Fact: Craig Pawson had a terrible afternoon at Old Trafford, missing two or three penalties which really helped out Manchester United, as they beat Liverpool 2-1 to tighten their grasp over second place in the Premier League. Another fact: Jurgen Klopp’s players, especially his key guys, had a very bad game, making it very difficult to come away with a good result regardless of the official’s mistakes.
Liverpool, or most clubs for that matter, don’t usually do well in this stadium. With just one win since 2010, a one-goal loss against a club with just one defeat at home this season isn’t too awful of a result. But it keeps Liverpool grounded, sadly for them. It shows the difference between a fun, Champions League participant to a serious title challenger and one of Europe’s elite.
Back to Pawson – He needed to send off Marcus Rashford in the first half for two bookable offenses (booked him just once). He missed a clear handball, one 50-50 penalty and one clear penalty, all in the second half, all decisions that went against Liverpool.
On the other hand, Liverpool failed to find space, or make good, quick decisions in the danger area most of the time. Mohamed Salah had his worst performance since joining from Roma. Roberto Firmino had a poor one too. Sadio Mane was a bit more active and involved, but he too felt too isolated and inaccurate most of the time.
The result is a great one for United and for Tottenham as well, who can now drop Liverpool to fourth with a win on Sunday at Bournemouth. For Liverpool, this wasn’t a disaster, but something of a humbling experience, both tactically for Klopp who couldn’t find the solution to Jose Mourinho’s compact and pragmatic approach, and for Liverpool’s stars, who might have gotten too many praises for their own good in recent months.