Man United 3 Liverpool 1: Four talking points
Four talking points as Manchester United secure a 3-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Premier League
Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel had every right to be apprehensive ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford on Saturday evening. The centre-halves were at fault for two of West Ham United’s goals in a 3-0 victory at Anfield before the international break. But lessons didn’t appear to have been learnt. In a first half devoid of real talking points, Simon Mignolet handed Manchester United their first chance as his reckless throw-out fell to the feet of Marouane Fellaini. The makeshift centre-forward’s attempted lob floated harmlessly over the crossbar. Perhaps inspired by Mignolet’s moment of madness, Martin Skrtel played a careless ball which was intercepted and caused further panic before danger was averted before Fellaini could pull the trigger. After three successive clean sheets to start the season, there are signs that Liverpool haven’t changed their spots after all.
Liverpool Blind to Daley threat
After a turgid opening 45 minutes, eyebrows were raised when Louis van Gaal opted to bring on Ashley Young at the expense of Memphis Depay. The 21-year-old was the only United player who offered raw pace but the manager’s decision took little over 120 seconds to pay dividends. Young drew a foul from Nathaniel Clyne and from the resulting set-piece, Juan Mata picked out unmarked Daley Blind on the edge of the area. The former Ajax defender still had a lot of work to do but produced a finish befitting the technical ability of great Dutch goal-scorer – not a defender. In a week where Van Gaal was reportedly tackled by captain Wayne Rooney and vice-captain Michael Carrick over his coaching staff’s training methods, it was a training ground routine which was expertly executed. No wonder, then, Van Gaal boasted a beaming smile as he celebrated with his coaching colleagues.
Martial marks debut with goal
Anthony Martial has already been branded many things in his 11 days as a United player. Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour tipped Martial to flop, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher warned the France teenager was a gamble. But the £36m deadline-day signing placated any concerns the United supporters had with a debut goal. Minutes after Benteke’s stunning overhead kick, the 19—year-old drove at Skrtel before a fortunate touch set the United striker free before he curled a finish past Mignolet. It was as good a debut goal that Martial could wish for, although it didn’t warrant hysteria from Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler. After moving to Old Trafford with a record of 11 goals in 52 Ligue 1 appearances, Martial will hope to better that ratio after releasing some pressure on Saturday evening.
Liverpool lose must-win game
The Old Trafford clash was billed as a must-win game for United and Liverpool. Both sides appeared to be subscribing to that view in the first half, which was dull and lacked any real chances despite the best efforts of Mignolet and Skrtel to cause panic in their own defence. But Van Gaal got his half-time substitution right with Young having a positive impact before Ander Herrera duped Joe Gomez into a reckless challenge. When Liverpool lost 3-0 to United last December, the Reds went on a 13-game unbeaten run. That sequence of results prompted Rodgers to describe at Old Trafford as the best defeat of his career earlier this week. The Liverpool spin doctor can give Alastair Cambpell a run for his money at the best of times, and it’ll be interesting to see how Rodgers reacts to the current setback. After a three-game winning run to start the season, Liverpool have slumped to back-to-back defeats and have more daunting away fixtures to come. His summer signings Benteke and Firmino are still suffering from ring rust, which isn’t doing the manager any favours. Expect hashtags #RodgersOut and #KloppIn to become a common sight on Twitter should Liverpool fail to beat Norwich City.