Super Sub Shaqiri

Super Sub Shaqiri

Total shots attempted between the two sides – 36 to 6.

This might as well have been the scoreline between Liverpool and Manchester United. What used to be a scintillating derby match-up between two arch rivals seem distant, and the visitors are just part of Liverpool victims for their race to the coveted title that has eluded them for more than two decades. (Liverpool last won the league in 1989-90 season).

Fortunate for the Anfield faithful, the return of Nathaniel Clyne (first start since May 2018) fueled pace on the right flank amidst injuries from Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Jurgen Klopp started Fabinho in midfield over Jordan Henderson which paid off spectacularly after his dominance, creativity, and split-reaction defending were showcased just in the first half alone. Naby Keita was also included in the starting 11 and his energy was to be applauded but his lack of finishing and passing decisions were detrimental to the team. Liverpool’s set piece delivery were also lackluster majority of the match with the exclusion of Milner and Alexander-Arnold.

United made several changes to the team that lost to Valencia in the mid-week. Paul Pogba was nowhere to be seen on the line-up. Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof started in defense to lock Mohammed Salah up and when Marouane Fellaini came on, the Egyptian had a hard time creating chances and spaces.

In the opening 19 minutes of the match, Liverpool has gone close six times inside United’s penalty box. Left-back Andrew Robertson has United’s youngster Diogo Dalot in his pocket throughout the match and created several chances together with the brilliance of Sadio Mane. Dalot who is primarily a right back, started as a right midfield for this match and his unfamiliarity at that role might have costed the Red Devils.

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Former Monaco maestro Fabinho set up Sadio Mane with a soft floater for him to volley pass De Gea in the 24th minute, but United hit back after a rare error from Alison Becker allowed Jesse Lingard to slot it past him. Romelu Lukaku had a tame cross which Becker parried into the path of Lingard. This is Lingard’s second goal for United this season.

On the 70th minute, Keita came off to introduce Xherdan Shaqiri which proved to be Klopp’s master plan. Within three minutes of coming on, the Swiss paid off the boss’s faith by scoring off a deflected shot on Ashley Young that came off under the crossbar which left David De Gea stunned. Seven minutes later, the former Bayern Munich winger scored one more off a ricochet on Eric Bailly.

Even Jose Mourinho had to comment, “They are fast, they are intense, they are aggressive, they are physical, they are objective. They play 200 miles per hour with and without the ball. I am still tired just looking at Robertson! He makes 100 metre sprints per minute, absolutely incredible, and these are qualities. I would say that Liverpool deserved the victory, but it’s hard for my players to work hard like they did, and to lose in exactly the moment when we didn’t believe we would lose.”

This win cemented Liverpool’s best start to any season, and remains the only undefeated club in the Premier League (14W3D). The Reds are now 19 points above United and one point ahead of the high-flying Manchester City.

 

 

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