Mission accomplished for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United: nullify Liverpool’s fluid, rapid attacks by sitting deep and shutting down the midfield, grabbing a hard-earned point in the process.
Perhaps Jose Mourinho might point to Romelu Lukaku’s golden opportunity to potentially steal the spoils in an attempt to remind everyone that they also created chances to win, but it was David de Gea who leaves Anfield a hero after producing a bit of magic to ensure the deadlock containing Liverpool’s creativity was never released.
World class is a superlative thrown around loosely in football but, make no mistake, David de Gea’s reflex save from Joel Matip was as world class as it gets. Made five saves in total and was Manchester United’s undoubted Man of the Match.
Tasked with marking Liverpool’s most influential player, Philippe Coutinho, and came out on top, stifling the Brazilian’s creativity.
Other than a sloppy pass at the start of the second half that threatened to undo all of Manchester United’s hard work, Phil Jones put in yet another convincing performance as he continues to build a case to be one of their key defenders.
The trio of David de Gea, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling was the platform with which Manchester United gained a point at Anfield. Smalling was composed amidst the frantic waves of Liverpool attacks, connecting with all 23 of his passes.
Struggled with the pace and trickery of Mohamed Salah in the first half but fared better in the second. Not his best day, though, often playing long balls down the line to nowhere, and his performance was summed up when he suffered the ignominy of being called for a foul throw.
Formed a formidable partnership with Ander Herrera, throwing a blanket over every Liverpool attack that had the potential to explode into a fire. Nearly fired a first-half snapshot into the top corner, swerving the strike just over the bar.
Though erratic in possession, Ander Herrera was a rock in the heart of United’s midfield, at least from a defensive standpoint. He put his body on the line whenever necessary, tallying up a ridiculous nine tackles – by far the most from any player on the pitch.
Manchester United’s biggest threat on the ball was forced to feed off scraps as the visitors failed to establish any sort of rhythm when in possession.
Not suited in any way, shape or form to a Jose Mourinho containment set-up. Did not put in a single challenge, something which will certainly raise an eyebrow for the United manager, and failed to offer the support that Romelu Lukaku so desperately needed.
The defensive approach from Jose Mourinho explains Ashley Young’s deployment on the right flank over the more attack-minded Juan Mata, and the former England international was disciplined in his solid if unspectacular 90 minutes.
His one chance could have changed the script, firing straight at Simon Mignolet after Anthony Martial put him in a one-on-one. Otherwise, Romelu Lukaku was starved of service and brought little to the game.