of the second half, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho stepping in to thwart the efforts.
Alisson bailed out his defense’s rare moment of weakeness when Rashford and Shaw set up Fernandes for a point-blank chance.
The Liverpool keeper was one of the stars of the second half, bailing out his backs a few times as Jordan Henderson’s use at center back wasn’t necessarily a mistake but also wasn’t a success (despite the zero on the board).