A vintage Manchester United display: Playing terrible football and still beating Liverpool 3-0 thanks to David de Gea saves, Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli being unable to score from up close, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie scoring easy goals and Juan Mata doing the same but from an offside position.
Brendan Rodgers made the right decision of playing in a 4-6-0 formation that made Raheem Sterling difficult for the slow Manchester United defense to handle, but for every one of his misses from up close, two of them in the first half and another one in the second half, Liverpool were punished. The second goal by Juan Mata was scored from a clear offside position, telling us that Manchester United aren’t just winning again, they’re getting their refereeing mojo again.
Wayne Rooney should have been sent off for a second yellow on the first play of the second half. Maybe it would have made a difference, but Liverpool can’t blame the official for the loss. Brendan Rodgers radiates zerio of confidence with his zig zags in the lineup, rotations, formations and substitutions. Mario Balotelli didn’t add much to the game, and then leaving his team with three centre backs after putting on Lazar Markovic for Alberto Moreno didn’t help either.
The third goal was a combination of everything that’s wrong in this match and the season: Dejan Lovren with a pathetic excuse for a clearance after yet another miss and turnover near the penalty box, resulting in an easy counter attack for Manchester United and Robin van Persie, in scorching scoring form without actually playing too well on the pitch, scoring from close range.
It came down to a difference in firepower and finishing. Until the match entered garbage time in the 71st minute, Manchester United looked bad. No chances except for the two goals, slow defending and a midfield that was lacking creativity and ideas on how to regain possession and gain some momentum. Liverpool did everything right for about 60 minutes, but three Raheem Sterling misses from very close range and another from Mario Balotelli was too much for such a fragile team to endure.
Manchester United aren’t that far away from challenging Chelsea and Manchester City in terms of points, but it’s hard to see them actually making a run for the title. Third or fourth place seems a lot more realistic, unless at some point this string of results will be matches with good football. For Liverpool, there were hints of good football for the first time in a while, but without putting the ball in the net, all that possession and creating of chances doesn’t really matter.