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Manchester United 1, Liverpool 0: First Thoughts

Luis Suarez's return to action was a fruitless one as Liverpool fell to defeat in the League Cup against arch-rivals Manchester United, all thanks to the boot of Javier Hernandez.

Julian Finney

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Manchester United 1 Hernandez 46'
Liverpool 0

  • Liverpool started with a back three with Toure on the right, Skrtel in the centre, and Sakho on the left. It helped Enrique to have some cover behind him in the form of Sakho on the left side and the Spaniard produced a solid first half performance. Liverpool felt comfortable to leave Sturridge and Suarez up in the first quarter of the hour but Manchester United saw up to 57-58% possession in that period without looking threatening. The system Brendan Rodgers utilised in the early stages looked dangerous on the counter attack and by 25 minutes, Liverpool edged possession by the half hour mark.

  • Suarez's return has provided greater urgency in attack and provided greater confidence after a disappointing result in the last game. There were a couple of moments in the first half where Suarez showed how well he can combine with other players and that will be vital in the coming months.

  • Liverpool being defensively organised seems to be a regular and expected part of our game now. After recruiting heavily in this area in the summer, Rodgers appears to be enjoying the tactical flexibility and wider personnel options that are available to him. In the first game of the season at Stoke, Liverpool's first half organisation was surprising but after seven games it is clear that Liverpool can be generally counted on to be parsimonious in defence.

  • Liverpool pressed for an equaliser in the second half and that was heartening. Manchester United no longer possess the fear or Fergie factor they once had. Liverpool have a new factor in play and that's the Mignolet factor. Liverpool's number 22 is already a key player and manages to dig the club out of a hole with stunning saves. He looked composed throughout the game in the air and his distribution will most likely improve over time. Another factor we've become familiar with in 2013 is the Sturridge factor but that was absent for most of the game when it came to picking passes, timing the release of the ball, and some of his movement. An rare poor outing from Liverpool's sharp edge.

  • Suarez was one of the Liverpool's better performers and the performance from Liverpool was a decent one. No second half goals against Premier League opposition this season and another case of set pieces, set pieces, set pieces. Two defeats on the trot but it feels like a step forward of sorts from the performance against Southampton.

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.

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