Two colossal features of English football in contrasting forms clash for different end-of-season goals as Manchester United travel to Anfield for what is set to be a cracking tie. Liverpool fans grow more optimistic about a possible quadruple this season. While the boys from the red side of Manchester have suffered an incredibly underwhelming season, they will have a say in who wins the premier league title this season.
With Manchester City not in action again until Wednesday, Liverpool could dethrone the league leaders for at least 24 hours with victory in front of their supporters. The Reds are on an outrageous eight-game winning run in all competitions and would be looking to extend that run as they take on United.
Ralf Ragnick saw his side leapfrog Arsenal into fifth place in the Premier League table after Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 60th career hat trick to help his side overcome a dogged Norwich team. The win represents just a second win from eight games in all competitions. Manchester United have not kept a League clean sheet on the road since December, losing two in a row to Manchester City and Everton.
The Red Devils need no reminder of the 5-0 clattering dished upon them by Liverpool back in October. While revenge will be on their minds, Anfield has been a death trap for United since Juergen Klopp took over. Manchester United have failed to register a win at Anfield in any competition since 2016 and have scored just one goal on rival turf in their last six meetings.
The Reds controlled early proceedings and favored a patient approach as they probed for an early goal. The opening came ten minutes into the game when Sadio Mane released Mohamed Salah on the flank. The Egyptian squared for Luis Diaz to tap home from close range.
Paul Pogba was added to an already long list of injuries and absentees for United when he pulled up with an early injury and was replaced by Jesse Lingard in a not so like-for-like change
After conceding, United did not come out of their shell, and it remained all Liverpool. It did not take long for the Reds to strike again. After a series of crisp and sublime passes, Mane picked out Salah with a sumptuous curl of a one-touch pass. Salah was all too grateful, controlling the ball with a peach of a first touch and slotted past David De Gea with relative ease.
Thiago single-handedly oversaw the affairs of the midfield and was absolutely unplayable. Fabinho dragged his low shot into the box, Salah squeezed in a touch before Diaz poked home, but he was immediately flagged offside.
Liverpool were scintillating and dominated the ball uncontested in all areas of the pitch. For Ralf Ragnick, the gap between both teams was frightening as United could not get close. The Devils finished the half with just one touch in the opposition’s 18-yard area and no shots on target.
Eyebrows were raised when Manchester United released their lineup. Rangnick opted for a back five instead of their traditional back four. That decision backfired as they went in 2-0 down at HT. Whether it was the German recognizing his mistake or Phil Jones having a knock, Rangnick switched to a back four at the start of the second 45 minutes when Jadon Sancho was introduced in place of the Englishman.
United barely completed a pass in the first half. With the change in structure, they looked more secure in possession. Sancho came in looking to affect the game, but his first effort at goal was a tame one, easy for Alisson to gather.
Sancho was a breath of fresh air for United fans as his introduction saw a more potent attack from the devils. The Englishman went on a mazy run, darting into the heart of Liverpool’s defense unchallenged before slipping in Marcus Rashford, who could not get past Alisson. He was flagged offside, but the decision would be up for debate should Rashford have poked that home.
The game was even in terms of general play until Elanga was caught on the ball by Robertson. The Scot dashed forward at pace spearheading a dangerous Liverpool counter. He found Diaz, who squared for Mane to guide it out of DDG’s reach and into the bottom corner.
Game, set, match. Mane’s goal effectively ended the tie, if there ever was one. For Liverpool it became a case of game control, for United, damage control. Thiago was replaced with a standing ovation by Naby Keita. The Spaniard bedazzled Anfield with his ball-playing prowess.
Marcus Rashford found himself in space and dragged his shot wide. Some United fans decided they had seen enough of their team’s embarrassing display and headed for the exits with ten minutes to play.
Hannibal Mejbri was introduced in place of Anthony Elanga for his United debut. Quite the precarious situation to throw in a teenager. Robertson pounced on his naivety and stole the ball, and in a flash, Diogo Jota played in Mo Salah, who chipped over DDG to net his second on the night and Liverpool’s fourth.
A contest no more, it was nothing short of utter humiliation, and you have to feel sorry for the fans who made the trip to Anfield to watch an absolute stinker of a performance from the devils. An aura of frustration polluted the air, and several fouls marred what was remaining in the game.
Liverpool have done the double over Manchester United this season in what was a scintillating display from the Reds. The devils were humbled and Liverpool’s quadruple dream survives another week. They end the day at the top of the league for the first time since October, moving two points ahead of Manchester City, who have 24 hours to respond. The Citizens take on Brighton at the Etihad on Wednesday night.