There was nothing to separate Liverpool and Manchester United. Alisson Becker came up big for the home side in a 0-0 draw at Anfield that keeps Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United top of the league, clear of Liverpool by three points.

Manchester United are feared

Maybe it’s a bit obvious to say, but Liverpool were concerned by this United side. No better evidence of that was shown then their leaving of a couple of men back at their 94th-minute free-kick. United’s counter-attack is a fearsome prospect.

It covers a wider point. United are the league leader’s and they are being treated like that, not like a team who are here for the short-term. That will start to affect United’s mentality, too. Treated like a great side, they’ll believe in themselves more.

Manchester United need a defensive midfielder

As of the 80th minute, Fred was dribbled past eight times. He dived in time after time and let Liverpool break free on the attack. It showed his poor decision-making.

United would be a different team with a quality defensive midfielder, a player who could hold in front of the defence, release United on the counter-attack and play well under pressure. A quicker Matic. We’ve all known for that for a while. Sunday was simply another reminder.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Bruno Fernandes looks tired

It was against a good Liverpool team who were obviously keen to nullify Fernandes’ impact. They did so. Not only through their own quality but Fernandes’ own low-quality performance.

 

You rarely see Fernandes hooked early. Mason Greenwood replaced him with five minutes remaining. It was the right decision from Solskjaer. Fernandes had not been good enough. He gave away the ball too easily, missed passes you expect him to make and constantly tried the hardest pass. When you’re not having a great game, take things back to basics. Fernandes didn’t do that and kept messing up. He’ll be back to his best soon but another couple of games out of the squad to give him a proper rest would. begood.

Solskjaer goes early to try and change the game

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manager of Manchester United speaks with Edinson Cavani of Manchester United before entering the pitch as a substitute during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 17, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Edinson Cavani replaced Martial early on. Solskjaer showed his intent with that. He provided a good outlet for United. The Uruguayan is such a good option to have. Solskjaer changing things early is good to see, too. He can be defensive when asked about why he takes so long to make substitutions. He insists it’s not true. This was evidence that backs him up. It was the right change at the right time.

United missed a good opportunity of a win at Anfield

Though Liverpool dominated the first 30 minutes, United came into the game. Some deeper analysis will be required over the next couple of days, without the intense pressure and tenseness that these games cause. When that analysis comes, it needs to focus on if United’s game plan was the right one and then if the execution of it was good enough. The latter answer will be no. The first? We’ll see.

It was a typical Solskjaer display. Contain and counter-attack. They contained and they counter-attacked but they were denied by Alisson, poor touches, early passes and late passes. Rashford, Pogba and Fernandes all could have scored. Pogba certainly should have done.

A good defensive performance. That will be the takeaway for Solskjaer.

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