Liverpool were held to their second 0-0 draw in as many games, as they disappointed on their way to a share of the spoils away to Man United on Sunday.
Man United 0-0 Liverpool
Premier League, Old Trafford
February 24, 2019
With Man City to play in the League Cup final later in the day, the emphasis was on the Reds to take advantage and return to the top of the Premier League with victory in English football’s biggest game.
They took on a United side reinvigorated by the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager, but with Liverpool in strong form of late and Virgil van Dijk returning to the fold, they will have been confident of a result.
Klopp made just two changes to the side that drew with Bayern Munich in midweek, and made a bold call as James Milner started at right-back, in a game marred by injuries and few opportunities at either end.
- Klopp makes two changes with Milner a surprise starter at right-back
- Injuries dominate first half with Herrera, Mata, Firmino and Lingard limping off
- Matip scares travelling Kop with own goal ruled out for offside
- Liverpool go top of the Premier League but will be disappointed not to win
The game began with a strange situation, as a mixup between David de Gea and Ashley Young gave Liverpool an indirect free-kick in the penalty area, but Milner and Jordan Henderson wasted the opportunity.
Taking an attacking outlook, the Reds looked to push United back whenever possible, with Milner particularly high up the pitch as he doubled up on Luke Shaw with Mohamed Salah.
United’s approach was through direct balls to Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku, but they were dealt a big blow early on with Ander Herrera forced off, as Andreas Pereira taking his place after just 21 minutes.
Juan Mata soon followed, with a half-fit Jesse Lingard brought on, while Liverpool faced their own casualty as Roberto Firmino limped off and Daniel Sturridge came into attack, and then Lingard needed replacing after just over a quarter of an hour.
United arguably had the best chances of the half, with Alisson required to make an amazing save to deny Lingard, but the break came with the scores level.
Neither side impressed greatly in the opening stages of the second half, with Liverpool unable to string together any genuine openings in the final third as Sturridge and Salah struggled for fluency.
The Reds continued to pump direct passes towards the attack, to no joy, and Klopp eventually made the first roll of the dice as Xherdan Shaqiri came on looking for another match-winning display off the bench against United.
His introduction prompted a change of shape, moving away from the 4-3-3 and back to a 4-2-3-1, with Shaqiri on the right and Sturridge dropping to the No. 10 role behind Salah.
The Old Trafford crowd thought Matip had put the hosts in front with an own goal, but Chris Smalling was rightly flagged for offside following Luke Shaw’s free-kick, in a bit let-off for an off-colour Liverpool.
United had another great chance with Smalling late on, but the defender opted against gambling at the far post, and though Klopp’s side go top of the Premier League with a point, the manager will no doubt be angry with their lack of vibrancy.
TIA Man of the Match: Fabinho
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; McTominay, Herrera (Pereira 21′), Pogba; Mata (Lingard 25′, Sanchez 42′), Rashford, Lukaku
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Dalot, Fred
Subs not used: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Lallana, Keita
* Additional reporting by ISNTV.