Paul Stafford discusses whether or not Liverpool should be happy with a draw at Old Trafford.
Liverpool – began the day in their toxic thunder kits and without Coutinho, Clyne, Sturridge and Matip starting, took on the imposing dark forces of Old Trafford and acquitted themselves professionally.
Jürgen Klopp, eyeballing the opposition before the match as Merseyside and Manchester went head to head in both cities, exuded calm before the storm. On the blue half of Merseyside, Everton had already handed Manchester city a hiding. With Arsenal and Tottenham already pulling ahead of them in the league, Liverpool needed a victory to keep pace with the front runners.
A point would have been acceptable considering where they were playing and the form both teams are currently in, but Klopp’s men took a first half lead courtesy of a James Milner penalty – his sixth of the campaign and should have hung on to gain three more valuable points, but alas, all of their hard work was to be undone by an offside goal!
This is to be expected in the city of Manchester where results, not always deserved, have gone the Red Devil’s way due to either poor officiating, ‘Fergie Time’ or blatantly biased calls on the field. Usually, an official from the greater Manchester area somehow takes charge of these matches.
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Liverpool began the match on the back foot, having to defend United’s early pressing, but gradually grew into the match with some fine attacking displays which made United grow increasingly nervous. Divock Origi led the line, making a nuisance of himself and causing the United back line considerable problems. His hold up play was brilliant. It is this style of play that gives him the nod ahead of Daniel Sturridge.
The Liverpool goalkeeper put in a ‘Man of the Match’ performance and saved the Reds from going behind early in dangerous United attacks. Simon Mignolet seems hungry to keep his place in the side and it showed. Even his parries and punches, most notably Ibrahimovic’s pile driver, were done with conviction. He saved Liverpool on the day, as did Karius in Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final against Southampton. Hopefully, this competition between colleagues will produce two fine goalkeepers, eager to impress.
Emre Can was again guilty of giving away possession and slowing up the play, but he is still quite young and I do have faith that he will come of age and take his place in Liverpool history as he has a lot of raw talent and has a lot of potential. Fans just need to have patience with him, he is, after all, much better than Lucas!
Liverpool clearly missed Sadio Mane out wide but provided a spark in the returning Coutinho. It seemed like he didn’t need time to adjust after being out for so long, back playing alongside his ‘old pair of shoes’ in the form of Firmino and worried Mourinho to the point where he brought on all his subs early in the second half. With Origi departed, Firmino shifted to the centre of attack, but it will take time for him to gel together again with his old partner. The pair of them were so formidable in attack in the early part of the season.
Joel Matip was also missing, as was Clyne, but Lovren and Klavan covered well, and Alexander-Arnold did an excellent job in keeping Martial quiet for most of the match, although he did put in one dangerous through ball which nearly led to a goal!
All in all, it was a good match for the neutrals to watch, but, like me, most Liverpool fans will see this as two points dropped, because Liverpool were winning with six minutes left to go, only to be undone by an offside goal! But take heart Liverpool fans, for we are still in third place, and above Arsenal, Man United, and City. I just hope that Klopp sees the need for reinforcements in this window to give the team a lift.