Liverpool came into this game one point better off than same time last year as they visited Old Trafford for a face-off which is known all round the world for one of the fiercest rivalries in football. The Reds (nah, not Man United) secured Christian Benteke who scored both home and away last season against the Red Devils for Aston Villa; David De Gea returned to the Manchester United side after his Real Madrid move fell through.
Both teams were missing some of their stars – Danny Ings replacing the suspended Philippe Coutinho (Henderson and Lallana still out with injury) while on the other end, Marouane Fellaini was named up front instead of Wayne Rooney who missed the game as precautionary measure ahead of the their Champions League group stage match against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
The first half of the game was lackluster, with neither side having a single shot on goal. The possession was largely dominated by the home side and Liverpool were susceptible at the back. Benteke could do very little in the striker position with no one there to support or feed off him.
Into the second half, Ashley Young replaced Memphis Depay to try and liven up things. And shortly after coming on, he won a free-kick at the edge of penalty box after being fouled by Clyne (who was booked as well). Daley Blind sidefooted the ball into the goal net from the low free-kick, giving home side the lead at the 49th minute mark.
Liverpool tried pushing United back a little with what was the first shot at goal in 54 minutes when Ings controlled the ball inside the penalty box and took a shot, as he was lost his balance, which bounced awkwardly but was saved by De Gea. That marked the end of what little spell the away side had in control of the ball. Much like the recent few games, we were far too careless by giving the possession away and at the same time not making the most of it when actually on it.
Firmino offered very little in the game and was replaced by Jordan Ibe moments after somehow not managing to put the ball into the net after a goal-line clearance off of Skrtel’s attempted header. That aside, United remained in control of the game and could afford to offer Anthony Marshals who came on to replace Mata. Shortly after that, Ander Herrera was brought down by Joe Gomez, giving away a penalty and the opportunity to double the lead; and that’s exactly what Herrera did from the resulting spot kick.
Divock Origi was given his competitive debut for Liverpool when he was substituted in for Danny Ings, but that really wasn’t a move which was meant to turn things around with the home side sitting comfortably 2-0 ahead and still controlling majority of the ball play.
WIth 6 minutes remaining on the clock, Benteke pulled one back with a magnificent bicycle kick as De Gea could do nothing to stop that from going in. Although we clearly didn’t do much to deserve a single point here, much less win, that goal gave the players little bit of hope. However, it didn’t last for long as owing to shambles in our defence with Skrtel the main culprit on this occasion, Marshals restored United’s two goal lead by slotting the ball past the helpless keeper.
The positioning was terrible to start off the game with Ings and Origi (who came on later) were put on the wings while Benteke remained all on his own up front, Milner not allowed to go much forward and Firmino missing in action the game was, much like the season and recent performances under Brendan Rodgers, was in complete disarray.
More people join in to call for Rodgers’ head and with performances like this, it is you can’t argue with that. There needs to be an assessment of how the season is headed so far and contingencies need to placed – someone has to take the accountability because this much more than coincidences and bad luck. Bordeaux in mid-week would probably be a good springboard 4 consecutive home games follow it before heading into the Merseyside Derby.