Match Report: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Mane (2nd from R) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool began the weekend at the top of the Premier League table following Manchester City’s slip up at Stamford Bridge last weekend. However, the Reds needed to beat Manchester United if they were to regain that top spot following City’s victory over Everton. Both sides were heavily impacted by injury in the lead up to the encounter as Jurgen Klopp and his men headed out as clear favourites. 

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Dejan Lovren emphatically celebrates Shaqiri’s goal (This is Anfield)

Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho were both outstanding for Liverpool as the Reds came out 3-1 victors over their fierce rivals. Sadio Mane put the hosts in front after a delicate chip from Fabinho over the United defence provided the perfect chance for the Senegalese winger who scored his 7th of the campaign. Despite his midweek heroics in the Champions League, Alisson Becker was at fault for United’s equaliser after he spilt a harmless cross into the box from Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool continued the pressure and their persistence paid off. Excellent work from Mane down the left opened up space for Shaqiri to make an instant impact off the bench with his deflected strike leaving De Gea helpless. The Swiss international got his second of the match following good link-up between the forwards with a deflection once again helping his shot find the back of the net in front of the Kop.

The gulf between Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp's teams is huge

Jurgen Klopp celebrates a memorable victory over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United (Sky Sports)

Player Ratings (Liverpool):

Alisson Becker: 5 – The excellent form that he’s shown over the past few weeks was not on display against United. He didn’t have much to do but when he did, he let his guard down and conceded a sloppy goal. It could have costed Liverpool if it wasn’t for two lucky deflections.

Andy Robertson: 8 – Another outstanding performance from Andy Robertson who continues to prove his quality. He drove at the United backline and caused all kinds of problems. He neutralised any United attacking threat but could have delivered better crosses, especially his corners.

Virgil van Dijk (C): 7 – Filling in as captain once again due to Henderson’s omission from the starting eleven, the Dutchmen effortlessly managed the aerial threat of Lukaku and Fellaini. His passing was good but at times he could have picked up the tempo with faster build-up.

Dejan Lovren: 7 – Solid performance from Lovren. He wasn’t threatened too much with Van Dijk occupying Lukaku but when called upon he won his aerial duels. He did miss a chance early in the first half which should’ve gone in and wasted chances with pointless long shots.

Nathaniel Clyne: 8 – Excellent game from the man that has missed out on playing time for large parts of the past two seasons. He’s suffered from injury and competition from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez but was very effective for the Reds. He offered a danger down the right side but often lacked the final pass or cross once getting into those positions.

Fabinho (MOTM): 9 – Outstanding performance from the Brazilian in midfield. He controlled the tempo of the game and was an attacking threat too. He got the assist for the first goal, had 5 shots, created 3 chances with 2 key passes. His 6 recoveries allowed the attackers to have more freedom and confidence on the ball. Fantastic game from Fabinho and he appears to be getting better every game now.

Graphic showing Fabinho's 83 touches against Manchester United, which included 66 passesGraphic showing Fabinho's 83 touches against Manchester United, which included 66 passesGraphic showing Fabinho's 83 touches against Manchester United, which included 66 passesGeorginio Wijnaldum: 8 – Solid in midfield from the Dutchmen. He was strong, aware and composed on the ball and was also a threat in attack. He created 5 chances and has 92% passing accuracy with 105 touches. He has been consistently good all season for Liverpool and thoroughly deserves the amount of playing time he’s getting.

Naby Keita: 7 – Not his best game but still good from the midfielder. For most of the game, he played as a left midfielder in a 4231 system and looked threatening on the ball. He drove at the United defence but his link up with the attackers wasn’t good enough. He’s still adjusting to life in the Premier League and will only get better.

Mohamed Salah: 7 – A good performance from the Liverpool forward but once again he’s struggled against big opposition in the Premier League. He lost possession seven times throughout the match and struggled against the mass defensive numbers in the penalty area.

Roberto Firmino: 8 – He hasn’t been playing at the level we saw last season but his performance today and in the past few matches has suggested that may be coming back. He played the most part of the game as a number 10 behind Mo Salah, dropping deep to support the midfield when needed.

Sadio Mane: 9 – Composed finish for his first goal and excellent skill to set up his side’s second of the match. He looked sharp from the start and was especially dangerous attacking from the right-hand side. He made up for his misses against Napoli mid-week.

SUB: Xherdan Shaqiri: 9 – Outstanding impact off the bench from the Swiss international and not just with his two goals. Both were well taken, albeit with large deflections helping them in. But on the ball and from the minute he came on, he looked threatening and dangerous. He’s becoming a very important player for Liverpool and looks an absolute bargain at £13 million.

SUB: Jordan Henderson: 7 – Straightforward performance from the skipper. Came on late, did his job and perhaps should’ve done better with the chance he did have but otherwise he was solid.

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Xherdan Shaqiri wheels away in celebration after his deflected strike wins the match (NewsOK)

Player Ratings (Manchester United): 

David De Gea: 7 – Didn’t really have a chance with any of the 3 goals and made some brilliant saves (7) to keep his side in the game for periods of the first half.

Diogo Dalot: 5 – Poor and his half-time substitution proved that. He wasn’t good enough defensively and offered nothing in attack.

Matteo Darmian: 6 – Played an unfamiliar position for the first half but was relatively strong in both halves. Perhaps could’ve done better to not allow so much space for the second and third goals.

Eric Bailly: 6 – Would’ve had a higher rating had it not been for the deflected goal. Put the game beyond his team, albeit, it was unlucky but can’t be happening at this level.

Victor Lindelof: 6 – Solid performance at the back but needed to be more organised and focused towards the end of the game.

Ashley Young (C): 4 – Very disappointing from the captain. Expected to lead his team by example but instead spent large periods of the game complaining to the referee and getting in the faces of the opposition.

Nemanja Matic: 5 – Fabinho made him look poor considering their similar roles. Matic offered his team nothing in attack and wasn’t good enough defensively to close down space outside the box.

Ander Herrera: 6 – Perhaps at fault for the second goal by getting easily beaten by Mane but otherwise he was good. Made 4 interceptions and a very impressive 14 recoveries.

Marcus Rashford: 7 – Showed good heart and desire to keep going for the full 90 minutes. Caused some problems for Liverpool’s defence but ultimately he didn’t have enough support from Lukaku and the other midfielders.

Jesse Lingard: 7 – Similar to Rashford, worked hard throughout the game and was in the right position to finish for the equalizer.

Romelu Lukaku: 5 – Offered nothing in attack, really, although he did provide somewhat of an assist from United’s goal. He stood no chance against Van Dijk on his own and lost seven out of nine aerial duels.

SUB: Marouane Fellaini: 6 – Came on at halftime and added more physicality to the midfield but had some poor shots and wasn’t good enough to overcome the strong Liverpool midfield.

SUB: Anthony Martial/Juan Mata: N/A

Overall, Liverpool deserved the win but perhaps the manner in which they won it with two deflected strikes suggests that maybe United could’ve earned a draw. Liverpool didn’t make the most of their early dominance and will be hoping to do better in terms of attacking efficiency after scoring just 3 of 36 attempts on the day. Let us know your thoughts regarding the game by tweeting @AllOutFootball using #AOF #LIVMUN.