Liverpool’s pressing against Manchester United was out of this world. The Reds didn’t give their rivals an inch at Old Trafford.
Liverpool were unreal at Old Trafford. That’s pretty clear from the 5-0 scoreline but the manner in which they did it was particularly notable.
Because, really, that 5-0 scoreline is a little flattering on United. The game effectively stopped after an hour, with the hosts falling to 10 men and giving up on the game.
Though, you can argue that Mohamed Salah’s hat-trick goal really forced them to give up hope. It took a few minutes after half-time for Liverpool to remind United that it wasn’t going to be their day.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s disallowed goal then really hammered that home.
There were several reasons for the thrashing. Liverpool’s attacking movement was sensational, stretching United far beyond what they were capable of handling.
As ever with Liverpool, though, you’ve got to mention the pressing. And at Old Trafford, they were out of this world.
Liverpool’s pressing vs United
To start with, let’s look at United’s stats. They came out of the gates looking to really attack Liverpool and put them under pressure.
Overall, they applied pressure on a Liverpool player 72 times over the 90 minutes. Fred led the way for them with 17 presses – over twice as many as anyone else on the team. In other words, no one else had more than eight presses.
Liverpool had six players who reached double-digits in pressing. Five of those pressed at least 15 times and two – Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino – more than 20.
In total, Liverpool applied pressure 134 times – nearly twice that of United. They were the away team here! They were the one with a big lead and every reason to sit back and frustrate their hosts.
Some individual numbers are particularly notable. For instance, we mentioned both Jota and Firmino there as hitting over 20 presses. More specifically, Jota pressed 25 times and Firmino 22.
So let’s provide a ridiculous comparison – United’s front-four. In total, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood pressed 19 times. In other words, less than two Liverpool players managed individually.
(We’re being very kind to Greenwood by mentioning a contribution there. He didn’t actually press once)
Statsbomb (whose data we’re using here) measure a ‘successful’ press as one that sees your team get the ball back within six seconds of that pressure. That player doesn’t need to win the tackle but they need to have contributed pressure.
Jota’s 25 presses came at a 32% success rate. That is unbelievably good. For comparison, Ronaldo and Fernandes only pressed six times each. They were also successful only once each for 16%.
He’s been called a ‘pressing monster’ before and Jota more than lived up to that label.
Best in the world
There’s one player we really want to mention here – Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain had a great game even before looking at these stats.
But with his pressing vs United, Henderson just reaches an incredible level.
He pressed 15 times in this game and was successful with eight of those. In other words, Liverpool had the ball within six seasons of Henderson pressing more often than not.
That’s unreal. That’s so good that it shouldn’t really be possible. Henderson is almost certainly the best pressing player on the planet, able to pick his moments to near perfection.
No one else in this game even comes close to that kind of success rate. Anyone who boasts a better percentage did so with 30% of the attempts.
Sensational. And coming in a game where both of his midfield partners left early with injuries, disrupting the game plan. The Liverpool captain is truly something special.
There are so many other things to mention here. Like Curtis Jones coming on at 2-0 with the game comfortable and still pressing 16 times – one shy of United’s best.
This was just a masterclass is pressing. Liverpool just didn’t give United an inch, preventing them from ever really getting forward into a good area.
To do so as an away side and so consistently all game is unbelievable. Liverpool are a machine and one that no team can properly handle.