Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

Anfield woes return. Manchester United typically play bad against Liverpool at Anfield. Last year, we may have won 2-1 but up until Jonjo Shelvey’s red card, Liverpool were the better side.

Today, we were dominated from the first to the last whistle. We may have had more possession and more touches in Liverpool’s area but we never looked like scoring.

Liverpool made it extremely hard to break through their back line which is testament to their disciplined defensive set-up that has seen them have three clean sheets on the trot but United were toothless going forward.

There was no urgency. There was not much desire. On an away day at Anfield, you’d expect more  from United.

Too reliant on Robin. United had to wait until the 88th minute for Robin van Persie to get a really clear cut chance and because of that, we hardly put Liverpool under any pressure.

Van Persie was in Skrtel’s pocket for the whole game. Their defensive set-up made it almost impossible for him to find space and time on the ball as they closed him down whenever he did. It meant Van Persie couldn’t provide his typical hold up play that brings others into the attack and United found it difficult to create chances.

Javier Hernandez’s introduction changed it for the last 20 minutes and it was his pass that gave Van Persie his chance at the death but it was too little too late.

Ryan Giggs can’t start games anymore. Nobody will question that Giggs is a United legend but it is time that he stops starting games. Whenever he makes a cameo appearance in the last 20 minutes of games, Giggs more often than not makes a big difference but Moyes made a big mistake starting him at Anfield.

In an already pedestrian midfield, Giggs made United even weaker. His passing was off, movement was minimal and he added nothing to the team going forward. By the time Moyes took Giggs off in the 70th minute, it was too late.

Giggs has to take the responsibility to tell Moyes he can’t start games any more. His strength comes from substitute appearances when United need a game changer.

Midfield exposed for the last time (hopefully). That was the poorest performance I remember from Michael Carrick in a long time and alongside Cleverley and Giggs, United’s midfield was very poor once again.

The spaces between the defence and midfield allowed Liverpool in behind and they didn’t offer a bridge for the gaps with our attackers. It made it difficult for United to pass the ball out of the box and Liverpool’s constant pressure stifled our typically strong passing game.

Tomorrow is critical for United this season. The questions about United’s midfield simply have to end with signing(s) for us to be able to challenge for trophies this year.

Moyes faces his first test with the fans. Plenty of fans on Twitter have attacked Moyes’ decisions today. Starting Giggs was no doubt a mistake and Young’s inclusion from the start was questionable but realistically, Liverpool didn’t play that much better than United. They got an early goal and set up to defend it.

Fans need to remember that Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t have a fantastic record against Liverpool and he loved playing Giggs from the start at Anfield too.

Moyes will make mistakes, he is only human, but a win was never expected. It was hoped that he could end his Anfield hoodoo but it wasn’t to be. He now faces the challenge of bouncing back as soon as possible to avoid United falling into a lull.

Image: Twitter/FeintZebra

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