Manchester Hold Firm To Keep Top Of The Table
Did Manchester United Miss the opportunity for a 6 point lead over the rival or got just a precious point to maintain their title leadership on top of the table?
There are those saying United cannot win the Premier League playing as they did at Anfield for much of the game. But some remain curious as they can summon bold moments with somewhat counter attacks that bring in good results. Manchester United came to Anfield with a two result advantage, either a win or a draw will keep them on top of the table. A would though would have made quite a statement.
United have managed a 16 game unbeaten away from home which is a much more improved performance as compared to the last meeting , a year ago , when they got a 2-0 defeat.
It doesn’t look a big win but its a crucial win for the title challenge and the effect will be seen at the end of the campaign. And more so that memory will live on for what Liverpool would have done to have kept Manchester United at Bay.
Manchester United’s lead has been trimmed this weekend to only two points. United have now been able to negotiate arguably their most difficult fixture. Manchester City might dispute that, given United still have to go to the Etihad, and maybe they – along with Leicester City – were the biggest winners after this tough, uncompromising and ultimately unsatisfying draw.
For Liverpool, it is undeniably worrying as it is now four league games without a win. That is three draws and a defeat – with just one goal scored in that run.
Roberto Firmino, in particular, is out of sorts and lacking conviction. Jurgen Klopp may be fretting about his lack of defenders, but he must urgently address his misfiring forwards . Forwards missing out on perfectly placed opportunities on goal.
As the game progressed , it looked unlikely that United would inflict serious damage to the rival or get closer to scoring . This was due to the weight of possession liverpool and elegant orchestration from Thiago Alcantara who made his Anfiled debut. Goal keeper Alisson did the heavy lifting ,saving crucial saves that would have cost liverpool.
There was an outstanding reaction save from Alisson as he turned away Bruno Fernandes’ close-range . He also made a save from a first-time shot from Luke Shaw’s cut-back. Then he blocked Paul Pogba’s fierce drive from just seven yards which left the midfielder in agonised disbelief. The Brazilian was called upon again as he bravely threw himself to smother from Marcus Rashford.
No-one saw any of that coming during a first-half period in which United needed to weather the storm. They managed to do that, just about.
Liverpool did not have clear chances, but there were chances, and chances they would have taken last season. The pressure was relentless until United finally threatened the Liverpool goal. It came from Fernandes’ free-kick, after a foul on the outstanding Shaw, which skimmed narrowly wide with Alisson scrambling to cover.
With Joel Matip unfit, Jordan Henderson was again pressed into being an emergency centre-half. However, that didn’t impede Liverpool and, up until Fernandes’ narrow miss, the hosts had dominated with 70 percent possession. Thiago was at the centre of it all.
And the Liverpool saga Continued
Firmino messed up when he had Andrew Robertson unmarked to his left but elected to shoot after being picked out by Sadio Mane. Georginio Wijnaldum, in no uncertain terms, told the Brazilian what he thought of that selfish decision.
Maybe Liverpool were anxious. Robertson slashed the ball over, having drilled a shot low into the side-netting. Then the left-back dribbled across goal to tee up Xherdan Shaqiri, whose shot was deflected narrowly wide. An effort by Firmino was blocked by Harry Maguire, while then it was Mohamed Salah’s chance to try his luck, but he volleyed wildly over.
Still they came forward. Wijnaldum had another shot charged down and Shaqiri sent the ball over from 25 yards. After that, Firmino struck the ball weakly at David De Gea after it broke to him from Salah’s run.
United sprang a surprise attack, with Rashford moved up to being the central striker, Anthony Martial on the left and Pogba on the right behind him.
Liverpool’s frustration summed up on 45 minutes of the first-half when referee Paul Tierney blew for half-time . Later on Shaqiri picked out Mane making a clear on goal. One minute of added time and Klopp clapped sarcastically. Still Manchester Hold Firm To Keep Top Of The Table – Football News
The Liverpool manager clearly demanded that his team up the pace even more in the second-half. They attempted to do that but United gradually steadied and grew in belief.
Maguire put on an alarm when he failed to cut out Robertson’s cross, only for Firmino’s attempt at goal to rebound back off the defender . That was before the forward’s quick feet picked out Salah, and his shot also deflected off the United captain and drifted wide.
Later on, Thiago would draw a smart save from De Gea with a rising shot from 22 yards.
As the game became stretched and Liverpool’s annoyance grew, it started to play into United’s hands. They continued to defend deep, with Scott McTominay, in effect, a third centre-half. Shaw kept giving them an attacking impetus and lively substitute Edinson Cavani made a difference.
Those United chances came and went and Fernandes was furious when he was substituted, shouting at Solskjaer. It showed much about his desire to win. United did not achieve that but they made their point clear to the rivals .
© Daily Telegraph, London