It’s been quite a while since Liverpool have come out as the victorious side in the Northwest Derby, beating Manchester United 1-0 with a lot of defense, a lot of heart and a little bit of Daniel Sturridge, who seems to be scoring goals even when he doesn’t mean it, while Simon Mignolet continues to prove he’s one of the best signings any team has made this season.
Besides the opening goal (only 4 minutes into the match), we hardly saw anything offensive from Liverpool. Maybe there was that chance by Raheem Sterling deep into injury time. But that was it. Manchester United are a stronger side, who finds it much easier to control a match and turn defense into offense a lot quicker.
But Liverpool have a goalkeeper simply oozing of confidence. Mignolet made comfortable stop after confident pick up of a cross. Robin van Persie had only one real chance in the box, and even that didn’t hit the target. He was left frustrated from an aggressive treatment under the hands of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, which almost got him sent off. Eventually, he was only booked.
Nani had a few moments of showing that the talent he has in his feet hasn’t gone away, but the best he could do with it was one long range shot that Mignolet handled very well. Danny Welbeck was dangerous early on, but most of what United did was crossing into the Liverpool box and pressuring the defense. Real chances? Not so much.
Steven Gerrard was a defensive midfielder for an entire match. The moment Liverpool scored their goal off of his corner, Agger’s head and Sturridge’s flick, Liverpool immediately turned on the defense and forgot about attacking in numbers. Jordan Henderson hardly touched the ball, but did an incredible defensive job. Iago Aspas and Philippe Coutinho were in charge of the possession, but the front trio, with Daniel Sturridge as well, there was too much selfishness and not enough combination and movement, or numbers when attacking.
It’s been 30 months since Liverpool beat Manchester United (3-1), and it’s been a lot longer since Liverpool held a five point lead over Manchester United three weeks into the new season. First place, nine points. Something seems quite off. Liverpool are disciplined, tactical and smart, but not good enough to be this successful for too long, right?
For Manchester United, David Moyes needs to find out what’s not working. His team hasn’t played very well in two of their first three matches, and it seems that if Robin van Persie isn’t playing well, his chances of getting something out of the match becomes an almost impossible affair. Shinji Kagawa is forgotten on the bench, and without Rooney there was no creativity for far too long on the pitch. Not having the Alex Ferguson ability to influence referees (Liverpool wouldn’t have enjoyed such fairness in the whistles had it been the older Scot on the sideline) is something he’ll have to get used to.