Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United: Winners and losers as points shared in tight tactical battle

In a game of few chances, Liverpool failed to capitalise on a strong first half performance and the vast majority of possession, as the forwards failed to fire once again. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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In what many regarded as the biggest game of the season for the Reds, they were unable to break down a stubborn United side who retained their three-point lead over Jürgen Klopp’s side on Sunday evening.

With confidence flowing through the Manchester United, it was a critical fixture for both sides which could have seen Liverpool retake the lead at the top of the table with a win, whilst putting the brakes on United’s winning run.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as the dominant Reds were unable to find a breakthrough, with Liverpool going scoreless once again. A third successive game without a goal will have Klopp wondering what is happening with his forwards, who have lacked any cutting edge over the last month.


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The day started with the news that Joël Matip wasn’t fit enough to even make the Liverpool bench, despite having trained for the last couple of days to prove his fitness. Jordan Henderson once again was called upon, despite the presence of Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips, to fill the void alongside Fabinho at the heart of the Reds backline.

Liverpool started well, taking the game to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s in the opening half an hour. Several opportunities would fall to Roberto Firmino, who lacked any type of composure, as his strikes failed to trouble David De Gea in the United goal.

United also failed to negotiate there way out of defence on a handful of occasions as the early Liverpool press pushed them into mistakes. Once again, Klopp’s side were unable to take advantage as they proved wasteful, a trend that has all been too obvious in the Reds performances over the last few weeks.

After the interval the Red Devils would prove more adventurous in a pursuit of a goal, countering quickly against the make shift Liverpool back line, but efforts from Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba were excellently foiled by the outstanding Alisson Becker who – after doing nothing all game – proved to be the Reds saviour at the end of the day.

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Liverpool would still push for the winner as Thiago went close with a clean 25-yard strike and Firmino denied by a Maguire block, but this would be as close as they came as United sat back settling for the point.

Overall, there were positives that Liverpool can take out of this with the back four once again performing well despite the make shift nature. However, with the strikers all struggling to score, and the team failing to score in three consecutive games for the first time in 15 years, it will concern Klopp. It is something that will hopefully be fixed when they meet Burnley at Anfield in their next game on Thursday evening.

Klopp made one change from the side who lost to Southampton at St Mary’s. Xherdan Shaqiri made his first Premier League start of the season, after an impressive cameo in the FA Cup against Aston Villa, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropping to the bench.

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

Alisson

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Where would be without him? I have consistently said he is the best goalkeeper in the world in these articles and once again he has proved me right. After being a bystander for the first 75 minutes of the game, he made two world class saves in the space of five minutes to ensure the Reds left Anfield with at least a point.

After breaking clear and finding space in behind Alexander-Arnold, Luke Shaw would get to the by-line and cut back perfectly to Bruno Fernandes, whose low strike would be expertly smothered by Liverpool’s number one. His wide frame will envy many top-class keepers and was on show perfectly here.

The second save – and better stop – was brilliantly instinctive. After bringing the ball down five yards out, Paul Pogba struck the ball flush in the direction of the goal, only for the Brazilian to deal with it like it was a regulation save. 99 times out of 100 this is a goal, but the former AS Roma man is not your normal goalkeeper and is clearly confident that he can deny anyone.

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His all-round performance was perfect. These saves will clearly be the highlights of his display, but in the first 75 minutes – when not being tested – his distribution was once again at it’s fluent best. His long-range passing and manipulation of the ball is jaw dropping, he could easily be mistaken for a centre midfielder with his passing armoury.

I don’t think there is anything more I can say about this goalkeeping wizard who continues to find new level every time we see him called into action. The significant transfer fee we paid for him now looks an absolute bargain. We are so lucky to have him at Liverpool Football Club.

Fabinho

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Outstanding once again. The way he has effortlessly moved into centre back during this injury hiatus for van Dijk and Gomez is astonishing. I think it is easy to say that he has been one of the best centre halves in the league this season. He is a remarkable player and once again showed his value with another stunning display.

His composure at the back when the Reds have possession is something on par with the Dutch international, who’s void he is currently filling. Manchester United tried to press the Brazilian in a move that was programmed to unsettle the 27-year-old. This plan was written off after 30 minutes by Solskjær’s side, who struggled to even get in the same vicinity as him before he offloaded the ball.

Defensively he was a rock who bullied Rashford and Martial throughout the 90 minutes. His reading of the game was sublime and stood out in a moment of class half way through the second half. After United found themselves breaking three on three, Rashford would use his pace to breeze past Henderson and Alexander-Arnold, only for the former AS Monaco man to catch up, force him wide and shrug the England international off the ball.

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His flexibility was also on show in the latter part of the first half as he covered in at right-back on a couple of occasions as Alexander-Arnold adventured up the pitch. These moments saw him calmly dispose of Martial and Shaw on both occasions to ease the threat that might have been building.

His under the radar signing in 2018 after the Champions League final, personally, has been one of the best signings under Klopp’s regime. Since being fully integrated into the German’s playing style, he has become undroppable whether that is in midfield or at the back. He has kept that back line together and is the main reason that Liverpool finds themselves contending despite the injury crisis.

Losers

Roberto Firmino

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The forwards continue to disappoint during this tough period. Salah was completely shutdown all game by Luke Shaw, who arguably had his best game in a United shirt. However, it is Firmino who finds himself in this column today with his poor finishing denying the Reds from all three points.

His misses unfortunately were made worse by the fact he could have played in others for certain goals. For his first chance he skewed his effort from the edge of the area wide, despite Andy Robertson being completely free to the left of him. Then, with the best chance of the game, scuffed his strike into the hands of De Gea whilst only being six yards out, with the overlapping Sadio Mané free on his right. It is frustrating to say the least, even more so knowing that he has the quality to score both of these chances in his sleep.

On a more positive note, the former Hoffenheim man was lively throughout the game and looked like he was trying to make something happen, never resting despite his missed chances. He was getting into the positions that Klopp wanted all whilst creating chances for others. However, bar his finishing against Tottenham and Crystal Palace, he has failed to deliver as a striker when needed this season. Hopefully it is something he can fix, starting with the Clarets on Thursday night.


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