First placed Liverpool faced bitter rivals 5th placed Manchester United at Anfield, the only team to have taken points off Liverpool this season so far. Liverpool proved to be too much for United though this time around and finished the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Van Dijk and Salah.
Star player Marcus Rashford picked up an injury in the midweek game against Wolves in the FA cup which ruled him out for this game and forced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into a formation change after not having Pogba and McTominay available as well.
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Liverpool rose to the occasion and took the lead after 15 minutes with a towering header from Van Dijk. Liverpool had thought they had doubled their lead twice in the next 20 minutes only for both goals to be disallowed, the first for a foul on De Gea and the second was found to be offside. Liverpool would be happy with their efforts at the halftime break with United relieved to only be 1-0 down.
Despite United having a better second half and coming close a couple of times the visitors didn’t have enough to answer the home sides relentless attacks. After a final last ditch corner from United, Allison was able to unleash Salah in the dying seconds of the game to go one-on-one with De Gea and score in front of the Kop to end the game 2-0.
After the first 15 minutes where both teams felt each other out with United surprisingly seeing a bit more of the ball it was suddenly stopped in its tracks when Liverpool on the 15th minute got their corner and Virgil Van Dijk stepped up. In a moment of pure madness young Brandon Williams was suddenly left marking the towering Dutchman who made little work of Williams, by bitching him and beating Maguire to get his head first onto the ball and powered home for the hosts to open their account.
Replays later showed that Maguire was fouled by Gomez in the build up to Van Dijk’s goal where Maguire tried to help Williams beat in Van Dijk in the air. Liverpool kept the pressure up by winning the ball high up and pinging balls into the box.
There was then further madness in the 24th minute when a ball went back into the box and Van Dijk went up to contest with De Gea for the ball with the Liverpool player taking out the United keeper, but Craig Pawson decided to not blow the whistle for a foul, Firmino was able to pick up the scraps and curl one into the far side of the goal where Liverpool had thought they had gone two up. The United players were incensed with the decision and all rushed to protest with De Gea getting right up in the referee’s face which earned him a yellow card. VAR was called in and it was not to be as the VAR ruled that Van Dijk had fouled De Gea in the build up.
This space of refereeing got social media buzzing with many fans asking how Craig Pawson keeps refereeing the big games despite a history of questionable calls in recent matches.
Liverpool had thought they had gone 2-0 up again after Wijnaldum put the ball into the back of the net but the goal was ruled offside. At this point Liverpool were all over United with Fred and Lindelof struggling with picking up their markers and Lindelof gifting possession away with his clearances.
United went close on the 40th minute mark after Wan-Bissaka poked one across goal from close range but Perierra was unable to get anything on it and it went wide for a goal kick. United started winning the 50/50 balls in the last 5 minutes of the half with Perirera striking one cleanly, but only straight at Allison. Allison then started a quick counter which led to Mane going through on goal only for De Gea to stretch out a boot and stop the shot. United finished the half being the stronger of the two side, just, but very lucky and relieved to only be 1-0 down.
The half resumed with no substitutions and Liverpool thought they had finally got their second goal in the 47th minute after Shaw missed the cross into the box and when the ball fell to Salah the whole of Anfield were already celebrating but the Egyptian decided to be a bit useless and shinned the ball agonizingly wide. Liverpool pilled on the pressure and Henderson let off a ferocious shot that De Gea was able to get finger tips on to force it to hit the post and go wide. Lindelof went down injured which triggered Dalot and Jones to start warming up but neither were called upon.
Liverpool continued to pepper the United goal with shots but they still could not find their second. In a rare United attack Anthony Martial then played a beautiful give and go with Perriera in the 57th minute to go through on goal but didn’t take his shot right and fired one over the goal and into the stands. Shortly after Mane again found space in the United box but couldn’t strike the ball like how he would have wanted to and the ball went wide again.
Ole finally decided to change things up in the 74th minute by taking off Perriera and Willams and putting on Greenwood and Mata which caused a change of shape. This caused Liverpool a few problems and United started to get closer to inching towards their first goal of the match.
With less than 10 minutes to go and the Liverpool fans sounding a bit unsure about the game with United taking a bit more of a grasp of the game, Klopp decided to take off Firmino and Mane and send on Origi and Fabino.
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Liverpool survived a series of late attacks from United which ended with a last ditch corner effort from United only for Allison to gather and set Salah on his way as the only Liverpool player in the United half to finally get Liverpool’s second. Final score 2-0.
Liverpool look like the title is finally theres after this game. From this author it is painful to say but Manchester United were completely outplayed today. United definitely missed McTominay and Rashford while Pogba could have also made a difference, but at the end of the day this Liverpool team is streets ahead on any other team in the league. It’s hard to admit it, but it’s true. Liverpool fans will bask in the glory of this win for the rest of the week and United fans will do their best to find rocks to hide under.