ERRRRRYYYBODY is dropping points this weekend.
Manchester City bottled against Crystal Palace, conceding an OG in the 90th minute for a home draw. Chelsea lost. Spurs drew. Arsenal drew. Leicester lost. Only Wolves showed some intestinal fortitude and clawed their way out of a 2 goal hole to win 3-2.
Now, Liverpool host the only team to take points from them all season: Manchester United.
Credit to Ole Gunnar Solskjær. When these two squads first met in October after the international break, OGS deployed tactics to shut down Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. It mostly worked. Today, Solskjær deploys Brandon Williams at fullback and Luke Shaw ahead of him. Without Marcus Rashford, OGS sets a line-up designed essentially for a draw. He’s trying to limit attacks down one flank (TAA – Salah side) with Shaw in a more advanced, yet defensive, role.
Will it work? Probably not. But hey, it’s worth a shot. Forget about counters, try to score on a set piece or keep it 0-0. 🤷♀️
So weird game. Both teams super scrappy. Will give OGS this: games vs Liverpool seem to matter more to him. He has his side fired up. Liverpool dominated and should’ve been up 6-0 after 55 minutes but just couldn’t finish. A VERY nervy final 15 minutes was all for naught though as Alisson found Mo Salah in stoppage. Liverpool win 2-0. Credit to Man U for playing a spirited match and never giving up.
The lads are now up 16 on Manchester City with a game in hand. Premier League = ours.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Jurgen Klopp (6) –
Klopp rolls out his “A” line-up given fitness, etc. Gives Ox another start. Oddly, has the lads on their back-foot to start the match. Not attacking like we usually do at Anfield. That changes after about 15 minutes as Liverpool start pressing the eff out of United.
His late subs are to preserve the lead. He keeps a 4-3-3, moving Salah centrally and moving Gini to Salah’s RW spot. The midfield of Lallana – Fabinho – Henderson to see game off is almost too defensive. United really control the midfield at this point.
Theeeeennnnnn…switches to a 4-4-2 (haven’t seen much of that) to settle things down. And Salah scores a determined goal to close it out and that’s that.
Alisson (7.5) –
He’s been a clean sheet machine since coming back from injury. Never really challenged despite all of the pressure. Then sends a PERFECT feed to Salah in stoppage to tally an assist and finish the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (7) –
Don’t expect TAA to be stifled this match like he was in October. Good set piece service in 9th minute, finding Mane’s head (the shot went wide). Then delivers a laser perfect corner to VVD for the opener. Finds VVD on a free kick 5 minutes later for what was almost a second goal. Some solid second half defending.
Virgil van Dijk (8.5) –
Well positioned to clear a dangerous cross in the 5th minute. Then uses his big noggin to head in the opener of a TAA corner. Always helps when you’re 6’4 and defended by someone who is 5’6. Monster in the middle when United were pouring it on in the end.
Joe Gomez (7) – A quietly solid game. One of those where he went unnoticed but that was a good thing, if that makes sense.
Andy Robertson (6) –
Wonderful, clean slide tackle to shut Daniel James down in the 10th. However, passes not finding their mark often. Somewhat uninvolved for him.
Jordan Henderson (7) –
Gets the start again despite Fabinho being fit to play. Strong and scrappy defensively. Wins 3 first half tackles. Willing to challenge everyone. Another strong showing.
Gini Wijnaldum (8) –
Very active first half. Solid defensively. Scores but ruled off-sides. Definitely a “good Gini” game. He’s everywhere. Impossible to move off the ball.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (7) –
Lots of good turns and attacking moments in first half. Called off in the 66th for Adam Lallana. Not sure why. He won 5 tackles (attempted 7, most by anyone). Delivered 4 crosses. Got 2 shots off. Was active. Maybe has a knock.
Mohamed Salah (7.5) –
Lots of effort, particularly tracking back defensively, in the first half but little to show. Keeps the pressure up in the second half, getting off shots but no end product. All the hard work pays off in the end as Salah ices it in stoppage with a brilliant goal.
Sadio Mane (6.5) –
Wasteful in the 24th minute, should’ve finished feet away from the goal. Denied a solid attempt by de Gea in the 45th minute. Second verse same as the first in the second half. Misses good opportunities in the 48th and 63rd minutes. Gorgeous flick to Bobby in the 76th but no end product. Subbed off for defensive support.
Roberto Firmino (6.5) –
Had a beauty of a finish disallowed by VAR due to interference in the build up by VVD on David de Gea. Doing Bobby things, particularly strong dribbling today. Comes off for Origi. Deserved a goal.
Adam Lallana (6) – On for Ox in the 66th. Doesn’t make much of an impact.
Divock Origi (NR) – On for Bobby. Some energy but nothing of note.
Fabinho (NR) – Welcome back! Comes on for Mane to see the game off defensively.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Virgil van Dijk was a monster offensively and defensively.