Liverpool need to rediscover their killer instincts as scoreless race continues against Man Utd
Heading into their game against Manchester United, most of Liverpool’s pre-match analysis has focused on their lack of defensive options.
The story goes that pairing Fabinho and Jordan Henderson at center-back would be a disaster, especially with a reborn Paul Pogba and irrepressible Bruno Fernandes to face. However, by the time the final whistle went to Anfield, it wasn’t Liverpool’s makeshift defenders making the headlines.
Against United, Henderson and Fabinho were extremely strong. Although not under much pressure, they reacted when they were put into action with all the calm of professionals who have rubbed shoulders for years.
So if their defense wasn’t put under the microscope full time, who was? Well, almost unbelievable, it was the once invincible trio of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino that was scrutinized.
The three-headed dragon and Liverpool striker has been one of, if not the best forward line in Europe for three years. The goals, assists and general good vibes they’ve brought to Merseyside in recent seasons are legendary, but so far not all is well.
The 0-0 draw against United on Sunday means the Reds haven’t scored in any of their last three Premier League games with Mane’s strike in a 1-1 draw with West Brom the last time Liverpool have toasted a league strike.
The scoreless run is made more worrisome by the amount of possession the Reds have enjoyed during this frustrating time – they average over 70% and have returned only one goal – and in no game did their lack of a tip. has only been more frustrating than their most recent. exit against their old rivals.
The Reds’ dominance in the first half was quite surprising. Xherdan Shaqiri, Thiago Alcantara and Georginio Wijnaldum combined perfectly with the two full-backs to cross the United midfield with ease. At times the United duo – Bruno Fernandes did next to nothing to help – have been left to chase the shadows, with Scott McTominay in particular struggling to assert themselves.
Thiago did a great job directing the series in his very first appearance at Anfield, looking over even the incredible Fernandes and Pogba from the start. Despite that, the Reds never really seemed to score.
As the ball entered the final third, their approach play seemed to be going at double speed and this frenzied build-up led to several basic passing errors. Salah and Wijnaldum were the main offenders, indulging in ten times in the first 45 minutes.
There were also countless, albeit less measurable, moments of poor decision making. Roberto Firmino committed the worst of these, failing to drag Andy Robertson for what would have been an almost certain shot on goal.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s decision making was also poor. The right-back looked uncomfortable, neglecting to face Luke Shaw enthusiastically, instead playing it safe with hopeful crosses.
This offensive display without mojo was not stopped after the break. In fact, it got worse. Neither Salah nor Mane, Liverpool’s prison release cards in the past, could muster a moment of magic. In the end, United comfortably created the best chances, although they were beaten early on.
By the end of the game, the stats gave rise to a grim reading. Only one of Firmino’s five shots hit the target, while none of Salah’s three attempts forced David de Gea to stop.
The result maintains United’s three-point lead over Liverpool and Manchester City could overtake them if they manage to beat Crystal Palace. The top three of the Reds need to regain their form quickly to prevent this scoreless race from turning into an albatross around its neck in the title race.