Michael Mongie discusses three talking points from Liverpool’s Premier League stalemate with Manchester United.
After two weeks of dull international football, Liverpool hosted Manchester United at Anfield. The clash was highly anticipated but the game didn’t live up to the hype generated beforehand.
With Jose Mourinho setting his side up in a typically boring defensive setup, there was very little room to manoeuvre as far as creative football was concerned. Other than a spurned opportunity from Zlatan Ibrahmiovic, the best goalscoring opportunities were created by Liverpool.
The Monday Night Football fixture offered Liverpool the opportunity to go top of the league but instead the Reds remain fourth two points behind Manchester City.
While it may have been a relatively boring game for a natural, there is plenty to take from the game.
Adam Lallana is a crucial part of Jurgen Klopp’s team
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When Adam Lallana was subbed off against Swansea City with a groin injury, there was a fear that Liverpool’s attacking impetus would be compromised but these fears amounted to very little.
Against Manchester United, however, Lallana’s energy and ceaseless desire to have the ball back was hugely missed. His replacement for an hour of the game was Daniel Sturridge and for the entire first half, Liverpool was effectively playing with 10 men. The English forward was nowhere to be seen other than when he dropped deep into the midfield to receive the ball.
When Klopp brought Lallana on, the game swung in Liverpool’s favour. It would be completely unfair to say that the former Southampton skipper changed the game on his own, but it would be correct to suggest that his presence spurred his teammates on to try more to win the game.
His tidy footwork coupled with his intensity lifted Liverpool and the Reds looked the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock. What a transformation Lallana has gone through that he is one of the first names on the team sheet. 15 months ago, he was out of favour and a shadow of the player Liverpool paid £25 million for.
Now, he’s getting nominated for awards and leading Liverpool towards a potential Premier League title challenge. Crazy.
Mourinho’s negative tactics indicate how far Liverpool has come under Jurgen Klopp
Manchester United only had 35% of the ball at Anfield last night and, according to Opta Joe, it’s the lowest ball possession figure United has had for thirteen years – since Opta began collating stats for football games.
Liverpool has been in explosive form this season and Mourinho deployed his team in a way that was deliberately focused on stopping the Reds scoring and not in any way seeking to win the game. At times, United had six defenders at the back.
According to the Metro, Mourinho even tried, hilariously, to suggest the stats weren’t as bad as they are.
“It was 42%,” Mourinho claimed. “We asked our guy. Our guy is better than them.”
”‘Liverpool are a good team but they are not the last wonder of the world,” he added.”
“Tactically from a defensive view we did really well.”
Liverpool is a good team, and, defensively, United was extremely good, but that’s all they were. There was no intent to win the game aside from a 15-minute spell in the first half. This respect shown by Mourinho just shows how far Liverpool has come under Jurgen Klopp.
The last time the Portuguese manager set his team up like that against Liverpool it was the 2013/14 season when the Reds were the best attacking side in England.
Loris Karius was shaky – again
Most Liverpool fans dislike Simon Mignolet intensely for his inability to hold a cross. It was for this reason that Jurgen Klopp bought Loris Karius in the summer from Mainz for £4.3 million.
The German came with a reputation of being the latest ‘keeper to come from the German machine that seems to churn out top-class footballers.
In his first few competitive games for Liverpool, however, Karius has been unable to provide evidence that comparisons with Manuel Neuer are fair. His distribution is supposedly a part of his game that is top-notch and yet he very almost conceded a goal yesterday as a result of some sloppy passing.
If Karius is to retain his spot ahead of Simon Mignolet, he needs to up his game and prove why he deserves to be Liverpool’s number one goalkeeper.
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