The past few Liverpool games against Manchester United had ended in embarrassing fashion for United, who entered into Sunday’s derby match in the midst of a disappointing season and with plenty of doom and gloom being spread by their ex-player pundits.
Many of those same ex-United pundits were expecting another hammering. Another embarrassing result. Another lopsided scoreline in Liverpool’s favour. Which, perhaps inevitably, set us up for the slightly disappointing nil-nil draw we actually got in the end.
“Besides the result, I have a lot of positives about this game,” was Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp’s reaction. “You could say the decisive part, the scoring part, obviously was not there today. Maybe one or two were a bit unlucky and in other moments not calm enough.
“But the start in the game was the best we had this season, the counter-pressing was the best we had this season, the intensity was outstanding and the amount of chances outstanding. But when you have this amount, you should have a few more on target.”
As much as the result may not have been what Liverpool fans wanted—and what the ex-United pundits expected—there’s a lot of truth to Klopp’s words. On the day, Liverpool were the far better side. They were, there’s a solid case to be made, thoroughly dominant.
The finishing, though, let them down. Liverpool had 34 shots with eight on target to United’s six and one. They had 69% possession. Twice as many passes attempted—and completed at a much higher rate. Twelve corners to none. And 2.68 xG to 0.70 xG.
By any standard, they were the better side. On almost any other day, they would have won comfortably. The underlying numbers were nearly as lopsided as last season’s 7-0 hammering. They needed to be better—especially in front of goal—but they weren’t bad.
“If you take the right things out this was super important,” Klopp added. “The counter-press was the best we’ve played, but when you are that intense to then make the right decisions in decisive moments is another step. We will see what we can do in that department.”