Stalemate at Anfield

Liverpool versus Manchester United. This has to be one of the biggest rivalries in modern day soccer. Supporters of either of those clubs cringe even while uttering the name of the rival club.

Liverpool dominated English soccer till the early 1990s until Sir Alex Ferguson turned the tides completely and made Manchester United the dominant force they have been, up until these last three years.

Every game between these two clubs is one that all soccer fans around the globe look forward to. But on Monday night, when the two English powerhouses took on each other for the first time this season, they failed to entertain.

Going into the game, Liverpool was sitting pretty in fourth position with 16 points while Manchester United were not too far behind on 13.

Liverpool were looking for the 3 points but Manchester United, playing away from home at Anfield, made it clear from their lineup that they were there just for the point. A Manchester midfield comprising of Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera was always going to be a challenge for Liverpool. Manchester midfielder Ashley Young replaced Juan Mata and manager Jose Mourinho showed he isn’t afraid of dropping the senior players as Wayne Rooney found himself warming the bench.

For Liverpool, it was a big day for young goalkeeper Loris Karius, who beat Simon Mignolet for the spot between the posts. The game had a slow start with neither team having any clear chances. Manchester forward Marcus Rashford, who’s always a handful for defenders, put in a dangerous ball in minute 25, but Karius got a good hand to it and parried it away, justifying his selection over the experienced Mignolet.

That was the only worthwhile action in the first half and the game looked nowhere to the counter it promised to be.

The second half was better than the first with some decent moves by both teams. Pogba’s skill and cross in minute 54 resulted in a free head for Manchester forward Ibrahimovic, but instead of burying it, he hit it parallel to goal.

Liverpool came into their own a few minutes into the second half and started asking goalkeeper David De Gea the right questions. The only problem? He had all the right answers!

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can tested De Gea with a low shot which De Gea saved brilliantly with a low dive to his right. The save of the day was in minute 71 when Liverpool midfielder Phillipe Coutinho’s shot seemed destined for the top right corner, but De Gea foiled it with a save as he flew and got a right hand to it.

The last good change of the game came for Liverpool when Coutinho played Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino in with a beautiful flick. Before Firmino could pull the trigger, Manchester defender Antonio Valencia came in to save the day with a perfectly timed tackle!

The game ended 0-0 and will probably go down in the history books as one of the most boring games between Liverpool and Manchester United. Mourinho’s team had come with a plan and they executed it quite well. Ander Herrera and Maroune Fellaini were the heroes for United who shut down. The Premier League is shaping up quite well with only 5 points separating the top 7 teams! No team has been able to assert their dominance yet with Manchester City failing to win their last two games. All I hope for is that this year’s league should not turn into a two-horse race as always and up till now, the signs are positive.