Liverpool 1 Man United 1: Lessons from a close game

What did we learn from Liverpool's tense 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday?

Premier League, 15 October 2011, Anfield
team1
Liverpool
1 - 1
team2
Man United

Man-of-the-match Steven Gerrard leads by example

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish spoke of the boost which Steven Gerrard’s return from injury had given the club – and the captain, starting his first game of the season, effortlessly slotted back into his combative midfield role. The 31-year-old was a presence all over the pitch, supporting Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva when United were in possession while still finding the energy to drive forward and showcase his crossing ability. And he capped a fine performance with a goal, squeezing his free-kick between Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck in the United wall to hand the home side the lead after 68 minutes.

Goal poacher Javier Hernández showcases his talent again

United’s Mexican forward continues to enhance his reputation as a clinical goalscorer in and around the 18-yard box. Gerrard’s strike prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to introduce Hernández as a second-half substitute – and the striker made an immediate impact. From a United corner, he managed to manufacture space, despite being closely marked by Martin Skrtel, and he headed past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina to earn his side a point.

Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique give Liverpool width

United right-back Chris Smalling endured a testing 90 minutes as Luis Enrique and Stewart Downing proved to be constant threats on Liverpool’s left side. The pair combined on numerous occasions to surge past Smalling and deliver dangerous balls into the box – but Liverpool’s pint-sized forwards Dirk Kuyt and Suárez were unable to capitalise as the aerial threat of Andy Carroll remained untapped on the substitutes bench.

United’s midfield lacked creativity

Phil Jones, Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung offered little creativity in the centre of the park as the trio were kept quiet by defensive midfield duo Adam and Lucas, who devoured any vacant space in front of their defence. It suited the visitors’ cautious approach to the game but it left Welbeck isolated, while Ashley Young was asked to manufacture his own chances on goal.

Martin Kelly continues to stake his claim at right-back

Martin Kelly excelled as he faced one of his toughest assignments in a Liverpool shirt. The 21-year-old was asked to keep tabs on the in-form Young as Ferguson looked to his winger’s pace and trickery to cause the inexperienced right-back problems. But Kelly, deputising for the injured Glen Johnson, looked comfortable and added an extra dimension to the home side’s attacks, offering support to Gerrard and Kuyt in the final third.

Jadon Sancho
Gary Lineker rates Jadon Sancho’s display in Man United’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea FC
Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho names Chelsea FC legends as his footballing idols
Martin Keown
Martin Keown makes prediction about Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli after ‘perfect’ goal
Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane (Photo: Screen grab / Sky Sports)
Roy Keane offers blunt assessment of Chelsea FC’s 1-1 draw with Man United
Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta sends open message to Arsenal fans about Gabriel Martinelli
Jadon Sancho
Gary Lineker rates Jadon Sancho’s display in Man United’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea FC
Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho names Chelsea FC legends as his footballing idols
Martin Keown
Martin Keown makes prediction about Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli after ‘perfect’ goal
Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane (Photo: Screen grab / Sky Sports)
Roy Keane offers blunt assessment of Chelsea FC’s 1-1 draw with Man United
Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta sends open message to Arsenal fans about Gabriel Martinelli
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature