Once again, a lack of finishing touch costs Liverpool points, this time at home against their biggest rivals, Manchester United. Wayne Rooney made the difference with his third goal in four matches to claim a 1-0 victory at Anfield.
It’s the second consecutive league double for Manchester United in the Northwestern derby, although they were the inferior side for most of the match. Rooney scored off a rebound, coming from a Marouane Fellaini header that hit the crossbar. The rest of the match was Liverpool trying to push through a mostly organized Manchester United defense, and either mishitting the final pass or touch, or running into a fantastic David de Gea.
The first half was all Liverpool, with the pace and work rate of Jordan Henderson and James Milner leaving the Red Devils breathless and hopeless. But no goals came from it, and by the time Liverpool actually made some tactical changes, it was too late. It’s difficult scoring goals without an actual striker for almost the entire match, or someone like Philippe Coutinho, out with an injury, leaving much to want when it comes to shooting and creativity.
Roberto Firmino remains a mystery. Brilliant matches followed by frustrating ones in which nothing he does works. He runs, puts in an effort, but as of now, nothing from the huge sum paid for one of the best players in the Bundesliga seems to be translated into goals or creating them, not to mention barely staying in the upper half of the table in this weird Premier League season. The Klopp change while sacking Brendan Rodgers was popular with the fans, but the quality of football doesn’t match the lack of finishing this team showcases time after time. Maybe he really is a genius manager, but without a certain type of players, all the exciting actions on the sidelines and interesting interviews aren’t going to help him make Liverpool catch up with those battling it out for the Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp reacted late to everything happening on the pitch. His team completely dominated the first half, but lost that for long stretches of the second half, with Manchester United midfielders no longer static and leaving Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial all alone up front. Christian Benteke, pretty much the only striker this team has, was introduced only in the 81st minute. While Klopp has enjoyed some impressive finishes late in matches since becoming the Liverpool manager, it’s not a magic trick he can pull off each time.
The team with the most clean sheets in the Premier League added another one thanks to David de Gea, the best goalkeeper in England, maybe on the planet right now. Louis van Gaal can deflect annoying questions this week without having a loss or disappointing result to explain, carrying on with his perfect record against Liverpool since becoming the Manchester United manager. Liverpool? Only ninth, and right now, not looking good enough or consistent enough to battle with those trying to finish in the top 4.