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Liverpool 1, Manchester United 2: First Thoughts

A poor first half and a maddening red card condemned Liverpool to defeat at Anfield.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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Liverpool 1 Sturridge 69'
Manchester United 2 Mata 14', 59'

  • Pre-match thoughts: Brendan Rodgers had a big decision to make ahead of a  with Steven Gerrard and he kept with the same team that won against Swansea City earlier in the week. Lucas Leiva and Mario Balotelli joined the club captain on the bench at the expense of the injured Dejan Lovren and the dropped Lazar Marković. Louis van Gaal kept faith with the same team that dismissed Tottenham Hotspur with Ángel Di María returning from suspension and Marco Rojo joining his compatriot after recovering from injury.

  • In the early exchanges, Manchester United showed a glimpse of the danger Fellaini could pose in the air when he nods the ball on for runners. Raheem Sterling also displayed the pace that Daley Blind could struggle with as he entered the area before David de Gea scooped up the loose ball. The away side was more confident and dominant on the ball in the opening fifteen minutes with Alberto Moreno particularly jittery in possession. Ander Herrera played an accurate through ball for Juan Mata who sharply finished for the first goal of the match and Manchester United looked like the home side.

  • Manchester United were comfortable and dominant for the first half hour. Liverpool's slow start against Swansea was repeated at Anfield. Manchester United spread out in possession, were compact in central areas cutting off passing lanes to Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana, and found Marouane Fellaini with direct balls. Liverpool were chasing shadows.

  • On 35 minutes, Liverpool almost equalised through Adam Lallana after Jordan Henderson's raking pass found Daniel Sturridge who cushioned the ball into the path of the unmarked Lallana who fired narrowly wide with de Gea beaten. Lallana should have scored. Coutinho was finding more space in deeper positions after Liverpool shifted to a diamond in midfield.

  • Half-time thoughts: For the second time in a week, Liverpool reach the interval with work to do but had to come from behind instead of thanking Fowler for parity after a difficult first half. Alberto Moreno, Joe Allen, and Raheem Sterling were particularly poor. Steven Gerrard came on for Lallana to help Liverpool control the midfield.

  • Steven Gerrard lasted less than a minute after correctly being sent off for a stamp on Mata. It was completely stupid decision by the captain who will probably get a three-match ban and should see the rest of the season from the bench. 

  • Manchester United doubled the lead through a lovely acrobatic strike from Mata after the Spanish international played a one two with Di María. Alberto Moreno was culpable for losing Mata far too easily. Liverpool responded to both setbacks with a better performance with ten men and Mario Balotelli came on for the desperately poor Moreno to give Daniel Sturridge more support. The home side pulled a goal back a couple of minutes after the substitution through Daniel Sturridge.

  • Liverpool toiled in pursuit of an equaliser as Manchester United were faced with a situation where there was everything to lose. Balotelli drew a save from de Gea. There was a late penalty that Simon Mignolet wonderfully saved to keep Wayne Rooney from adding to the score.

  • Full-time thoughts: A home defeat and an international break. Liverpool need points when the side returns to action. Liverpool are five points behind the top four and need to ensure that sluggish first halves from this week aren't repeated in the future.

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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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