Yesterday was yet another day of social media trying to crucify Manchester United and Paul Pogba as much as possible. Most of yesterday’s football focus was more on the irrelevant things rather than giving praise where it is due. Manchester United carried on their amazing run of form, and Liverpool earned a well fought point with several players missing.
The game as a whole lacked quite a lot of quality, but was very entertaining and very well refereed. Michael Oliver had a superb game, and in my opinion only made one poor decision which was booking Dejan Lovren, the assistant’s also made a couple of mistakes, with Valencia highlighted offside in the lead-up to Manchester United’s first goal, and a booking that Paul Pogba should’ve received for wrestling Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson to the ground.
The first half started off very slow, there were very few chances. Paul Pogba should have give Manchester United the lead, but he dragged his weak foot shot just across the post. Liverpool capitalised on Paul Pogba’s inability to mark the constant aerial threat of Dejan Lovren as he gave away a penalty that James Milner slotted home. With the score at 1-0, Mkhitaryan had a brilliant chance one-on-one with Simon Mignolet but the Belgian keeper pulled off a beautiful save. In a nutshell, the first half was possession based and neither side looked threatening. Anthony Martial was a constant threat down the left side, but struggled to create anything that could have been turned into a goal.
The second half was really a tactical masterclass from Jose Mourinho that completely swung the game into Manchester United’s favour. The first substitute took place at the half, with Wayne Rooney replacing Michael Carrick, this gave Manchester United much more options going forward and Rooney played a huge part in creating the goal. Liverpool sat back in hope that Manchester United would not score, they were very poor going forward at this stage of the game and created nothing. Manchester United carried on the pressure without creating any real key chance, Juan Mata replaced Anthony Martial who had an outstanding performance. Liverpool were shocking at the start of the second half until Phillipe Coutinho entered the field, from this point on he got Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Gigi Wijnaldum ticking. Roberto Firmino should have sealed the game but David De Gea came up with a trademark save. Jose Mourinho figured that the game needed a ‘Plan B’ as Liverpool’s defensive unit was not going to be broken down, on come Marouane Fellaini. Antonio Valencia had much more space down the right side as Phillipe Coutinho often abandoned his defensive duties, Divock Origi who was replaced had done a brilliant job of keeping him at bay. Manchester United finally scored as Wayne Rooney played a brilliant ball to Marouane Fellaini who struck the post, the ball then rebounded to Antonio Valencia who found Zlatan Ibrahimovic to nod home off the bar. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been non-existent all game until that goal, he was marked out brilliantly by my man of the match Dejan Lovren. The last minutes of the game were end to end, but neither keeper was troubled and the game finished 1-1.
Manchester United ratings:
David De Gea – 8. Distributed the ball excellently, made a few decent saves, could do nothing about the goal.
Antonio Valencia – 7. Did well to create the goal, wasn’t his best attacking display of the season. Kept Divock Origi and Phillipe Coutinho relatively quiet.
Phil Jones – 7. Very good performance, but made a crucial mistake in the lead up to Liverpool’s goal.
Marcos Rojo – 7. Did what he had to do, and did it superbly.
Matteo Darmian – 7. Was great defensively but lacked any real threat going forward.
Michael Carrick – 5. Had a very poor first half, and was correctly substituted at half time.
Paul Pogba – 5. Had a poor game and gave away the goal. Didn’t look his usual self in the midfield against a packed Liverpool side.
Ander Herrera – 7. Carried the Manchester United midfield once again, created a couple of chances and made a few crucial interceptions.
Anthony Martial – 8. Was by far Manchester United’s best player going forward, caused the Liverpool defence real problems and worked back defensively.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7. Another solid outing for the Armenian. Set up Paul Pogba, and should have scored after making a brilliant run.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 6. Nothing but the goal. Offered very little, but did what he does best to save the day.
Wayne Rooney – 7. Tried his hardest throughout the second half and his hard work paid dividends when Manchester United equalised.
Juan Mata – 7. Was good when he entered the field and gave Manchester United another option with his silkiness.
Marouane Fellaini – 8. An outstanding substitution. Did not lose an aerial duel and battled until the end, clearly in Mourinho’s plans and deservedly so.
Simon Mignolet – 8. Showed why he is a great shot stopper, but still looks quite dodgy with his distribution and crosses.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6. Struggled a lot against one of the best dribblers in the league, he wasn’t any threat going forward but showed great maturity by having a much stronger half defensively in the second. The 18 year old definitely looks special.
Dejan Lovren – 9. Man of the match. Won everything and basically won Liverpool’s penalty.
Ragnor Klavan – 6. Was very dodgy and out of position, also lost quite a lot of aerial duels especially when Marouane Fellaini came on.
James Milner – 8. Nerves of steel. Good display by the left back and showed why he is a part of the Liverpool side.
Jordan Henderson – 6. Wasn’t really involved in the game too much other than the first 20 minutes.
Emre Can – 6. Same as Jordan Henderson, he did what he had to do defensively but didn’t offer or create anything.
Gigi Wijnaldum – 8. Excellent display from Wijnaldum, he covered every blade on the field and unsettled Paul Pogba throughout.
Adam Lallana – 7. Tried his best to get Liverpool playing good football, pressed well and caused a few mistakes.
Roberto Firmino – 7. Played well without doing anything special, pressed excellently and stuck to his job. Could have scored to seal the game though.
Divock Origi – 7. Had a great game, was a nuisance and marked Antonio Valencia out of the game until he was brought off.
Phillipe Coutinho – 7. Looked dangerous as always and created a couple of chances, however his abandoning of defensive duties gave Manchester United something to capitalise on.