United v Liverpool: Talking points
Manchester United's 1-1 draw with arch rivals Liverpool on Sunday meant neither side could claim the bragging rights but there was still plenty to talk about when the dust settled.
FIRST SIDE TO TAKE POINTS OFF LIVERPOOL
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men may have been disappointed to come away with just a draw from the game, after leading for most of the afternoon. But United are still the first side to take domestic points off the Merseysiders this season. Prior to Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s men had won all their top-flight matches so far in 2019/20, making our superb performance even more impressive. We also prevented our rivals equalling the Premier League record for the most consecutive wins (Manchester City, 18).
Top pics: United 1 Liverpool 1 gallery
Study the standout images from a tense and dramatic match at Old Trafford.
The boss opted to line up with a different system on Sunday and started with a 3-5-2 shape, which worked a treat. The three centre-backs manage to nullify the opposition’s dangerous trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young pushed up on the flanks to limit Liverpool’s attack-minded full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson. Up front, the blistering pace of Marcus Rashford and Daniel James caused havoc for the Liverpool defence all afternoon, and the duo combined excellently for our first-half goal.
Many players can be intimated by the size of United v Liverpool, but, playing in the fixture for the first time, James was certainly not overawed. The Welshman operated in a more central position and helped launch a significant amount of United’s attacks. His directness caught the opposition out numerous times and the visitors were often forced to foul the youngster in order to stop him. In fact, Fabinho was even booked for hauling James down in the second half. But, the former Swansea man’s best moment of the game came in the 36th minute when his pin-point cross set up Rashford to stroke the ball past Alisson.
DE GEA SURPRISES EVERYONE
One of the biggest shocks at Old Trafford actually came ahead of the game, when David De Gea was named in the starting XI. The Spaniard was ruled out by Ole earlier in the week after our no.1 suffered a leg injury during the recent international break. But, David - who was "desperate to play", according to his manager - was passed fit for the game. As usual, he put in a superb performance and was on hand to deny Firmino’s dangerous shot in the first half.
TUANZEBE MISSES OUT
While our keeper was passed fit for Sunday’s game, one man who was not was Axel Tuanzebe. The defender was named in the original starting line-up for the clash, but had to be withdrawn after picking up a hip problem in the warm-up. Marcos Rojo replaced him and helped Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof to repel the usually free-scoring Liverpool until Lallana's late leveller.
VAR TAKES CENTRE STAGE AGAIN
It’s becoming commonplace in the Premier League, and once again VAR played a huge role in Sunday’s game. The technology was first called into action after United’s goal, which was checked by the extra officials at Stockley Park. They deemed there was no foul by Victor Lindelof on Divock Origi in the build-up to Rashford’s opener and the strike stood, much to the ire of the Liverpool staff and fans.
Klopp and his coaches were also left downhearted when Sadio Mane’s goal was correctly ruled out at the end of the first half. The Senegalese forward controlled the ball with his arm moments before knocking it into the back of net and, to the relief of most inside Old Trafford, it was chalked off. VAR was also needed later in the game to double check Liverpool’s equaliser and again it correctly ruled that Adam Lallana was not offside, while the visitors also had a penalty claim denied in the second half by the video technology.
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