United went to Anfield yesterday and were well and truly thumped. The 3-1 scoreline was flattering to United who were once the most feared side in England but are now languishing in midtable. So the question is: in England’s fiercest rivalry between Man Utd and Liverpool has the tide turned?
United started the match with Paul Pogba on the bench. It was clear from the United line up they were going to Anfield to be tight and compact and try and frustrate Liverpool. Classic Jose really. The plan backfired when Liverpool scored first but fair play to United they managed to claw themselves back into the match before being sunk by two Shaqiri goals.
What’s crazy about yesterday’s game was the stats for the match. Liverpool fans have been mocking United claiming that they look like the stats for a game of Fifa. It’s easy to see why. Traditionally United Vs. Liverpool is a cagey, tense affair. This was not the case yesterday as Liverpool dominated United. They registered an impressive 36 shots to United’s 6. They also notched up an impressive 13 corners. United managed just 2. This does not make pretty reading for United fans.
The combined XI
Prior to the match, there was a section on the Sky punditry where former United and Liverpool greats Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher contested what their best eleven from the two teams combined would be. Even though Neville is famously United biased he only put 4 United players into his combined team. Carragher selected but two. When quizzed on his choices Neville replied, half-embarrassed “I just wanted to put some United players in there”. And who can blame him? Apart from David De Gea, there are few United players who would get near this Liverpool side and that is showing in the respective form of the two teams.
If ever there was a fitting time to use the cliché “mind the gap” it’s this season. Liverpool sit proudly atop of the premier league a point clear of title rivals Man City. Whereas United lay down in 6th a massive 19 points adrift. Die Hard United fans might point to overturning a 12 point deficit against Newcastle United. But they were different times. That United side knew about winning league titles. This one does not. In fact, at times it looks like this side can’t even win a football match. Such is their fall from grace.
Is it just this season?
I wish that I could say this result was an anomaly. Liverpool have looked stronger year after year under the management of Klopp and this season they look like genuine title contenders. Whether they will have the mettle to see off the more experienced Man City remains to be seen. United look a spent force. They are 6th in the league at this moment and could feasibly find themselves in the bottom half of the table if they don’t start to gather some momentum. Their next two fixtures see them take on Cardiff and Huddersfield. Both of which should be “bankers” but you never know with this United side.
It’s hard to see Liverpool going backwards. They have a young side and their youthful defence is getting better and better under the excellent tutelage of Van Dijk. As for United. They have an underperforming world cup winner in Pogba warming their bench and several prestigious talents underperforming. Jose has been taking a lot of flack lately but you have to question who could stem the tide at United? The sad truth is that they just aren’t very good.