Manchester United battle to goalless draw at Anfield as Liverpool blunted

By Sports Desk December 17, 2023

Liverpool’s failure to score for the first time since April cost them top spot in the Premier League as Manchester United secured a goalless draw to deny their arch-rivals a club record.

Erik ten Hag’s side succeeded where 34 previous opponents had failed in keeping out a team which finished the game with five attacking players on the pitch and Trent Alexander-Arnold playing as the central fulcrum.

The visitors offered little in the way of threat themselves as their goal drought on enemy territory extended to 507 minutes, stretching back five years, but they at least stemmed the bleeding which had seen them concede 21 times in the last five meetings home and away.

In that respect, the under-scrutiny United boss can take a crumb of comfort and their supporters will have been equally delighted to both deny Liverpool recovering top spot after Arsenal had moved ahead earlier in the day and also ending their 100 per cent home record.

Less impressive was Diogo Dalot’s controversial double-yellow card sending off in added time.

It is now just one win in six for the visitors and defensive performances such as this will not get them any closer to the top four.

Ten Hag also still has to find a way to unlock the potential of £72million summer signing Rasmus Hojland, who had United’s only shot on target in the 67th minute.

His Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp will be even more disappointed, however, that his side did not convert their dominance – they had 34 shots in the game – into something more than a point.

After recent late escapes against Fulham and Crystal Palace there was no sting in the tail here, in fact there was very little sting at all throughout as Darwin Nunez never looked like ending a goalless run that has now extended to seven matches.

While Mohamed Salah turned and toiled, even his mercurial skills could not unlock a committed United defence which saw goalkeeper Andre Onana have one of his better days.

In front of their biggest attendance for half a century – 57,000 after the top tier of the Anfield Road stand was opened – Liverpool established their dominance in the first five minutes, winning a corner after 15 seconds on their way to 89 percent possession and two shots.

However, they failed to turn that into anything substantive after Sofyan Amrabat cleared a Kostas Tsimikas free-kick just yards off his own goalline and a stretching Nunez failed to reach Salah’s lobbed pass.

The pressure United were being put under was typified by Antony passing the ball out of play as intended target Dalot ran past him.

United’s narrow back four gave their hosts plenty of space out wide but although Alexander-Arnold and Salah regularly found themselves in those areas they were not effective enough.

Onana failed to hold a Luke Shaw half-clearance and Salah’s shot was deflected wide but did much better in tipping over Virgil van Dijk’s header.

Salah opted to shoot weakly instead of passing to the overlapping Tsimikas in a rare error of judgement which was reflective of a half which had plenty of shots, the most against United in the first half in five years, but little genuine threat.

In that aspect United’s plan was working and, after Alexander-Arnold, who made a timely challenge on Alejandro Garnacho as he bore down on goal, drove into the side-netting Klopp switched to a 4-4-2 with his hybrid right-back moving full-time into central midfield and Salah deployed up top.

It brought immediate change with Alexander-Arnold’s low drive just wide and Onana palming away a Salah effort and charging down a Luis Diaz shot.

In between the isolated Hjoland found the chest of Alisson Becker with just the keeper to beat.

United swapped Garnacho for Marcus Rashford while Klopp switched again, this time to a 4-2-3-1 with the attacking talents of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott deployed.

However, the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was substitute Joe Gomez finding the side-netting.

Things ended on a bizarre note with Dalot’s fume for having a decision go against him resulting in two cautions within the space of a few seconds.

Related items

  • Stuart Attwell named in VAR team for Euro 2024 amid Forest controversy Stuart Attwell named in VAR team for Euro 2024 amid Forest controversy

    Stuart Attwell will be one of the VARs at this summer’s European Championship in Germany, with Anthony Taylor among the on-field referees.

    The news comes two days on from the pair being on duty for Nottingham Forest’s 2-0 loss at Everton, after which the officiating was attacked in a social media post from the visitors that referenced Attwell being “a Luton fan”.

    The post said there had been “three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept”, adding: “We warned the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him.”

    On Monday, Forest said they had submitted a formal request to PGMOL for audio of discussions between Attwell and Taylor in relation to the three incidents to be made public.

    They also called on PGMOL to change its rules on officials’ allegiances “to account for contextual rivalries in the league table’, not just local rivalries”.

    Three Forest members of staff – boss Nuno Espirito Santo, referee analyst Mark Clattenburg and full-back Neco Williams – have been asked by the Football Association for their observations following comments they made after the match at Goodison Park, while the Premier League is examining the club’s social media post.

    As well as Taylor, with assistants Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn, Michael Oliver will be the other English on-field referee at the Euros, assisted by Stuart Burt and Dan Cook, UEFA said on Tuesday. The other English VAR alongside Attwell will be David Coote.

  • Barcelona could demand Real Madrid replay if ‘phantom goal’ deemed legal Barcelona could demand Real Madrid replay if ‘phantom goal’ deemed legal

    Barcelona president Joan Laporta has threatened legal action and could demand a replay after his side were denied a goal against Real Madrid at the weekend.

    Lamine Yamal thought he had scored in the 28th minute of Sunday’s 3-2 LaLiga loss at the Bernabeu but, after a lengthy VAR check, it was ruled the ball had not cross the line.

    The Spanish competition does not use goalline technology.

    Laporta has requested footage and audio of the decision-making over this “phantom goal” incident from the Spanish Football Federation and will then consider further action.

    He said in a statement on the club’s website, “If, once this documentation has been analysed, the club understands that an error was made in the revision of the incident, we will take all available measures to reverse the situation, without discounting, obviously, any necessary legal action.

    “If it is confirmed that it was a legal goal, we will move ahead and we do not discount requesting that the game be replayed, just as has happened in another game in Europe due to a VAR error.”

    Laporta was referring to a decision to replay a Belgian Pro League between Anderlecht and Genk because of a VAR error earlier this season.

    Real went on to win the match 3-2 with a stoppage-time winner from Jude Bellingham and are now 11 points clear of Barca at the top of the table.

  • Football rumours: Five clubs in the race to sign Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise Football rumours: Five clubs in the race to sign Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise
    What the papers say

    Five clubs are in the race to sign Crystal Palace forward Michael Olise, Football Insider reports, with Arsenal and Manchester United joining Manchester City, Juventus and Chelsea. The 22-year-old has scored seven goals in 14 games for Palace this season.

    The Sun says Barcelona have joined Arsenal in the fight for Newcastle striker Alexander Isak with the Spanish club hoping to strike a deal with the Magpies for a player reported to be valued at around £90million. The 24-year-old Sweden international has scored 17 goals in 24 Premier League games for Newcastle this season.

    Meanwhile, the credentials of Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will be assessed  by new technical director Jason Wilcox as the club decides on the Dutchman’s future, according to the Telegraph, while the same outlet says former Wolvers manager Julen Lopetegui is a contender to replace David Moyes at West Ham.

    Social media round-upPlayers to watch

    Viktor Gyokeres: The 25-year-old Sporting Lisbon striker is Arsenal’s top target as the Gunners prepare to make several signings this summer, Football Transfers reports.

    Wilfred Ndidi: Crystal Palace are interested in the Leicester midfielder who is available for a free transfer this summer, according to Talksport.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.