MANCHESTER UNITED 0 - 0 LIVERPOOL
Today’s Northwest Derby is Jurgen Klopp’s 200th game in charge of the Reds. Manchester United has been on a bit of a streak, winning 3 points against Burnley during a mid-week clash in which Paul Pogba decided to show up - hell, he even scored one. And while the title race will probably still come down to Liverpool and Manchester City, today’s game has a bunch of other stuff at stake - our Anfield record, honour, glory, pride, the state of Football Twitter if United fans are allowed a win, etc.
Joel Matip, though rumoured to be fit, is not in the starting lineup. In better news, Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri are - which means that Jordan Henderson will partner Fabinho at centre-back. Not ideal, but we’re working with what we’ve got. Up the Reds!
Liverpool starts off with an energetic press, and looks comfortable in possession. Shaqiri and Thiago are heavily involved and are commanding the game. The positives end there, since the tempo is brought down to a grind by United’s parked bus. Their game plan is to either ping the ball to Marcus Rashford on the break, or try to win a free-kick or penalty. Andy Robertson gets himself in a few good positions, but is unable to find the net. Bobby Firmino receives a silky pass from Sadio Mane around 16’, but hits it without conviction and it goes wide off David De Gea’s net. He misplaces another shot a few minutes later, while Shaqiri gets a shot deflected. Overall, Liverpool have been overthinking easy moves - passes have been wastefully misplaced and finishing hasn’t been sharp. The tempo of the game has been battered by United’s slow throw-ins and multiple offside calls. We didn’t expect silky possession play, but entertain us and maybe do a goal in the second half, LFC?
Liverpool start off looking organized and progressive, but as half wears on they get increasingly sloppy. The last 20 minutes are dominated by United creating chances out of set pieces (corners mostly) and they certainly look a better team than they did in the first half. Bruno Fernandes hits a shot from close to the net at 74’ but Alisson ankles it away. Thiago attempts a few out-of-the-box shots that are slapped away by De Gea. A Marcus Rashford counter-attack run at 82’ is managed wonderfully and assertively by Fabinho (who has been vital throughout this half) - he hits the ball out of play. Alisson makes another critical save soon after, batting away a powerful right-footed shot by Paul Pogba. The half ends 0-0.
Overall, Liverpool showed intent and enjoyed significant spells of possession, but were sloppy with their finishing and couldn’t break through United’s packed defence. That, and a shocking number of set pieces and questionable refereeing decisions in United’s favour made this a tough game to watch, and they remain top of the table with an added point in hand from Anfield.