Late drama went against Manchester United at Old Trafford, as Liverpool were able to halt their resurgence to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
The home side took the lead with a well-intended shot from Marcus Rashford and seemed set to control the game until substitute Adam Lallana’s first goal in two years in the 85th minute changes things around.
1. Rashford’s Drought Over
Marcus Rashford will be immensely relieved to have scored during the game as the rest of his contributions were likewise mediocre in keeping up with his recent form.
In fact, at the mid-way mark of the second half, both goalkeepers had more successful touches to their name than the Englishman, which aptly illustrates his struggles up-front.
At the same time, the return of Anthony Martial will be viewed as a massive positive and could very well mark the end of Rashford’s tumultuous period as a striker.
2. VAR Drama
Ever since the inclusion of VAR this Premier League season, the drama has increased multifold.
On Sunday, it was the events leading up to Manchester United’s opener which caused some controversy. Victor Lindelof appeared to have fouled Divock Origi prior to Daniel James’ spirited run and pass to Rashford. However, VAR didn’t count that as a foul.
To add to the dismay of Liverpool fans, Sadio Mane’s equalizer moments later was discounted by the system, as the forward’s hand had made contact with the ball.
Jurgen Klopp’s multiple frustrating conversations with the referee seemed to best indicate the mood at the camp, but the efficacy of the system could not be questioned in the second instance.
3. Mixed Approach
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer responded well to the criticism that was hurled at him as this fixture was powered with an actual tactical game plan in mind.
The goal seemed similar to the one set out when he led the Red Devils against Tottenham Hotspur last season with composure and sitting deep while sticking close to the oppositions’ fullbacks appearing to be the main virtues of their gameplay.
However, yet again the Norwegian failed to kill the game once they were leading, ensuring the loss of yet more points. The Red Devils, alongside Aston Villa, have now dropped the most amount of points while in a winning position. While the relegation zone no longer threatens United significantly, his job at Old Trafford is far from safe.
It is once again the prerogative of the board to sign more players as the squad was outstanding in their efforts today but simply lacked the requisite quality.
4. Klopp’s Persistence
In sharp contrast, Jurgen Klopp was the very picture of energy and stubborn confidence.
It was evident that Solskjaer’s tactics have worked since the Merseyside club wasn’t in their usual attacking swagger and impeccable high-press for much of the game. However, Klopp remained persistent and refused to accept defeat.
The nature of his substitutions directly led to Liverpool’s equalizer and while the lack of 18 consecutive wins will hurt, avoiding defeat to a poorly performing Manchester United will certainly be notched up as a huge positive by their fans.
5. No Salah
The key difference in Liverpool’s approach was the absence of Mo Salah. Despite trying to be a holistic squad, the Egyptian’s erstwhile attacking brilliance was sorely missed.
Until Adam Lallana’s goal, Sadio Mane’s controversial effort was the only solid attempt by the traveling side in the whole game and that speaks volumes about their dependency on Salah.
This is something Klopp must work on and remaining undefeated and having a comfortable cushion of points over Manchester City gives him and Liverpool ample time to sort it out.