Lallana goal rescues point for Liverpool in difficult outing at Old Trafford.
It seemed like a sure win for Liverpool. Almost a mere formality considering the build up to this game.
United, shattered in confidence were experiencing their worst start to a league campaign in 30 years while Liverpool were on a 17-game winning streak which began as far back as March.
Fast forward to the 80th minute, United,against all odds were 10 minutes away from victory.
From a Liverpool point of view, Salah’s absence and Mane’s subsequent shift to the right -in order to accomodate Divock Origi- took some sting out of what is usually a very sharp attack.
The midfield shape also meant very little supply was reaching the front 3 and this limited the league leaders to only one clear chance in the first half that fell to Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian, usually clinical from that position could only hit it straight at David De Gea.
For much of the game, Liverpool were restricted to crosses from deep but the aerial prowess of Harry Maguire meant United were comfortable in that regard.
However, there is a reason why Liverpool have lost just one game in their last 47 and when Klopp switched things up with the introduction of Chamberlain, Keita and Lallana, the reds regained control of the game in search of an equaliser.
Mane was moved more central and playing in a sort of 4-2-4, Liverpool did eventually get the equaliser from an Adam Lallana tap in.
After the game, the German said, “United always set up to defend against Liverpool”. Even though he quickly went on to add that this was not a criticism, it did sound like it, from a position of frustration.
Ole did set up more defensively than usual, playing in a 3-4-1-2, anchoring the defence and putting bodies in midfield as a ploy to destruct Liverpool’s free flowing football.
In attack, United’s plan was to send balls into the channels and force the Liverpool back for into a foot race against the more fancied United attack of Rashford and James.
The two combined perfectly for the United goal in the 40th minute when Rashford intelligently lost Joel Matip to get at the end of an inch perfect James’ cross.
All game, James’ tireless work ethic made him a thorn in the Liverpool defence and even after being knocked out twice, he kept going.
The result did not only take the heat off Ole,but also gave him an indication of maybe the direction to go.
For Liverpool, a draw at United turned out to be two huge points dropped in the title race last season. This time around, they will hope the effect of this would not be as detrimental to their title charge.
In the end, United needed a turnaround and even though they failed to hold on to their lead, the performance and result will calm down a few storms, if not all.
Messi -Griezmann-Suarez the new MSN?
It is no coincidence that Messi’s return to full fitness has pushed Barcelona higher up the La Liga table.
The FIFA Best player of the year was once again amongst the goals but this time, it was the performance of Antoine Griezmann who looked very good linking well with both Messi and Suarez.
With all 3 attackers involved in both the second the third goals, one cannot help but feel a sense of familiarity at what is brewing up in Barcelona.
Well, it looks like there is another record chasing him as CR700 quickly became CR701 with Ronaldo netting Juve’s opener in the 2-1 win against Bologna. He is now 104 goals away from equalling the all time record of 805 career goals by Bob Piscan.
Pick of the week: Black Stars B.
A week on, after losing out on a third consecutive WAFU championship, the Ghana Black Stars B have now failed to qualify for the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
This is Coach Maxwell Konadu’s third failed attempt at qualifying for the tournament. In an ideal world, the most honorable thing to do is to resign but as expected, Coach Konadu still clings onto the job.