Manchester United held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield in the Premier League. David de Gea made a couple of world-class saves as Jose Mourinho’s men earned a draw against a dominant Liverpool side in a testing fixture.
The first half witnessed end-to-end action, but it was clear from the very beginning that Mourinho had brought his side into the match with a defensive mind-set, playing with “five defenders”. De Gea saved Wijnaldum’s shot from 25 yards Matic unleashed a fierce half-volley from 30 yards that whiskered wide of goal. The hosts should’ve taken the lead in the 35th minute, as Matip’s shot from Firmino’s cross was superbly denied by the outstretched De Gea who displayed brilliant reactions to thwart what looked like a certain goal. Jones partially cleared the ball after his keeper’s save but the ball was intercepted by Salah whose rebound was agonisingly wide of the post. United also had a rare great chance, as Martial’s through ball found Lukaku who failed to beat his compatriot Mignolet who rushed forward to block the striker’s range as the sides went level into the break.
Liverpool should’ve broken the deadlock after the break but Emre Can volleyed Joe Gomez’s cross over from 10 yards with only De Gea to beat. United also looked dangerous on the counter but didn’t have any major chances after the break, as the visitors held on for a draw to frustrate Klopp’s men.
With this win, United drop down to second in the league, two points behind neighbours Manchester City who thrashed Stoke City 7-2, while Liverpool are now eighth in the league with 13 points.
Here are the major Talking Points from the match-
Mourinho Frustrates both sets of fans
This was a typical defensive performance by Mourinho where he refused to let the dominant side run away with all three points. United’s negative tactics were frustrating for everybody who was hoping for a nail-biting game, as United shut down shop against a hopeful home side. However, it was United’s style of play that gave the home side hope in the first place. United should’ve arrived with a winning mentality, and they could’ve easily defeated an under-pressure Klopp side who’ve not won a league game in the last four outings now.
This not only proves that City are the title-favourites this season, but also shows that Mourinho needs to change his attitude in such games and stop waiting for other teams to make a mistake and instead grab the game by its neck.
United extend unbeaten run
United are now one of the only two teams in the league who’re yet to lose a game. Not just that, United are now unbeaten against Liverpool in their last six games, winning four and drawing two, with their last loss against their bitter rivals coming way back in 2014. Not just that, United have now managed 18 clean sheets in 2017, which is the highest in England’s top flight.
Dave Saves, Yet Again
If there are still people who don’t think that De Gea is the best in the world, they definitely need to see a doctor. The Spaniard has been so consistent that he’s shown his credentials time and again even in a season when his team’s been so deadly in front of goal. His save from Matip in the first half was simply stunning, and the result could’ve been very different had he been unable to make that stop with his foot. United owe this point to their best-in-the-world keeper, who’s saved his side yet again. And I’ve now lost track of how many times I’ve written the same thing again and again.
Salah shows his lack of composure
Agreed- Salah was Liverpool’s best player in the first half. His pace was deadly, and he successfully completed the highest number of dribbles (7) in the match. But what has been his missing quality is composure. He can beat defenders but it won’t matter if he doesn’t help his side put the ball into the net. Even today, too many times he shot when he should’ve passed and passed when he should’ve shot. He has been superb against weak teams, but he needs to find his composure and consistency in the big games as well.
Benfica up Next
United have another way game next, as they travel to Portugal to face Benfica in the UEFA Champions League. They’ve won the first two group games in emphatic fashion, and they’ll be the favourites yet again as they look to extend their unbeaten record this season.