It is not the end of the world, so get off the ledge
In our preview podcast, I spoke about how a draw would not be a good result and I still think that. I also spoke about how it would not be a bad result and still think that as well. Manchester United was there for the taking especially with the rash of injuries and how they played with 10.5 men with Rashford in obvious pain entire second half. This was still a tough away game at Old Trafford against a quality team. Regardless of injuries, when you look across the field, they had players like Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Lukaku, Rashford… players perhaps not in their top form but dangerous never the less. The Reds were behind due to goal advantage with a game in hand and took a point to go back on top. 11 games to go and the Reds are on top of the league. Any Liverpool fan would have taken that deal if it was on the table in the beginning of the season.
It is easy to play the “should have could have” game but that can be played in a variety of ways… what if Mahrez did not miss the penalty? What if Pickford was not an idiot? At the end of the day, we live by the results and so far ours have been better than anyone else in the Premier League which puts us on top. It is true that we have lost several points in recent games but City had a similar run that resulted in point losses. Every team will have bad runs and loss of points throughout the season, which is why it is called a marathon and not a sprint. So far, we have lost the least points, if we can say the same in eleven weeks, we get the title we have been longing for.
This was the correct starting eleven
Aside from Trent not starting which we all can assume was due to an injury situation and not a tactical choice, this was the correct lineup to go against the Manchester midfield. A solid trio in the middle was able to control the midfield physically which is not the easiest task against a Manchester United midfield. Even though most fans would have preferred to see Keita or Shaqiri starting instead of Henderson or Fabinho, the risk of losing the midfield with lack of aggression and physicality was too high for Klopp and I do agree with him. Against a lot of firepower in the United lineup, we finished with a clean sheet with very few chances given away by the defense.
Klopp counted on the front three to be able to create opportunities with help from the wings via Robertson and Milner but the poor performance by our attacking players resulted in the stalemate.
One other thing was the number of unnecessary fouls given away especially by Fabinho. Aggression is great but he has to control his tackles. The only time United was able to create danger was through set pieces and Fabinho kept gifting them through simple fouls that could be easily avoided. His physicality in the center of the field is a great asset to this team but he has to avoid those situations especially when they can be avoided.
Front three might have had their worst game
The injury to Firmino with only 30 minutes to the game does not help the cause as he is the player that makes the front three click together but in all honesty, we did not see much from the front three in the beginning of the game either. Mane seemed to want it more but had some very poor passes and Salah was never able to create enough space to be effective. He was clearly not following the gameplan at times or what was discussed as Klopp was losing it on the sidelines with the poor decisions made up front.
Give United credit. They were able to stay narrow and not let any runs behind. It was a great team effort on their part as well where a player like Lukaku was disciplined defensively and did not let Robertson get behind him. Perhaps this was the most disappointing part for the Reds, not being able to take better advantage of players like Sanchez and Lukaku playing help defense by not getting them out of position to capitalize by overloading the wings.
The defense shows up and Alisson is quality
Lost in the lack of attacking efficiency was the solid performance of the defense and midfield. Manchester United did not pose a huge threat in terms of dominating the game but the defense was alert, cutting off a lot of the buildup passes through Matip and VVD. Matip was effective once again and I think has proven his value over the last few weeks as a quality CB option for the squad. Milner did well as a makeshift RB and Robertson was his usual self and even though his lack of concentration almost caused a goal by Lingard, Alisson was there to save the day. Alisson is poor quality and has been a great signing for this team. The quickness he showed in coming off his line in that situation and the perfect move saved a goal again for sure. He did not have much to do throughout the game but it is these moments where goalies on big teams show their worth. Being able to make crucial saves even though you may not be very involved in the game due to your team’s dominance… Alisson is showing why he deserved the price tag. I spoke last week about his occasional decision making that has to improve over time but I think the Reds seem to have solved their goalie issue for years to come
The recent form of the team might not give a lot of encouragement but this is the same team that brought us here. Fans randomly sniping at players and Klopp have to realize that. I am all for criticizing when it is warranted. I do not think pointing out a mistake is being a plastic fan. It is OK to complain but you have to have an alternate solution. Otherwise, it just becomes bitching. If you are going to trash the team after every poor or average result, you should stay in when we win and not come out and celebrate. If you are going to point out specifics where or who could have done better, go ahead and listen to your point… Agree to it or debate it… If you are going to call the team trash, Klopp trash, an entire team performance just ‘shit’, you do not deserve this team and the fight it gives on the field. Lack of goals or a result is not always lack of effort and is not always shit.
We are still on top of the league and perhaps just got our toughest away game out of the way ( toss up between this game and the derby) . This team is capable of switching it on and performing well obviously otherwise we would not be on top. We have players like Gomez and Ox coming back to add more defensive and attacking weapons. So just freaking relax and get behind the team for the next game.