“On to next week” is a healthy perspective to have when considering the Premier League, and both Liverpool and Manchester United seem to be familiar with the philosophy.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United always is a special occasion, and the build-up to Sunday’s meeting — the teams’ 50th in the Premier League era (since 1992) — was replete with hype videos and the promise of a spectacle and good times just over the horizon.
But the game itself failed to live up to its billing, as the teams played to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. James Milner put Liverpool on the scoreboard first, converting from the penalty spot in the 27th minute following Paul Pogba’s ill-advised hand-ball inside Manchester United’s penalty area. Liverpool held onto the lead for the better part of the next hour, but its defense ultimately cracked in the 84th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic tied the score with a glancing header.
The result was fair on balance of play, as neither Manchester United nor Liverpool delivered their best performances. The teams defended well, limiting the opponent to few opportunities, but their attacking play lacked sparkle.
Liverpool’s makeshift back four, which included Ragnar Klavan and rookie Trent Alexander-Arnold, performed better than expected. The Reds’ front six pressed the Red Devils from start to finish, limiting time and space their creative players needed to shine. Manchester United created more quality chances than Liverpool but wasted most of them. Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet warrants special praise for making decisive saves when called upon.
Liverpool has drawn three and lost one of its four games in 2017. Sadio Mane’s departure to the Africa Cup of Nations and Philippe Coutinho’s ankle injury has hampered the Reds’ attack. Coutinho created one chance in 30 minutes against Manchester United but, like his team, the Brazilian is far from his best form.
Perhaps it’s fitting both Milner and Ibrahimovic, Liverpool’s and Manchester United’s respective “Mr. Reliable,” scored goals. Manchester United-Liverpool isn’t a contest for the faint of heart. It’s for those who deliver week-in-week-out, year-in-year-out.
Liverpool remains in the hunt for the Premier League title, trailing Chelsea by seven points. The Reds must rediscover their scoring touch and consistently defend as well as they did against Manchester United in order to close the gap. Manchester United had won nine consecutive games, but the Liverpool draw ended both the streak and the Red Devils’ hopes of storming into the title race.
Here are a few other notable aspects of Manchester United vs. Liverpool:
The world’s most expensive player had a bad game against Liverpool, and it came on a day in which he debuted a new haircut and Twitter christened the #Pogba emoji in his honor. Pogba’s early miss, handball, ensuing frustration and overall performance made him the butt of many a joke.
Good things happen to Milner’s teams when he scores, and he’s thriving as Liverpool’s penalty-kick taker.
“Ibra” the conqueror
The Manchester United striker this week boasted he needed just three months to conquer English soccer. The 35-year-old certainly is the new king of Manchester (at least the red half) in the early days of his Premier League career.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com