Manchester United received another jolt in a season of setbacks as Liverpool beat them for the first time in the Premier League since 2014 on Sunday.
Manchester United were ready to play the waiting game, sitting back in a defensive system and looking to hit the hosts on the counter. But, their plan did not really work as Liverpool took aim at goal every few minutes while winning the ball back quickly. One such positive moment saw them grab the lead as Sadio Mane beat Ashley Young before opening the scoring for the Reds.
Indeed, the visitors only created one chance of note in the first half, which resulted in Jesse Lingard’s goal, who showed good opportunism to pounce on Alisson Becker’s erroneous spill. In the second half, Manchester United were completely outplayed by Liverpool, who ended the game with 36 shots.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 16, 2018
Two of these shots came off the boots of Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored twice in a seven-minute span to hand Liverpool a 3-1 win, although Manchester United and David de Gea would rue their luck, with the strikes being deflected off Young and Eric Bailly.
In the end, Manchester United lost for the fifth time on Sunday, falling 19 points short of Liverpool, who jumped to the top of the table. As the pressure continues growing on Jose Mourinho, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over his men, following their second successive loss.
David de Gea: 7/10
Perhaps the only bright spot for Manchester United on the night, de Gea kept the score at a respectable level. In all, the Spaniard made eight saves, although only two of those were out from the top drawer, as he denied Roberto Firmino on both occasions. Couldn’t have done anything for the two goals, with his defence leaving him high and dry.
Matteo Darmian: 5.5/10
Darmian started the match in the back-three and was surprisingly a solid customer for the most part, dealing with Naby Keita rather effectively. Moved into the right-back slot upon Dalot’s substitution, which is when things became tough for him, as Andrew Robertson gave him a hard time in the second half.
Eric Bailly: 5.5/10
Bailly was picked in the eleventh hour, with Chris Smalling pulling out after sustaining an injury during training. And, the Ivorian was solid for the most part, making a number of successful tackles while also putting his body on the line to deny the Liverpool attackers. Pulled out of position several times, though, which he needs to address.
Victor Lindelof: 5/10
Back into the side earlier than scheduled, Lindelof had a few hairy moments when he was caught out of position by Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane. The Swede was uncharacteristically nervy on the ball as well, and it was quite clear that he had to be rushed back due to the injury crisis on Mourinho’s hands, and he was off pace as a result.
Diogo Dalot: 5.5/10
Diogo Dalot was 1 of only 2 Man Utd players to create a chance in the first half vs. Liverpool.
Interesting substitution. 🔄 pic.twitter.com/2AGokFJcjw
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 16, 2018
Another player who was a doubt ahead of the game, Dalot started as the right wing-back. The young defender was rarely tested at the back, with Liverpool concentrating most of their attacks on the opposite flank. Was one of only two Manchester United players to create a chance in the first half, but was inexplicably taken off at the interval.
Ander Herrera: 4/10
Herrera has largely been a reliable customer for Manchester United this season. But, just like at Manchester City last month, Liverpool found him out with their pressing – a paltry pass accuracy of 66.7 percent is indicative of that. Failed to provide ample cover to the backline, putting them under undue pressure.
Nemanja Matic: 4/10
More reactive than proactive, which led to Manchester United’s downfall. Chief reason why Liverpool enjoyed acres of space in the middle of the park, even though he covered the ground well at times. Long standing problem of being excruciatingly slow on the ball remains.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
Jesse Lingard's last 3 Premier League goals:
⚽ vs. Chelsea
⚽ vs. Arsenal
⚽ vs. Liverpool
Big game player. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/hK2bpTB9nl
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 16, 2018
Was in the right place at the right time, as he pounced on a mistake by Alisson, which was his first touch in the Liverpool box. Apart from that moment though, Lingard was largely anonymous as the game seemed to pass him by at times.
Ashley Young: 5/10
A game of highs and lows for Ashley Young. The veteran Englishman showed a lot of desire and urgency to close down the Liverpool attackers at times. But, his deficiencies at the back were brutally exposed on a number of occasions, particularly when Mane ghosted past him to open the scoring for the hosts.
Marcus Rashford: 5.5/10
Rashford has been the in-form player for Manchester United, but it wasn’t to be for him on Sunday. The English international tried the hardest to make a difference, running himself into the ground. Helpless in the face of Liverpool’s relentless pressing, Rashford was often left without a teammate to find in the opposition half.
Romelu Lukaku: 4.5/10
A frustrating outing for Lukaku, whose poor form continued on Sunday. As is often the case in a big game, the Belgian found himself isolated, and his poor hold-up play meant he could never bring himself into the game. The stats paint a damning picture as well – Lukaku lost possession eight times and had just 20 touches on the evening.
Marouane Fellaini: 5/10
Fellaini was perhaps brought on to disrupt the Liverpool momentum in midfield. But, the hosts overran him in midfield quite easily at times. The Belgian did show a lot of desire in his first 15 minutes on the pitch, but found himself being outplayed everytime he got near the ball.
Anthony Martial: N/A
Brought on with just 11 minutes to go, Martial did not have time to settle down and make a difference for the visitors.
Juan Mata: N/A
Introduced with just 5 minutes to go, Mata had no time to make an impact.