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The good, the bad & 2 points dropped? – Debating Liverpool 0-0 Man United

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It was another game and another draw for Liverpool against Man United as they continued to struggle to find their goal-scoring boots, leaving plenty to digest in the aftermath.

The Reds’ unbeaten league record at Anfield remained in-tact and was extended to 68 games, but the goal drought continued as the deadlock was not broken for either team.

As clear cut chances went, Liverpool did not find themselves on the end of many and it was instead Alisson who proved the saviour with brilliant saves late in the piece.

The result ensured Man United remain ahead of the Reds by three points, with Jurgen Klopp‘s men now having not secured a league win since the trip to Crystal Palace prior to Christmas.

It leaves a lot to improve on ahead of another taxing and challenging few weeks, with Burnley the next to test the champions’ resolve.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) are joined by Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) to discuss the positives and the negatives from Liverpool’s latest draw and if it was a case of one point gained or two dropped.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

AARON: Sadly, positives were few and far between and came only in a defensive sense.

Fabinho deserves huge credit, not only for his performance but the way he has adapted to the centre-back role this season. His one-on-one defending, in particular, is exceptional, as seen when denying Rashford what appeared to be a clear sight of goal.

Behind him, Alisson was once again outstanding. His two saves earned us a point.

JOANNA: Have to agree with Aaron there in regards to the few positives we can take from the game.

A clean sheet provides confidence for at least one department and Alisson was instrumental to that and provided yet another example of why we paid the big money for him. I would not have coped if United were the ones to end the unbeaten streak.

I also thought Thiago caught the eye once more, silky smooth and while he waned slightly as the game wore on, as you would expect due to his time on the sidelines, the pinch-me moments that he plays for us were still very much present.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' tackles Manchester United's Edinson Cavani during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: The major positive in a respect was that United didn’t end our undefeated home run! I’m not sure I could have coped with it being them that end it, and especially when we’re in such bad form.

Imagine the media narrative if they’d have ended it. Forever grateful for saving that Pogba effort!

Like you guys, Fabinho, Alisson and Thiago were the standouts and it’s essential they remain available for the rest of the season…

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Referee Paul Tierney (L) and Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

AARON: Unfortunately, the biggest negative was once again our attacking play – or lack thereof.

Liverpool have gone from being arguably the most dangerous attack in Europe to one that looks incapable of creating anything clear cut, never mind scoring. Despite controlling large periods of the first half, we looked blunt in the final third and failed to test De Gea.

The longer the game wore on, the more a draw looked like a good result. The absence of Van Dijk and Gomez has deprived us of Henderson and Fabinho in the middle of the park at a time when the front three are toiling. You can’t help but feel our season rests on signing a defender in the next fortnight.

Elsewhere, the referee was largely appalling, something we’re becoming used to this season.

There was absolutely no justification for him blowing for half-time as Mane was running through on goal. Added time is always described as a ‘minimum’ amount. Not only did he call time with five seconds remaining, but he also failed to let the move play out, as is customary in such situations. Perhaps we’re clutching at straws but that could have been a turning point.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) and Curtis Jones after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: The lack of goals certainly speaks for itself and we’re getting closer to the stage where it’ll become an unbearable weight on their shoulders the longer the streaks goes.

Liverpool’s performance just didn’t get you out of your seat and it’s not something I am used to when talking about this Klopp team.

But without wanting to spiral into all the negatives of the Reds, I’ll turn my attention to the terrible Sky Sports coverage – at least in my opinion – which was seemingly Man United TV.

I thought at one point I would bang my head against the wall it was that drab and one-sided.

And, like Aaron, I cannot look beyond what was yet another questionable, that’s being kind, refereeing performance and that no one can question them is getting on my last nerve.

It doesn’t stop Liverpool from scoring nor is it an excuse for any result, as fans, we just want consistent and fair decisions and it’s becoming worse by the day – but on the bright side, at least VAR was not a talking point!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: Our longest run without a league goal in 16 years should be a major concern.

Klopp is clearly searching for a solution and in that respect it was good to see Shaqiri start. Other options for me would be to go 4231 and put Salah as the No.9. Something needs to change.

There’s also the strange case of Minamino – has his best game against Palace, then hasn’t played a minute of league football since despite one goal in those four games. It’s utterly bizarre.

We brought on Milner and Origi. United brought on Cavani and Greenwood. If that doesn’t sum up how bad things are for us right now, I’m not sure much else does.

 

And is a point gained or two dropped for the Reds?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) with Trent Alexander-Arnold after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

AARON: As I mentioned above, the longer the game wore on the more attractive a draw seemed.

We’re in a wretched run of form at the moment and in desperate need of a spark, something I’m convinced a signing – even a short-term loan – would provide.

Without that, we can forget any talk of a title challenge as a top-four finish becomes very difficult in itself. United fell into the same trap we tend to when visiting Old Trafford.

They played the occasion rather than the team in front of them. Were Solskjaer braver, they could have taken all three points and knocked us out of contention.

JOANNA: I’m really inclined to sit on the fence here.

Before the game, a win was of upmost importance but after Alisson was forced into those two saves a draw seemed the best result as a defeat could not be on the cards.

With such a tight margin towards the top of the table, keeping the points tally ticking over is key and this result at least helps us do that, even though it did not see us make ground on United.

The thing is, we’ve got the clean sheets and have only conceded two in the last five league games despite our ‘makeshift’ defence, and now it’s about unlocking the attack and keeping within striking distance of the top.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: I agree with Aaron in that the longer the game went on, the draw appealed more – and like I said, the thought of them breaking the home run was becoming more of a concern!

I’ve written about my hatred of draws far too many times before, but we’ve now drawn more games than any team in the league except Brighton. It’s the draws that will cost us this season – take the last three (Newcastle, West Brom, United) and turn one into a win and two defeats and you still have the same points. Draws are shit, just ask anyone who watched the 2008/09 season.

We’re the Champions, it’s always two points dropped and you should not think of it as anything else if you want to be Champions again.

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