United steal a point at Anfield
On a night that was built-up to be one of the biggest games in years, the game at Anfield last night was quite the anti-climax.
It was clear that United came and played to get a point, which they were entitled to do, and which they achieved. Liverpool heavily dominated the possession stats but couldn’t break through Jose Mourinho’s resistant back-line and create a clear enough opportunity.
United’s resistance ended up translating into luck and fantastic last-ditch defending, as the second half finally produced some opportunities that we were lacking the first.
The first half did belong to United, although they failed to create any real chances to threaten Loris Karius. They controlled the midfield for the majority of the half and stopped Liverpool from getting going, it was a good performance from Mourinho’s men.
The first clear chance of the game fell to United 9 minutes into the second half, when a fantastic cross from Paul Pogba found Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the far post, but the Swede couldn’t direct his header back across goal with enough accuracy.
From here, Liverpool made a key switch that changed the game. Adam Lallana replaced Daniel Sturridge and suddenly Liverpool began to look like the side they have been for the majority of this season so far. The ‘pressing style’ appeared much more intense and they started to push United further back, while creating chances for themselves.
United relied on David De Gea making some world-class saves to keep them in the game, the first stopping an effort inside the box from Emre Can. The German midfielder, surrounded by defenders, fired low and his effort was saved with a strong right hand with De Gea only seeing the shot late.
However, the more impressive one came on the 70 minute mark, when Liverpool star man Phillippe Coutinho was given the space to shoot by United from 30 yards. An incredible save right in the top corner from De Gea denied Liverpool the opening goal that would’ve been the winner.
United denied Roberto Firmino again incredibly late, as a flick from Coutinho appeared to put his Brazilian colleague through on goal with 6 minutes to go. However, a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Antonio Valencia meant that Liverpool had to settle for a draw in the end.
United captain Wayne Rooney did make an appearance, but failed to make an impact as United played incredibly defensively in the last 25 minutes of the game.
Overall, Jose Mourinho will be the happier of the two managers, as they came to Anfield and got exactly what they came for. A draw isn’t the worst result in the world for Liverpool, as they sit just two points behind leaders Manchester City and Arsenal, but you have to see it as a missed opportunity for the home side last night.
By Ben Kelly – @benkelly_10