Lisandro Martinez was colossal, while Mohamed Salah was the only positive for the visitors as Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 on Monday.
Manchester United unveiled Casemiro to the Old Trafford crowd ahead of the game, and the crowd subsequently pushed the team to show the passion that has been missing for months. The hosts took the game to Liverpool, who got caught by surprise by the intensity that Erik ten Hag’s charges showed from the get-go.
While the Red Devils were happy to let Liverpool keep the ball, for the most part, they were efficient and effective while embarking on counter-attacks. And Manchester United should have taken an early lead when Anthony Elanga was clear on goal on the edge of the box, only to smash the upright with his curling effort.
But Manchester United grabbed a deserved lead when they produced a slick move, as Elanga found Jadon Sancho, who showed tremendous composure to dummy James Milner before finding the back of the net. Manchester United then continued to defend by putting numbers behind the ball and were fortunate to get away when Lisandro Martinez cleared the ball from going into the net for a Bruno Fernandes own goal.
Manchester United continued to press aggressively to find counter-attacking opportunities. And one such instance presented itself when Anthony Martial snatched the ball before releasing Marcus Rashford, who beat Alisson Becker on his near post. Liverpool continued to see more of the ball after that but lacked the killer instinct to trouble David de Gea apart from the odd save.
Manchester United covered more distance (114km) & made 51 more sprints than Liverpool this evening.
Erik Ten Hag’s Running Reds. pic.twitter.com/9nvl8t0rOA
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 22, 2022
But Mohamed Salah made things interesting when he showed superb awareness to head the ball past de Gea after the Manchester United goalkeeper had saved an initial shot from Fabio Carvalho. However, that was as good as it got for Liverpool, as Manchester United saw the game out smartly to leapfrog the Reds on the table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
David de Gea: 7/10
David de Gea has rightly been under pressure and prompted Manchester United to scour the market for a goalkeeper. But he showed signs of improvement on Monday, coming off his line to keep the ball away from Liverpool while making some trademark saves. He needs to continue doing more of the same to win over his manager.
Diogo Dalot: 8/10
Dalot has rightly received some stick for his poor performances early in the season. But he showed that he can be an asset for Manchester United by keeping Luis Diaz quiet with aplomb. While the Portuguese international had a few nervy moments, he was purposeful in tackling. His passing was not press-resistant, but he still took some positive steps forward.
Raphael Varane: 8/10
Varane made his first start of the season and looked up for the job at hand, forging a solid partnership with Martinez at the heart of the Manchester United defence. He made a game-high eight clearances and won all his aerial duels, negating his partner’s disadvantage well. Harry Maguire might have a hard time regaining his spot in the team.
Martinez & Varane vs. Liverpool:
100% dribbles completed
75% aerial duels won
8 headed clearances
7 ball recoveries
5 tackles won
Monumental partnership. 🇦🇷🤝🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/gpIQ3qDH4w
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 22, 2022
Lisandro Martinez: 9/10
Lisandro Martinez came under fire for his performance against Brentford, with pundits pointing to his build. But the Argentine proved his naysayers wrong brilliantly on Monday as he produced a colossal performance at the heart of the Manchester United defence.
Martinez was unflappable and made several critical interventions, including a goal-line clearance that saved Bruno Fernandes’s blushes. He nearly scored an own goal himself and had de Gea to thank for a reaction stop. But he produced an overall fantastic performance at the back.
Tyrell Malacia: 8/10
Malacia was making his first competitive start for Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag handing him the daunting task of keeping Mohamed Salah quiet. But the Dutchman excelled apart from a few nervy moments and stopped some crosses from going into the box. But his set-piece deliveries need some work.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
McTominay replaced Fred in the starting lineup, and he justified ten Hag’s decision by producing a rock-solid performance in the middle of the park. The Scot won seven duels and made crucial clearances and tackles. And while his output on the ball is still not acceptable yet, this was a step in the right direction.
Christian Eriksen: 7/10
Eriksen was involved heavily in the build-up to the first Manchester United goal, which ended a slick move. The Danish playmaker also came close to scoring with a whipping free-kick. But his output on the ball was somewhat lacklustre, although he was solid defensively and worked well alongside McTominay.
Jadon Sancho: 7/10
The opener 🔥
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 22, 2022
Sancho might still not be in full flow, but he worked his socks off on Monday by putting a shift at both ends of the pitch. The English international showed tremendous composure to dummy James Milner before finding the back of the net for the opener. That was a display that should be the building block to kick-start a fruitful Manchester United stint.
Bruno Fernandes: 8/10
Bruno Fernandes might not have had an eye-catching moment with the ball at his feet apart from a couple of instances. But he produced a performance worthy of the captain’s armband as he put in the hard yards and defended with his heart and soul. He tried to get a cheap penalty, but Michael Oliver had a clear sight of his simulation.
Anthony Elanga: 6/10
Elanga should have celebrated a goal in the game, but he will have to make do with an assist. The Swede set Sancho up smartly instead of going for the goal himself. But his shooting needs to improve as he missed a clear sight at goal with only Alisson Becker to beat. Nonetheless, his directness troubled Trent Alexander-Arnold considerably on Monday.
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
Marcus Rashford was a menace this evening 🥵 pic.twitter.com/hYiKZDDFrZ
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 22, 2022
Rashford had been abysmal in the first two games. And while his output on Monday was not up to the required standard, his counter-pressing and direct running caught Liverpool by surprise, especially in the first half. The English international also scored a confidence-boosting goal in the second half with an impressive finish. That was a performance that should bolster his levels.
Anthony Martial: 8/10
Martial made his first appearance for Manchester United this season and seemed intent on making up for the lost time. The French international did not find himself in scoring positions, but he ran the Liverpool defence ragged with his directness and set Rashford up with a perfectly-weighted pass. He will likely start against Southampton on the weekend.
Despite coming on at HT, Anthony Martial completed 4 dribbles against Liverpool, more than any other player on the pitch.
Martial FC is back. 🔁 pic.twitter.com/4TUiE9Ongr
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 22, 2022
Fred was perhaps the only Manchester United player who failed to make an impression as he was wasteful with his passing. But he was strong in tackling and did well to alleviate the danger for the most part.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: N/A
Wan-Bissaka was a late replacement for Dalot as ten Hag sought fresh legs to combat the trickiness of Diaz and Fabio Carvalho.
Donny van de Beek: N/A
Donny van de Beek helped see the game out after replacing Eriksen late in the proceedings.
Cristiano Ronaldo: N/A
Ronaldo was a late introduction and seemed intent to take something out of the game. But he never got going in the final few minutes.
Erik ten Hag on decisions: “I don't have to mention Maguire, Ronaldo… they will play a role in the future”. 🔴 #MUFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 22, 2022
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Alisson could not have done anything to keep out either Manchester United goal after his defence sold him short. But the Liverpool goalkeeper made a smart stop to keep out a free-kick from Eriksen. However, his distribution continues to be shaky, and he needs to address that.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 4/10
Alexander-Arnold’s form has to be alarming for Jurgen Klopp, considering he cannot fall back on Calvin Ramsay yet. The English international struggled against the trickiness of Elanga and was out of position when Sancho scored Manchester United’s first goal. His deliveries were substandard too, and he desperately needs to kick-start his season.
Joe Gomez: 5/10
Gomez reunited with van Dijk from the onset of a game for the first time in a while, but he endured a frustrating game at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. The Englishman had a few troubles dealing with Rashford and Martial, with the former dribbling past him in the build-up to the second goal from Manchester United. Still, he was the best defender for Liverpool on Monday.
Virgil van Dijk: 4/10
Virgil van Dijk has been abysmal by his lofty standards thus far, and he produced another dreadful performance on Monday. The Dutch defender struggled against the pace with which Manchester United attacked Liverpool, and his effort to block Sancho’s shot was appalling. The improvements in Liverpool’s gameplay need to start with van Dijk.
Virgil van Dijk did not make a successful tackle against Man Utd:
◎ 2 attempted
◎ 1x dribbled past
◎ 1x foul conceded
◉ 0 successful
No wonder James Milner was in his ear. 😬 pic.twitter.com/1ahteZYCtE
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 22, 2022
Andrew Robertson: 5/10
Robertson has been running out of steam in the early stages of the season and desperately needs to step up. The Scot was pinned in the Liverpool half, even though the Reds had 70 per cent of the possession. He does not have the right chemistry with Luis Diaz either, and Kostas Tsimikas might have a few opportunities coming his way.
Harvey Elliott: 6/10
Elliott was one of the better performers for Liverpool, with his liveliness the only source for his team to raise the tempo of the game. But the teenage prodigy lacked the end product and did not trouble the Manchester United defenders with his sub-par output.
Jordan Henderson: 4/10
Henderson occupied the role that Fabinho would have had Klopp not dropped him. But while the Liverpool captain excels as a holding midfielder, he was off colour on Monday, with his passing lacking decisiveness. And Henderson also lost the ball in the build-up to Manchester United’s second strike, with Martial snatching it off him before setting Rashford up.
James Milner: 5/10
Milner was a surprise selection from Klopp, who inexplicably decided to drop Fabinho. While the Brazilian did not turn things around for Liverpool upon his introduction, Milner added nothing to the game either apart from his combativeness. His passing was lacklustre, and his standout moment in the game was giving van Dijk an earful after Manchester United’s first goal.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
Salah was not particularly impressive, with Manchester United finding the formula to keep him quiet for the most part. But the Liverpool talisman showed the creative side of his game by playing a match-high four key passes. And he also gave Liverpool a glimmer of hope with his goal, displaying superb awareness to find the back of the net.
Mo Salah has scored more goals (10) against Man United than any other club in his career 😤 pic.twitter.com/oliSHIdUi5
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 22, 2022
Roberto Firmino: 4/10
Firmino replaced the suspended Darwin Nunez, but he was uninspiring in his performance, even though he saw plenty of the ball. The Manchester United defenders did not fall for his age-old tricks and remained in their positions to defend smartly. The Brazilian also lost possession a few too many times and needs to step up.
Luis Diaz: 5/10
Diaz seemed like the only player capable of making things happen in the first half. But the Colombian international failed to make his mark as Dalot marked him expertly for the most part. His influence faded with time.
Fabinho replaced Henderson at the hour mark. But while he completed nearly all of his attempted passes, he failed to raise the tempo of the game enough to catch Manchester United off guard. The Brazilian international, like most Liverpool players, needs to pull his socks up.
Fabio Carvalho: N/A
Carvalho was a bundle of energy off the bench and showed remarkable close control as Liverpool looked to find a way back into the game. And the former Fulham attacker played his part in Salah’s goal as de Gea saved his shot before the rebound fell to the Liverpool talisman.
Kostas Tsimikas: N/A
Tsimikas replaced Robertson late on, with Klopp looking to use his cross abilities to trouble Manchester United. But the Greek full-back barely saw the ball in his cameo.