Man Utd 2-2 Liverpool: ‘Positives for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but a big chance missed’ – Danny Murphy

Man Utd 2-2 Liverpool: ‘Positives for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but a big chance missed’ – Danny Murphy

8 April 2024 0 By Total Football News
MOTD2 analysis

They were 2-1 down at Old Trafford with less than 10 minutes to go, so Liverpool have to take some positives from Sunday’s draw with Manchester United.

After being so dominant – they had more control of that match at half-time than I’ve seen them have against anyone for a very long time – they could have felt sorry for themselves after falling behind.

Instead they showed fight and spirit, to come back and leave with a point.

Still, my over-riding feeling was that it should have been more. A draw is certainly not the end of the world for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Premier League title race, but it feels like a big opportunity has been missed.

The reality is that Liverpool had enough chances in the first half to win two or three games, and with the quality of the forward players they have got, you just don’t expect them to miss that many.

An amazing lack of defensive discipline

What stood out about Liverpool in the first half was their desire – their running off the ball was incredible, and they showed how badly they wanted the win.

It was a really front-foot attitude – sharp, full of energy and everything you want from an away performance when you are trying to win the league.

There was no caution and United struggled to cope. In fact, they helped Liverpool because they lacked anything like the same willingness without the ball.

Sometimes you lose games because the opposition tactics surprise you or there is a problem you can’t solve, but that wasn’t the case here. It wasn’t down to amazing play from Liverpool either.

The two teams set up in a similar 4-3-3 shape and the reality was that a lot of Liverpool’s first-half chances simply came off the back of overloads, with their players left free to run off the back of United’s.

Graphic showing Liverpool's starting XI v Man Utd: Kelleher, Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Robertson, Szoboszlai, Endo, Mac Allister, Salah, Nunez, Diaz

That is just basics and should not be happening at this level, certainly not as regularly as it did – in the first half it felt like it was happening every five minutes.

Whether it was Dominik Szoboszlai getting away from Casemiro or Alejandro Garnacho failing to stay close to Andy Robertson, It was amazing to watch United’s lack of defensive discipline.

Time and time again, Liverpool found themselves in two versus one, or four on three situations. United were hanging on for dear life, but a couple of great saves by Andre Onana and some poor finishing meant Erik ten Hag’s side stayed in the game.

At half-time, we were talking in the MOTD2 production office about how Liverpool might regret not finishing them off… and so it proved.

Graphic showing Man Utd's starting XI v Liverpool: Onana, Dalot, Kambwala, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, Casemiro, Mainoo, Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Hojlund

Suddenly United had belief

Liverpool had actually started the second half quite well before Jarell Quansah’s mistake.

The problem was not just the fact they had conceded an equaliser, it was that it suddenly gave everyone in the stadium belief. The United fans were thinking ‘here we go’ and you could see their players grew in confidence and found that extra bit of energy they had been missing.

It still felt like there was loads of space for Liverpool whenever they attacked, but United definitely improved and then Kobbie Mainoo did something very special to put them in front.

We know Mainoo has great quality, and some of his defensive work was brilliant again on Sunday, but his goal was just a bit of class. A beautiful finish from a super young talent, and the game was turned completely on its head.

I know how hard it is to recover from there, at Old Trafford of all places, but that was when Liverpool needed to show their resilience and they did exactly that.

They kept coming forward, and they got their reward.

Will Spurs decide the title race?

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League table: 1st Arsenal, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Man City, 4th Aston Villa, 5th Tottenham & 6th Man Utd

Arsenal fans will be buzzing because the title is in their hands now – well, to a degree. Liverpool and Manchester City are both relying on them slipping up.

But it could not be much closer at the top of the table, and we are set for an amazing run in.

I have a sneaky feeling that Tottenham are going to have a big say in who ends up as champions because on their day they can beat anyone, and they still have to play all of the top three.

Spurs are going for the Champions League places and have a wonderful group of players but, on top of that, they have got this chaotic, front-foot, way of playing where anything can happen, home or away.

As a pundit I really enjoy the jeopardy of it all, and there are plenty of twists and turns to come in the next few weeks.

Of course I would like Liverpool to end up on top but it would be amazing if there were still three teams left in the race on the final day of the season. It is tense enough when there are only two.

Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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