Manchester United and Liverpool both came into this game after 3-3 thrillers against Newcastle and Arsenal earlier in the week. Louis van Gaal’s United have become synonymous with 0-0 score-lines this season while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been producing dazzling displays one week and rather poor ones the next. United remained unchanged at Anfield with Liverpool making just one change with Lucas replacing Jordan Ibe.
Liverpool started the off the better team. They looked more energised and creative than a United side stifled with expectation. At the 10 minute mark a long ball caught Chris Smalling out of position and allowed Adam Lallana to sneak in and have an opportunity to score. David de Gea stood firm and saved Lallan’s header with ease. Five minutes later Marouane Fellaini and Lucas clashed after Fellaini appeared to stand on Lucas’ foot. A push and a shove with Fellaini squaring up to Lucas didn’t produce any cards though. Around the half hour mark saw Liverpool create a flurry of opportunities on the United goal. Firmino set up Jordan Henderson only for him to put it wide. A few moments later Henderson found himself missing another opportunity as he blazed the ball over the bar. James Milner was also guilty of wasting an opportunity. An exquisite pass from the left from Emre Can wasn’t capitalised on as Milner failed to control the ball well enough forced himself too wide to trouble de Gea with a shot. With half time approaching Firmino found himself in the box but lost his balance as Martial made the tackle. The referee blew for half time with the scores level.
The second half was a continuation of the first half until the last quarter of an hour. Liverpool continued to control the game and United continued to look disorganised and bereft of any ideas. It didn’t take long before Liverpool were trying to test de Gea again. Firmino drove past Smalling and got a powerful shot off but de Gea managed to save with the inside of his leg. Martial then took on the Liverpool defence with some clever footwork and a burst of pace but he ended up shooting wide. The game had just past the hour mark when Henderson received the ball on the edge of the box but couldn’t direct his shot either side of de Gea. Easy save. Jesse Lingard was substituted as Juan Mata was given the opportunity to add more creativity to a United midfield that badly needed it. Defensively United remained fairly solid but an Emre Can shot from distance produced a fine save from de Gea with Firmino’s follow up dealt with immediately by the impressive goalkeeper. The Premier League is a very unforgiving league and the mood at Anfield began to change. After all their possession and chances to score Liverpool had failed to capitalise and everybody knows that United are the kings of 1-0 wins because of the quality in their team. It took United until the 77th minute before the scored but it was a fantastic sight to see. Daley Blind combined with Mata by taking the corner quickly and Mata’s cross found the head of Fellaini who hit the crossbar with his header. Up pops Wayne Rooney to smash home the winner.
Liverpool pushed for an equaliser but even the introduced of Christian Benteke was not enough to change the outcome of the game. While Liverpool were the better side they still lack the quality and that special kind of player who will single handedly win you points on days like today. United have a world class goalkeeper who is capable of that and when you have strikers like Wayne Rooney in your team you are always capable of scoring goals. Tottenham fans will have been watching with interest as another win for Louis van Gaal’s men means the pressure is on for the top four once again.