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Manchester United 3, Liverpool 1: First Thoughts

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After a tedious and uninspiring first half, Liverpool succumbed to defeat in a second half that boasted some special goals.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

Manchester United 3 Blind 49', Herrera 70 (pen)', Martial 86'
Liverpool 1 Benteke 84'

  • Pre-match thoughts: Brendan Rodgers decided to maddeningly and stubbornly stick with the inadequate Dejan Lovren in defence. Philippe Coutinho and Wayne Rooney were notable absentees from a game where both teams had much to prove. Danny Ings made his first start for Liverpool alongside Christian Benteke.

  • In the first ten minutes, Liverpool showed frustrating lack of composure at the back. Sloppy play from Martin Škrtel and Simon Mignolet could have given the home side a couple of easy chances to take the lead. If only Liverpool had a composed centre back with experience and quality on the the ball in the squad.

  • As the first half approached the 25 minute mark, Liverpool seemed content to sit deep and work off scraps on the counter. Manchester United recorded nearly 65% possession but couldn't muster a shot on target in a cagey encounter that lacked any fire or excitement. Liverpool, however, couldn't 

  • Where's the philosophy or football from Liverpool? Manchester United fans could very well ask the same question. Not impressive from both sides at all after 30 mins of uninspired football.

  • Manchester United's 4231 and Liverpool's 433 have brought nothing. Having said that, a point for Liverpool would be better considering it's an away game and Liverpool took no points there last season.

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Half-time thoughts: No shots on target from either side and one of the worst halves of football in this great fixture. Both sides have done very little, but that's probably more damning for the home side than the away side. The plan from Brendan Rodgers appears not to concede but do little else, which appears unsustainable with a bit of improvement from Louis van Gaal's side.

  • Well. The home side unfortunately took the lead on 49 minutes through a set piece. Juan Mata cut the ball back to Daley Blind who finished expertly from 18 yards into the top corner. There was nobody around him.

  • Two chances for Liverpool on 55 and 57 minutes as the away side finally show some attacking intent approaching the hour mark. A less than convincing clearance from the untested David de Gea leads to a cross that Chris Smalling had to clear off the line. De Gea redeemed himself by thwarting  Danny Ings a couple of minutes later.

  • The pendulum of fate has swung. On 65 minutes, Roberto Firmino should have restored parity with an open-ish goal after Ings was denied by Daley Blind on the line. Five minutes later, Joe Gomez poorly conceded a penalty through inexperience that Ander Herrera confidently blasted away. Game over?

  • What a goal from Christian Benteke. An early contender for goal of the season. An overhead kick of exceptional quality after the ball hung in the air for what seemed to be an age. Superb technique from Liverpool's number nine. Liverpool back in with a shout?

  • According to Anthony Martial, no. The youngster on his debut after coming on as a substitute scored a goal that was simply out of the Thierry Henry playbook. He ghosted past Škrtel too easily on the left before opening up his body to pass the ball into the opposite corner beyond Mignolet.

  • Full-time thoughts: Liverpool's excessive caution and ineptitude on the ball made it easy for Manchester United for much of the game. The away side came into life after conceding, but to be honest, both sides still have a lot to prove. For Brendan Rodgers, there will be more questions for him to answer than Louis van Gaal.

liverpool blog fc sbn

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.