Some days you do all of the work, and things just don’t pan out. Liverpool were all over Manchester United from the off, but the Reds were unable to find the final pass or the right shot to break through. As the match wore on, it was obvious that the Reds were getting frustrated by the packed bodies in the box as United looked to steal a point rather than find a goal. Liverpool have managed to scrape together just enough in the past few Premier League matches despite not being at their best, but against Manchester United there was no moment of magic to save the Reds.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
The Japanese international has had his biggest opportunity to date, and put on his best performance of his Liverpool career. Endo was quick to vacuum up seemingly every ball that came through the middle, finishing with 6 ball recoveries, 4 tackles, and an interception. He also was much quicker in possession and did a nice job of knitting play together, even while under pressure. He was an efficient 89% with his passing, and slipped some nice balls in to break the lines of Manchester United.
The left back has continued to quietly excel in a regular role, especially when pushing high up the pitch. Tsimikas had 3 key passes, including a couple of very nice corner kicks. He also did well to nick the ball back quickly on the left side and had 6 ball recoveries, 3 tackles, and an interception.
Two Way Center Backs
Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté didn’t have a ton of defending to do as Manchester United rarely came out of their shell, but the two Liverpool center backs came up with big stops when needed. They were both aggressive stepping up to keep control of the ball, and showed great speed when needed to ensure they did not get beat over the top. Both center backs had some of the best opportunities in front of goal, forcing Andre Onana into good saves.
Liverpool finished the match with 34 shots on the day, but only managed to put 8 on target and scored 0 goals from an xG of 2.35. As Manchester United packed the box, the attacking Liverpool players struggled with decision making, typically either forcing poor shots from distance that were easily blocked or getting caught in two minds and just not doing anything with the ball.
The instinctual Darwin Núñez was uncharacteristically guilty of the latter, seeming to freeze several times when trying to decide what to do. The Uruguayan was rarely given the space to get in full flow and struggled with the timing of his runs as Liverpool cautiously probed the congested 18 yard box.
The Hungarian midfielder was sensational over the first couple of months, but has come back to earth lately. Against Manchester United, Szoboszlai really struggled to keep hold of the ball and be accurate with his passes.
Michael Oliver was unsurprisingly inconsistent with his decision making. This is nothing new in the Premier League, and sadly part of what we expect these days. What is most frustrating, however, is the continual reluctance to protect players, arguably the most important part of a referees job, but then have quick trigger for dissent after allowing the match to fall apart.
As the match wound down, there were more and more frequent hard and late fouls, with a couple of borderline red cards, especially a foul by Luke Shaw. Instead, the only red card came after two quick yellow cards for dissent to Manchester United’s Diego Dalot in the span of 10 seconds. You know it’s bad when we at TLO towers are frustrated with a red shown to a Manchester United player.
From the Manager
“It got worse during the game. It didn’t just go. We hoped it would go by, but it didn’t. I hope it’s not serious, but we have three games in the next 10 days and we have to wait. It was his hamstring.”
-Jürgen Klopp on the injury to Ryan Gravenberch
What Happens Next
It’s another quick turnaround for the Reds as they have a quarterfinal matchup with West Ham in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. With Arsenal looming next Saturday, it will be interesting to see how much rotation Jürgen Klopp will go with as the Reds balance the title race and the hunt for domestic cup silverware.