SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) applauds the fans (Peter Byrne/PA)

National media say Liverpool have “ridden their luck” – title is Arsenal’s “to lose”

The watching media were left unimpressed by Liverpool’s performance in the flat 0-0 draw vs. Man United, with their title credentials taking a hit.

The Reds were resounding favourites to win at Anfield in front of a near-full new Anfield Road Stand, but they simply couldn’t get going.

Liverpool’s final ball was consistently poor and by the time the final minutes arrived, Man United arguably looked as likely to steal a win.

Here’s how the media reacted to a disappointing afternoon on Merseyside.

 

One of Liverpool’s poorest performances this season

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Manchester United's Rasmus Højlund sees his shoot saved by Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian‘s Andy Hunter focused on a damp squib of an afternoon:

“Anfield held harrowing recent memories for Manchester United but Erik ten Hag’s side returned to the scene of last season’s crime to blunt Liverpool with an unexpected show of defiance.

Jurgen Klopp disliked the pre-match talk of another Liverpool landslide; he will have liked the eventual outcome even less.

“Liverpool’s run of 11 straight home wins this season was halted by a resolute United performance in front of Anfield’s biggest crowd for over half a century.

“The extra 7,000 seats in the upper tier of the new Anfield Road stand merely increased the frustration among the home crowd as Klopp’s side squandered the chance to return to the Premier League summit.

“Diogo Dalot was dismissed in the 94th minute for two stupid shows of dissent in quick succession but Liverpool lacked the composure or time to inflict fresh torment on their great rivals.”

On X, David Lynch felt this was a result that had been coming:

“Liverpool have massively ridden their luck in recent weeks in terms of creating very few real chances but still scoring enough to win.

“That came to an end today and it’s cost them what was a massive opportunity to put their foot down with Man City stumbling and Arsenal to come.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This Is Anfield‘s Mark Delgado bemoaned a below-par day at the office for the Reds:

“While the first few minutes of the game suggested that might be the case, with the Reds coming out strong and creating a few openings down the flanks, that early buzz – both metaphorical from the tempo and literal, from the crowd – soon wore off.

“The Reds were too sloppy in possession, with Dominik Szoboszlai, Mo Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold all guilty of wasting decent openings or positions through poor weight of pass.

“Add that lack of incision and cohesion to the wider fact that this, from a tactical perspective, was like facing Burnley or Nottingham Forest – 10 behind the ball, no intent to attack – and the frustration with a lack of clear-cut chances was apparent very quickly.

“More was needed from Liverpool in terms of creativity, in movement and in decision-making of when to shoot, but there’d even so be an expectation we beat comfortably the worst Man United team in a decade.”

 

A number of issues in the team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Liverpool's Ryan Gravenberch during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch are badly out of form, according to Delgado:

“Szoboszlai, more than anybody else, hit the ground running this season to mark himself out as a standout signing of the summer.

“However, more than a handful of performances of late have wavered between uneven and downright poor, with the latter on show again on Sunday.

“The No.8 was too slow to pick his pass, didn’t really drive at his man through the middle when both opponents were on yellow cards and continued to spurn chances to find a teammate, right up until he was subbed on the hour mark.

Ryan Gravenberch also departed then, albeit through injury, but the Dutchman similarly flattered to deceive. A couple of driving runs aside, he was a non-event too much, too often.”

Mark Jones of the Mirror feels Liverpool’s attack is misfiring currently:

“Despite that pressure though, Liverpool were unable to make it count in front of goal in the first 45 minutes, with a lack of fluency in attack costing them on too many occasions when it came to the last pass or finding space for a shot.

 

The Premier League title race has taken another twist

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 17, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While rather tongue in cheek from Ian Doyle on X, it does arguably feel as though Arsenal are the title favourites, especially if they win at Anfield:

“The main take from today’s action is this is a title that is Arsenal‘s to lose.

“Should they get a positive result at Anfield next weekend, they can’t possibly allow the Premier League crown to slip through their hands for a second season in a row.”

Jones found it impossible to deny that these were sloppy points dropped up against Arsenal and Man City:

“Take everything away from the nature of the contest, and this was simply two title points dropped by a Liverpool side who haven’t played well for a good few weeks now.

“The Reds were disjointed increasingly looked less sure of themselves as they tried to break down their hosts. Having seen Man City drop points on Saturday this was a wasted opportunity.”

“The main take from today’s action is this is a title that is Arsenal‘s to lose.

“Should they get a positive result at Anfield next weekend, they can’t possibly allow the Premier League crown to slip through their hands for a second season in a row.”

Finally, Oliver Holt of the Daily Mail cast doubt over Liverpool’s chances of going all the way:

“Liverpool looked like a very good side slightly flattered by starting the day at the top of the Premier League.

“Klopp has done a brilliant job to manage their transition so seamlessly but they are still a new team finding a new rhythm and getting to know each other. They did not quite have the subtlety and the understanding to break United down.

“They had started the match in third place after earlier wins for Arsenal and Aston Villa had knocked them off the top of the table.

“They ended it in second, moving above Villa on goal difference. Many still see Arsenal and Manchester City as the leading contenders for the title.”