*Bumper* Post-Match Analysis: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool

*Bumper* Post-Match Analysis: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
August 22, 2022 Andrew Beasley

 

Paul Tomkins, Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes, Chris Rowland and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts on the match for 24 hours after the game, and there’s post-match statistics and videos too.

Post-Match Thoughts

Paul Tomkins

Strange game, in that Liverpool, minus nine or ten senior players (including a half-fit Fabinho), started slowly, were deservedly behind, and then battled to get close to a draw without any great pace or height in the attack.

It feels like Jürgen Klopp has to get this team to the international break, then get the best injured and suspended players back. (More on the midfield and the need for additions later.)

The fact that United did some hard running led to Gary Neville talking about them as if they were peak Barcelona, but a spirited backlash was always likely, especially after dumping the deadweights (and tactical dead-ends) Ronaldo and Maguire, and being at home. They were up for it, and worked hard. I don’t know why he was so shocked, as they could do this occasionally before Ronaldo returned.

They rode their luck, and just about held on against a Liverpool squad missing almost half its senior players. United were at home, after all. All the stats suggest a draw would have been fair, but the narrative on Sky was set early on, by United simply being “up for it”.

Equally, Liverpool need to start games better, no matter who is in the team. There seems like an aim to exert calm control, and instead they’re getting overrun – at least in the two away games so far. (At home to Palace, the start was fast but the chances weren’t taken.)

The midfield tonight was poorly balanced, but with Fabinho not 100%, Keïta missing (again) and the imperious Thiago out for a while, it was workmanlike, with the youthful zest of Harvey Elliott a plus – but none of the midfield has pace or could go beyond (James Milner tried, but he’s nearly 37).

With Roberto Firmino dropping into the midfield to link play, it made for a totally “to feet” team; and with so many absentees there was almost nothing on the bench (albeit with Fabio Carvalho putting in another excellent cameo, and his brightness led to chances and the Mo Salah goal; but he’s young, and he’s still settling in).

Liverpool were too slow, too small, too unremarkable in midfield, due to injuries, suspensions and mysterious absences. In the spine of the team, they were perhaps too old: 31, 32, 36 and 31 in four of the six central positions (and Salah, 30, on one wing), with a younger player, Joe Gomez, clearly rusty. It doesn’t feel like a classic Klopp team with so many older players, albeit again, several younger ones with electric pace and directness (Darwin Núñez, Ibrahima Konaté, and Diogo Jota) were all missing; and while older, Thiago can run a game without needing to run as much as a youngster.

United’s team of tiny defenders were never going to be tested by a tallest attacker of 5’11” (and no tall midfielders arriving late), and the Reds’ corners were generally terrible – apart from the one that led to a goal via a second phase. United will press well with these tiny, tenacious players, but other teams (or the best Liverpool XI) will put them under much more physical pressure.

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