The game on Monday night didn’t quite live up to expectations after it proved to be a cagey affair, but United may find themselves the happier of the two sides by taking away a point from Anfield.
It was clear as soon as the lineups were announced shortly before kickoff that Jose Mourinho intended to set his side up with a more defensive outlook, having played Fellaini, Herrera, and Young in midfield. Martial and Mkhitaryan were notable absentees from the squad, with Rooney finding himself on the bench for the third game in a row.
The first half was controlled by United as they had the lion’s share of possession, but not much to show for it by way of chances or shots. Liverpool grew into the match towards the end of the half with a greater threat towards goal, but United’s solid defence kept their attack in check, with the excellent Herrera helping to shield Smalling and Bailly.
The second half produced more action, with David De Gea called into action on two occasions by superbly saving two goal-bound shots. But not before Zlatan Ibrahimovic spurned United’s best chance of the match in the 54th minute. Pogba dribbled past his man near the corner of the box and lobbed in a perfect cross towards Zlatan at the far post, but he could only head across and away from goal.
Emre Can then found himself in front of goal after weaving skillfully through the heart of United’s defence, but his low shot was brilliantly blocked by De Gea. David was forced to produce another great save, this time from Coutinho who unleashed a ferocious long distance shot which De Gea got his fingertips to.
It was a nervy finish for United but they managed to see the game through.
Man of the match
Ander Herrera was the undoubted man-of-the-match after a disciplined and controlling performance. The statistics below speak for themselves.
5/5 take-ons completed
Mourinho’s Take On The Game
Mourinho was satisfied with the result, although he felt it wasn’t ideal.
“I think it was a good performance. Difficult match, for us and for them and I think we controlled the game tactically, emotionally, and it’s not easy to do both things. The result I think is acceptable, we wanted more.”
When queried on Paul Pogba’s game, he mentioned how his defensive play was very good, but alluded as to how his, and the team’s in general, offensive play wasn’t up to par.
“That defensive side of the game I think that he was perfect. Even the goalkeeper was on holiday for 90 minutes but he had two big saves to do and he did. When we recover the ball I was expecting the team to be more dangerous in spite of having a couple of very important chances.”
Jose also recognized Ander Herrera’s great contribution to the match which earned him the man-of-the-match award, but made it a point that it was the good performances of the players around him that allowed him to focus on his job.
“Ander was completely focused on the job on Coutinho, so he played very well, he recovered a lot of balls, he gave always a way to get out of their pressure, very calm in possession.”