The Theatre of Dreams witnessed its most dreaded scoreline yet again, as the much-awaited clash between Manchester United and Liverpool ended in a goalless draw. As far as football goes, the match wasn’t the best piece of entertainment, with injuries and sluggish ploys marring the derby.
Regardless, both managers will be happy to take the lone point home given how tense things got towards the full-time whistle. In regard to how this affects the final title race, the draw may make a big difference in the long run.
1. Klopp’s Curse Continues
Yet again, Jurgen Klopp has failed to register a win at Old Trafford, and this time the gaffer’s fury was evident. Looking at the extent of Manchester United’s injury crisis going into the half-time break, Klopp would have certainly been fancying his chances to win it all.
Instead, the Merseyside club played poor football, registering only a single shot on target throughout the game, a shocker considering they now lead the Premier League table.
While he will be happy with the sole point they won at the end, Klopp will know that all three points could have made a significant difference in the title race against Manchester City, and that may come back to haunt his side later on.
2. Theatre of Injuries
Manchester United’s first half would have been painful for any spectator to watch. The game began with the side mulling over the fitness of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, of whom only the Englishman was fit to be named in the squad, that too on the bench. To further that woe, Nemanja Matic was left out late due to another knock, giving Scott McTominay the crucial holding midfielder’s spot.
But the true tragedy began with the whistle, as Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, and Ander Herrera all received knocks of their own within the first 25 minutes. The Spaniards had to be subbed off, with Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira coming on.
However, Lingard wasn’t fully fit for the substitution, and a brave encounter with Alisson took him out of the game all before the half-time whistle. This is the first time since 2015 that a Premier League side has had to make three substitutes in the first half itself.
This may develop into a much bigger problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjær, as the men presently injured are all top performers and are crucial to the manner in which he lines up.
3. 100 Premier League Clean Sheets for De Gea
On the bright side, David De Gea was able to secure a century of clean sheets in the Premier League with this draw. The monumental achievement wasn’t evident in this game, with the Spaniard having to do next to nothing at all throughout the encounter.
At the same time, this feat should also remind the higher-ups at Old Trafford as to just how important De Gea is to the team. More incentive to get his contract extension wrapped up and signed already?
4. Solskjaer Makes History
Still unbeaten in the league with Manchester United, this draw made history for the Norwegian. The former striker has now become the first Premier League gaffer to have secured a whopping 26 points in his first 10 games in charge. All of this in just 67 days, the managerial shadow of Jose Mourinho left behind.
Despite not being able to win against Liverpool and temporarily losing the 4th place to Arsenal, Solskjaer may still have made a vital case for his full-time appointment soon with this tactical point won.
Any manager can do well with a fully-fit squad, but the way the Red Devils managed to not concede despite their injuries is well beyond impressive. His only arguable act of naivety in the game and in the two months so far is letting the injured Lingard come on instead of Alexis Sanchez for that first substitution.
5. What An Effort
More than one Manchester United supporter may have thought it game over in the first half, when all three substitutions were made, a midfield that never played together before populating their lineup, and Marcus Rashford nursing a slight limp.
However, the manner in which they bounced back in the second-half was impressive. A solid brand of defensive football was on show, with Romelu Lukaku, in particular, making his presence known across the pitch. The flank spot certainly suits him.
Even Sanchez was fairly steady on his flank, save for his defensive flaws, but alongside Lukaku, the duo threatened to counter on more than one occasion. This was aided by the rock-solid presence of Lindelof as well. Luke Shaw did an ace job of bossing Mo Salah, whose impact was minimal and morose throughout the game.
All in all, Old Trafford will be gutted that Chris Smalling wasn’t able to ensure a Fergie Time finish late into the game.