Hey look, Liverpool CAN score goals! And more than just one! While the final scoreline ultimately ended up with Liverpool losing the Manchester United, there’s at least a little bit of a feel good factor in seeing some players come alive (at least at moments). At the end of the day, Liverpool lost a pretty meaningless game in the FA Cup, but maybe, just maybe, are showing that they are turning a corner offensively.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
People Paid To Score Goals
Look, it still wasn’t consistently good, but Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino finally combined to get the ball in the net for Liverpool twice. Salah still wasn’t great overall, but his finishes, especially the first one, were coolly taken efforts. Salah also started popping up in more dangerous areas. Both of his goals were finished from central areas well within the box, which was something he had not really done this season.
He finished with four shots on target from six total shots. That is much more like the old Salah as far as the volume and quality goes.
Firmino, on the other hand, had one of his better games in recent memory. He led the team with four key passes, and seemed to really find his touch. His pass for Salah’s first goal was sublime, and the through ball he played to the Egyptian in the second half that Salah could only hit weakly with his right foot was sensational. This was the most we have seen Bobby pull the strings throughout the course of the game in quite some time.
People Paid To Not Let The Other Team Score Goals
Rhys Williams is 19, and has been thrust into a semi-regular starting role due to injuries, so let’s refrain from slagging him off. He doesn’t have enough experience to read the game well enough to make up for his lack of speed, and he’s being asked to play an aggressive high line with very little help. He made an error and misplayed the ball leading to Man United’s second goal, and was picked on all day by Marcus Rashford, but he has done about as well as you could expect in the situation.
Fabinho was better, but still made some crucial mistakes, especially by lunging in at times where he should play more upright. His foul on Cavani, however soft it was, led to the third goal. Fabinho has to know that the attacker was going to look for any contact around the legs in that spot.
Trent Alexander-Arnold still looks completely out of sorts on both sides of the ball. He was beat several time on the dribble, and his defensive positioning was pretty poor.
Andrew Robertson was a bundle of energy as always, but got overly aggressive at times, and whiffed on a few tackles. He was caught up field on the first goal, and just couldn’t quite make it back in time to put a tackle in on Mason Greenwood. He was still Liverpool’s best defender on both sides of the ball by a good margin.
People Thinking Liverpool Would Beat Manchester United in the FA Cup
10 - Manchester United have eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup proper for the 10th time; in the competition's history, only Liverpool themselves (12 v Everton) have knocked a particular side out more times (including finals). Bragging. pic.twitter.com/Uh1ByptM1J— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 24, 2021
For the second time in a week, Liverpool played Manchester United. For the second time in a week, Liverpool struggled to handle the counter attack they knew was coming. Georgino Wijnaldum seemed to be playing a more advanced role in the midfield, leaving Thiago and James Milner in deeper roles. Between the center backs and their lack of speed, coupled with Thiago and Milner not being the most fleet of foot, there were too many games that Manchester United were able to exploit when Liverpool turned the ball over higher up the pitch. As the midfielders stepped up to try and challenge, there was plenty of room for United’s speedy forwards to run at and behind the defense. Liverpool really missed the energy and covering ability of Jordan Henderson, especially on the right side of midfield.
What Happens Next
With Liverpool now out of the FA Cup, they only have two competitions left — the Premier League and the Champions League. Liverpool are back in action in the Premier League on Thursday, away to Spurs. It’s another huge match against the London side, this time with the teams in 4th and 5th in the table.