Sunday, 15 October 2017

United miss chance for statement win but remain unbeaten

Jose Mourinho will be slaughtered for this but he will not care after his tactical plan worked to perfection to frustrate the life out of Liverpool (again). 
It's almost a year to the day since the Reds of Manchester and Merseyside played out a drab goalless stalemate at Anfield, with the hosts snuffed out by a classic Mourinho masterclass in defensive resilience and organisation. 

12 months on, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was merely the DVD of that meeting, so turgid and tepid was it.
Then, United were indebted to David de Gea after two fine second half saves to deny Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho.
The Spaniard was at his brilliant best again here, and this time he kept out Joel Matip with a magnificent save with his foot from six yards. 

City won at Chelsea before the international break and followed that up with a devastating showing in their 7-2 victory over Mark Hughes Stoke City side.
This was a chance for United to deliver a statement of their own in our first fixture against one of last season's top six, but we saw again the same pragmatic blueprint as in the corresponding meeting 12 months ago.

Away to Liverpool and with injuries having hit the squad hard, Jose's game plan should come as little surprise. 

David de Gea's world-class save aside, Emre Can's one-on-one miss after the break was as much as Jurgen Klopp's side offered. 

Had Romelu Lukaku taken United's one clear cut chance before half-time, this would have been the ultimate of smash and grab wins. 
That one moment aside, this was largely an outing to forget for the £75m former Everton striker, who was starved of service in an almost anonymous showing.

Mourinho is a bigger picture manager and set the team up to avoid defeat.

We did just that, and the hard-earned point garnered at Anfield could prove crucial in the final reckoning.
The injury-hit Reds remain unbeaten and a return of 20 points from eight games played is the title-winning form of potential champions.
That's exactly how Jose will justify as dour a performance as we'll see this season. 

Liverpool were allowed to dominate possession, paint pretty pictures and play on the front foot but they were ultimately frustrated and came up short. 

This was a match that will be instantly forgettable as the much-hyped fixture again failed to live up to expectation, perhaps in part due to the lunchtime KO straight after the international break.

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