Talking Points from Old Trafford
Manchester United fell to a rare home defeat by Liverpool in the Premier League on Thursday night.
The evening started brilliantly for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side but ultimately it ended in dismay for the manager and his players.
Bruno Fernandes gave us the lead in the 10th minute when his shot deflected off Nathaniel Phillips and into the net. The visitors equalised through a clever back-heeled flick from Diogo Jota ten minutes before the break and then took the the lead in first-half injury time through a Roberto Firmino header at the back post.
The Brazilian doubled the visitors’ advantage shortly after the interval but Marcus Rashford's well-placed finish halved the deficit with 20 minutes to play. Unfortunately, Mohamed Salah put the game to bed in the 90th minute with a goal on the counter-attack.
After a tense battle with Liverpool, here are the major talking points…
For the second home match in a row, United ended the night without a point. The home defeat against our arch-rivals was a rare one - in the previous 15 home matches against the Merseysiders, we had only lost once, in March 2014.
With Thursday night’s game being United’s fifth match in three days, it was inevitable that Ole was going to make alterations to his set-up against the Merseysiders. Compared to the team against Leicester City on Tuesday evening, the Norwegian made ten changes, with Eric Bailly being the only player he retained. Edinson Cavani made his first start for United since signing a contract extension which keeps him at the club until the end of next season.
In Harry Maguire’s absence and on his 50th Premier League appearance, Fernandes captained the Reds for the first time in the league on Thursday evening. The Portuguese magnifico has shown his leadership qualities ever since he came to the club and was rewarded with the armband.
Our no. 18’s strike to send United ahead also cemented him into the history books. No Premier League midfielder has ever scored as many goals (28) as Bruno in a single season. Chelsea legend Frank Lampard previously held the record on 27 goals, with former Manchester City star Yaya Toure in third place on 24.
Bruno Fernandes has scored 28 goals in all comps this season, the best ever single-season return by a Premier League midfielder:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 13, 2021
🔘 Bruno Fernandes - 28 (20/21)
🔘 Frank Lampard - 27 (09/10)
🔘 Yaya Toure - 24 (13/14)
It’s his first full campaign. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/tlSv9OdsgG
It’s also worth mentioning that Bruno’s 44 league goal contributions, assists included, is only bettered by Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo in Europe’s top five leagues.
44 - Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 44 goals in 50 Premier League appearances for Man Utd (26 goals, 18 assists); only Eric Cantona (46) and Robin van Persie (45) had a hand in more in their first 50 appearances in the competition for the club. Talisman. #MUNLIV pic.twitter.com/5P50yYCecW— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 13, 2021
RASHFORD REACHES 50
Marcus gave us hope for another stellar comeback when he utilised a brilliant through-ball from Cavani to make it 2-3 with just over 20 minutes to play. It was the forward's 50th goal at Old Trafford and his fifth in five appearances against our arch-rivals. Our no. 10 now has found the back of the net on 21 occasions in this campaign.
ANOTHER ASSIST FOR AARON
For the second game running, Aaron Wan-Bissaka set up a United goal with a precise pass. For our opening goal against Liverpool, our talented right-back joined the attack with a clever underlapping run before passing the ball to Fernandes, who found the back of the net with a clever shot with the outside of his right foot. The former Crystal Palace defender now has provided as many assists in two games as he did in his previous 37 league outings. A man in form!
Not our night gallery
United are edged out in a fierce contest at Old Trafford.
Bruno and Marcus’s goals were our 69th and 70th league strikes of the season, which is our best tally since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last campaign, 2012/13, when we won the Premier League. The Reds also have two more league games to score in, at home to relegated Fulham and away at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
🔴 Man Utd have scored 69 PL goals this season, their most in a single campaign since they scored 86 in 2012-13 (Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season as manager) #MUNLIV— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 13, 2021
LAST WITHOUT FANS
Thursday evening’s game was the last match of our Premier League season without fans in the stadium. Against Fulham next Tuesday, up to 10,000 supporters will be able to watch United in person at Old Trafford. We cannot wait to have you back inside the Theatre of Dreams.
Scott Parker’s Fulham are our next opponents and although their relegation to the Championship has already been confirmed, the Cottagers will surely do their best to go out in style on the biggest stage. The match on Tuesday 18 May kicks off at 18:00 BST.