Liverpool’s perfect start to the 2019-20 Premier League season was brought to a halt on Sunday by arch-rivals Manchester United, as they played out a 1-1 draw.
Marcus Rashford handed Manchester United the lead at Old Trafford in controversial circumstances in the 37th minute as referee Martin Atkinson dismissed a potential foul on Divock Origi in the build-up – a call that was upheld by VAR, leaving Liverpool furious.
The Reds seemed to have struck back soon after, but Sadio Mane’s goal was rightly ruled out by VAR for handball. With five minutes left in the game, it looked like Jurgen Klopp’s men were heading for their first defeat of the season. But, substitute Adam Lallana pulled the goal back, tapping home from close range at the back post to save a point.
Liverpool will not be pleased with the performance and the result, but they have a six-point lead on second-placed Manchester City. And here’s how we rated the performances of Klopp’s players at Old Trafford.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
The Brazilian shot-stopper made his much-awaited return from injury, starting for the first time after the opening day of the season. There wasn’t much he could have done to keep Rashford’s strike out, but he was largely untested before and after that. Looked composed on the ball and distributed efficiently from the back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
Manchester United’s tactics of pushing their wing-backs high up meant the England international was shackled in terms of his forward thrust, which in turn prohibited him from delivering any telling crosses into the box. Was asked a few questions defensively and was guilty of losing the ball on more occasions than any player on the field.
Joel Matip: 5/10
Back from injury, the Cameroonian found himself in a couple of sticky situations going up against the pacy duo of Rashford and Daniel James. Made a good block on Andreas Pereira’s effort, but was beaten all ends up by Rashford’s movement leading to the opener. Did not look convincing after the break either when United countered on rare occasions.
Virgil van Dijk: 6/10
Liverpool’s defensive wall was given a tough time by the Manchester United forwards early in the game, with one occasion when Rashford left him trailing in the first half standing out. But, van Dijk improved with time and was a dominant force in the air, although he could have been a bit more adventurous with his passing.
Andrew Robertson: 6.5/10
Like his fellow full-back Alexander-Arnold, Robertson too was contained to an extent due to Manchester United’s tactics. Made a crucial interception to deny the hosts a scoring chance in the first period, but United’s goal came from his flank. Drove up the field much more after the break and set up the equaliser for Lallana with a fine cross.
Jordan Henderson: 4/10
•Hauled off when drawing vs Sheffield Utd
•Hauled off when drawing vs Salzburg
•Dropped vs Leicester
•Hauled off when losing vs Man United
Played better without him on each occasion
We’re ending the days of Jordan Henderson as a starter & every LFC fan should be delighted
— Raj Chohan (@rajsinghchohan) October 20, 2019
The Liverpool captain struggled to make any sort of impact at Old Trafford, as he was passive in his distribution more often than not when Liverpool needed someone to unlock a stubborn United defence. Shifted to the right flank after the break with a change in system, but failed to make any inroads from there either and was taken off for Lallana.
One of the rare occasions when the Brazilian failed to impose himself on the proceedings. Was kept busy by a lively Andreas Pereira, which stopped him from setting the tempo and stamping his authority like he usually does. Booked for a rough foul on James in the second period.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
The most energetic of the Liverpool midfielders, Wijnaldum made a sharp dribbling run early in the game, but failed to make it count as his shot was saved easily by David de Gea. Worked hard in the first half, but wasn’t involved a great deal after the break and was sacrificed for Naby Keita.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
Starting on the right flank at Old Trafford, the Senegalese speedster wasn’t quite at his best on the evening, but did very well to create an opportunity for Roberto Firmino who failed to convert. Beat Victor Lindelof with ease and put the ball into the net, only to see the goal get ruled out for handball. Caused Manchester United problems, but was well below his best.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Another Liverpool player who was well below his best, Firmino blazed a wild shot into the crowd early on before firing a tame effort at de Gea after Mane had created a brilliant opportunity for him. Dropped into the No.10 role after the change in system in the second half, but failed to make much of an impact.
Divock Origi: 5/10
Handed a start due to Mohamed Salah’s injury-enforced absence, the Belgian asked a few questions of Lindelof due to his pace early on. Faded soon after though and failed to impact things after being moved to a central role either. First one to be taken off as Klopp looked for a way back into the game.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
Replaced Origi a little before the hour-mark. Looked sharp and added a sense of urgency to Liverpool’s play. Almost clinched a win with a late effort that went narrowly wide.
Adam Lallana: 7/10
Came on for captain Henderson in the 70th minute. Was at the right place at the right time to tap home Robertson’s cross and level things up. First goal for Lallana since 2017 and he couldn’t have picked a better time to end the drought.
Naby Keita: 7/10
Came on for Wijnaldum for the last ten minutes or so and made an immediate difference on the field, as he started to pick apart the Manchester United defence with some incisive passing. Started the move leading to the equaliser.