53,001 fans saw a capitulation of the highest order.
Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah each scored two, making them the first Premier League trio in the 21st century to do such.
Roberto Firmino, off the bench added the seventh.
This result was Liverpool’s biggest ever win over United, surpassing a 7-1 victory back in 1895.
Managed by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp:
- Goalkeeper – Alisson Becker
- Right Back – Trent Alexander-Arnold
- Centre Back – Raphael Varane
- Centre Back – Virgil van Dijk
- Left Back – Luke Shaw
- Defensive Midfielder – Casemiro
- Centre Midfielder – Fred
- Attacking Midfielder – Bruno Fernandes
- Left Wing – Marcus Rashford
- Centre Forward – Darwin Nunez
- Right Wing – Mohamed Salah
GK – Despite David De Gea’s world class shot stopping capabilities, Alisson’s ability to sweep the ball and play out from the back sets him apart from the Spanish goalkeeper.
RB – Although, both Aaron Wan Bissaka and Diogo Dalot have improved significantly since Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag’s arrival, Alexander-Arnold’s unique offensive abilities make him a necessity in a combined eleven. The English international has been susceptible for criticism of his defensive work, but his undeniable world class ability on the ball helps create countless chances, and thus he has to be in this team.
CB’s – Raphael Varane was a guaranteed starter. In previous years, Van Dijk would have arguably been the first name on the team sheet. However, recently, the Dutch defender hasn’t performed at the levels he once showed. Thus, Lisandro Martinez was a close possibility to partner the French international. However, despite not reaching his former heights, Van Dijk is still a phenomenal defender, and so will partner Varane well.
LB – The Luke Shaw vs Andy Robertson debate has been ongoing for multiple seasons. The Scotsman was perceived by the majority as the better player for many years, but Shaw’s form since Ten Hag’s arrival may have changed this. Robertson is still a quality fullback, but it’s Shaw’s all round ability, mixed with a phenomenal ability to drive at the opposition which tips the balance in his favour.
DM – Despite Fabinho’s prowess and evident quality, five-time Champions League winner Casemiro is a level above. The former Real Madrid midfielder reads the game so well helping him position himself exactly where he needs to be on most occasions. Furthermore, since joining United, Casemiro has become a serious goal threat particularly from set pieces. Thus, this further illustrates the quality the Brazilian has.
CM – With the injuries to Thiago Alcantara and Christian Eriksen, Fred rises to take this spot. Although the Brazilian can be weak on the ball, he makes up for it with his tenacity and fitness which makes him a hassle to play against. In recent months, with the signing of Casemiro, the former Shakhtar midfielder has been given the license to roam forward more. As a result, Fred, like Casemiro has become more of a goal threat. This was particularly seen against Barcelona when Fred scored a vital goal to equalise the game.
AM – The quality of Bruno Fernandes is undeniable. Although the Portuguese midfielder can be erratic, his quality on the ball and ability to play the right final pass makes him a phenomenal asset.
LW – With the sale of Sadio Mane and the resurgence of Marcus Rashford under Ten Hag, the left wing spot wasn’t very debatable. New signing Cody Gakpo could excel in the future, but for now, Rashford takes prominence over the Dutch attacker.
CF – Wout Weghorst provides United with the necessary energy and defensive work which the previously struggled with. However, Liverpool’s big summer signing Darwin Nunez is a greater threat due to his explosive pace and quality movement.
RW – Salah was the only option.
The key moments in Liverpool’s drubbing of Manchester United
The opening stages of the game were even.
Neither side excelled over the other.
Antony had an early chance which Alisson saved.
Midway through the first half, Martinez made a crucial block to deny Nunez a big goal scoring opportunity.
In the 26th minute, Fernandes came bitterly close to giving the visitors a crucial lead. Fred found Dalot who whipped in a deep cross. The Portuguese midfielder was lurking at the back post before heading it across goal. However, his effort whiskered past Alisson’s far post.
A minute later, Rashford escaped in behind the Liverpool high line. Shaw’s pass fell perfectly for United’s number 10 to strike first time. His effort was tame, and easily caught by the Brazilian goalkeeper.
In the 39th minute, Antony came close to opening the scoring. Casemiro found Antony who ran around the onrushing Alisson, but when attempting to compose himself, the Liverpool defence caught up and blocked any clear effort on goal.
Three minutes later, after scoring the week prior from a similar situation, Casemiro thought he’d headed United in-front from a freekick. However, the flag immediately went up as the Brazilian was comfortably offside.
With wins at Anfield a rarity, United would potentially be ruing missing so many opportunities.
Therefore, in the 43rd minute, this became a reality. Robertson drove the ball into the centre of midfield, dragging opposing fullback Dalot with him. This left Fred to cover the gap. Ultimately, the Scottish international was able to slip Gakpo in behind Fred. At pace, when cutting in off the left, the Dutch attacker managed to gain a yard against Varane, and slot his effort into the bottom right corner.
This gave Liverpool a crucial lead before half time.
As a result, Liverpool went in 1-0 up at half time.
United would be hoping to bounce back immediately after conceding so late into the first half.
However, disaster struck for Ten Hag’s men.
A sloppy pass from Shaw gave Harvey Elliot the ball. After several deflections and failures to clear the ball, Salah attempted to cross in off the right. His effort was deflected back to Elliot, who’s cross was headed past De Gea by Nunez.
This gave Liverpool breathing space.
Just three minutes later, Liverpool scored again.
Off the right flank, Salah danced past Martinez, before crafting a perfectly weighted pass for Gakpo, who dinked his shot over De Gea to bag his brace.
Alisson almost gifted United a vital lifeline in the game after he was caught in possession by Fernandes. However, United weren’t able to capitalise.
Despite already conceding three, United’s defence was gaping. All organisation and previous structure had gone.
Every time Liverpool went forward, they looked like scoring.
To try and change the game, Ten Hag brought on Alejandro Garnacho, and Scott McTominay for Weghorst and Fred.
In the 66th minute, Liverpool got their fourth. Liverpool broke again with Nunez leading the chase. The Uruguayan tried to find Salah, but his attempt deflected off McTominay, back to Nunez, before his pass deflected off the Scottish midfielder again. Subsequently, the ball fell for Salah, whose thunderous effort smashed past De Gea.
Any possibility of getting back into the game was lost for United.
In the 73rd minute, Rashford almost got a constellation goal when he rounded Alisson, but his effort hit the woodwork.
Two minutes later, Nunez made it five. Henderson picked the ball up off the left flank, whipping in a cross to Nunez, whose header flew into the top right corner.
Unfortunately for United, there was still 15 minutes left.
Subsequently, in the 83rd minute, Salah added his second. After the ball bobbled towards Shaw in his own box, the English defender attempted to clear. This clearance deflected right back off Firmino, and Salah was there to fire into an empty net.
Finally, in the 88th minute, Firmino got the seventh. Salah found himself in space on Liverpool’s right. The Egyptian’s deft pass was met by Firmino who had time to compose and strike at goal. The shot went pass De Gea to further increase the humiliation.
Ultimately the game ended 7-0 to Liverpool.
Where it went wrong for United
After a promising first 40 minutes, no one could have foreseen that second half.
Despite Gakpo’s opener, United could have gone into half time optimistic about their chances. The red devils created numerous chances which on another day would have seen them go ahead at Anfield.
However, it was the utter collapse in the second half which is the worrying thing.
When United lost 5-0 to Liverpool at Old Trafford last season, the two teams were at completely different stages and forms. United was on awful form whereas Liverpool was aiming to win the quadruple.
However, this season, in recent weeks, United had won the Carabao Cup, and knocked Barcelona out of the Europa League. Thus, such a dreadful defeat should never have been possible.
You have to credit Liverpool for their performance as their offensive quality created such a demolition.
However, this defeat is majorly down to the United players themselves.
The second goal was a collection of defensive errors, but at this point, you can still get back into the game.
Despite this, rather than attempting to play offensive, but with defensive structure, the United players abandoned any previous plan, and were all over the place.
As a result, this gave Liverpool chance after chance to pick off a vulnerable United defence.
Ten Hag has been monumental for United this season. However, against Liverpool he got it wrong. Although the players failed him, the Dutch coach should have ensured United closed themselves off and imposed damage limitation. Ten Hag didn’t do this. Subsequently, Liverpool continued to score throughout the second half.
Despite this, what’s most concerning is the attitude of the players. The players have received such high plaudits recently, but the mentality shown was defeatist. In times of key leadership, it was missing.
It looked like a team of individuals on that pitch.
Ultimately, Ten Hag now has a big job to work out how such a collapse could occur.
The former Ajax manager will be hoping to prevent that from ever happening again, else his visions of future success could be hindered by a similar performance reoccurring.
What Ten Hag had to say after the game
“First half I think we play very decent.”
“The second half is unprofessional, can’t happen.”
In relation to whether the leaders in his team let him down, Ten Hag said: “It was not about one or two players, it was the whole team, I saw 11 individuals, losing their heads, not stick to the plan.”
“We let the fans down.”
When asked about whether fatigue played a factor in the defeat, Ten Hag said: “No.”
The bounce back
After such a bruising and momentum killing defeat, United will be hoping to secure victory against Real Betis at Old Trafford on Thursday, as a way to forget the events of the weekend prior.
On the contrary, Liverpool will be desperate to take Sunday’s momentum into their next games in order to boost their chances of getting into the top four.
Klopp’s men next face Bournemouth at the Vitality stadium on Saturday.