Makeshift Manchester United Deal Hammer Blow on Liverpool’s Title Chances
In a match disrupted by injuries and animosity, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form Manchester United held a frustrated Liverpool side to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Jurgen Klopp’s men are now only one point clear at the top, with Manchester City breathing down their necks.
Liverpool Dealt Blow By Makeshift Manchester United
In the first half, there were more substitutes than shots on target and Manchester United were forced to improvise. “It’s less like the Red Devils, and more like the Red Cross”, joked Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler at half time. Nevertheless, Solskjaer’s side were remarkably resilient and adaptable.
United were severely injury-hit, yet Klopp’s side failed to exploit the uncertainty that emerged from such frequent tactical reshuffling by Manchester United.
This is ultimately testament to the Red Devils’ will-power and desire, as they remain one point above fifth-placed Arsenal. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s performance will bring their title ambitions into serious doubt and scrutiny.
Despite being the dominant side, Liverpool were worryingly lacklustre in the final third and a shadow of their usual selves. Naturally, fans will contrast this lack of indomitable fire-power with Manchester City’s 6-0 annihilation of Chelsea two weeks ago.
Invaluable Point or Missed Opportunity?
Today’s result signifies Liverpool’s third draw from four games. A draw and a clean sheet at Old Trafford is undoubtedly impressive, but this was a missed opportunity. If Klopp’s men are to be treated as serious title candidates then they must be held to such a high standard, since Manchester City have the potential to punish their shortcomings.
Despite not winning the game, Liverpool fans can take away several positives. Attacking toothlessness aside, their solid and compact defence subdued a determined attacking trio of Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez.
To Klopp’s concern, however, Joel Matip’s drive into the Manchester United box in the first half showed more attacking initiative than the entire Liverpool attack combined. In a game that was crying out for star-quality, Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah went missing.
Happening All Over Again?
Many pundits have identified the parallels between the climax to the 2013/14 campaign and Liverpool’s current situation. The Reds have recently shrunk a convincing seven-point lead to just one, which will leave fans fearing the worst.
They were determined yet failed to capitalise on a United side plagued with injuries. “The top teams in history would have won that game”, commented Gary Neville after the game, which brought their character and title-winning credentials into question.
Today was a golden opportunity to make a statement, but Liverpool failed to take their chance. With Manchester City in scintillating form, it is entirely possible that they will leapfrog Liverpool in coming weeks.
Question marks will be raised in spite of an impressive draw at Old Trafford. While there were several signs of encouragement, a repeat of the 2013/14 season will nonetheless be widely entertained.