Liverpool 1 Manchester United 0



Anfield celebrated Monday’s centenary of Bill Shankly’s birthday with a performance that embodied the late, great manager’s ethos of everyone at Liverpool bonded by a common purpose, of a “holy trinity of players, manager and supporters” giving everything in their different ways for victory. With a nod to the past, Liverpool look positively towards the future.

Even after their best start since 1994, predictions of Liverpool joining the title race may be too premature but Anfield is undeniably awash with optimism.

The most important element of the holy trinity, the players, excelled here, particularly Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Against lacklustre champions sorely missing Wayne Rooney’s spark, Skrtel and company concentrated ceaselessly and closed down tirelessly. They kept the shape and discipline and ­deservedly prevailed.

Skrtel’s immense display at centre-half brought to mind one of Shankly’s famous quotes about Ron Yeats that “with him in defence, we could play Arthur Askey in goal’’.

Liverpool have the highly capable shot-stopper Simon Mignolet but he was well ­protected by Skrtel. In constantly frustrating Robin van Persie through anticipation or physical strength, ­Skrtel highlighted why so many clubs would like to sign him, why Kolo Touré’s recruitment was slightly strange, beyond deepening the squad.

Liverpool v Manchester United: how the players rated

How the players fared in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Anfield

Simon Mignolet: 7/10

Had little to do until United turned the screw late in the game, but Belgian ‘keeper kept out a Ryan Giggs header before doing well to push away Nani’s long range strike.

Glen Johnson: 7

Often derided as being better going forward than defensively, but the England fullback was resolute against Ashley Young, but suffered a late injury after challenge on Evra.

Martin Skrtel: 7

Worked in tandem with Agger to shackle Van Persie and then had to keep Javier Hernandez quiet following the Mexican substitute’s arrival late in the game.

Daniel Agger: 8

Embroiled in a long-running battle with Robin van Persie, which boiled over more than once, but the Danish centre half kept the United forward as quiet as he has been for a long time.

Jose Enrique: 7

Was given a stern test of his credentials when Valencia replaced the injured Jones late in the first-half and he gave as good as he good against United’s revitalised winger.

Lucas: 7

Often goes unnoticed, but the defensive midfielder was crucial in denying United the space to create for Robin van Persie. Liverpool’s top four hopes depend on keeping Lucas fit.

Steven Gerrard: 7

Never found wanting in games against Liverpool’s biggest rivals and the England captain led from the front as the home side won the midfield battle in the early stages.

Philippe Coutinho: 7

Unable to maintain his breathtaking start to the game, but the Brazilian was a thorn in United’s side for much of the first-half and continue to cause problems throughout.

Jordan Henderson: 7

Did not do his England ambitions any harm in front of Roy Hodgson. Seems more settled and confident in Brendan Rodgers’ team and beginning to realise his potential.

Daniel Sturridge: 8

Early goal made him the first Liverpool forward since Robbie Fowler in 1994 to start a season with three goals in first three games. A constant menace to United’s back four.

Iago Aspas: 6

The £7.6m summer signing from Celta Vigo looked lost amid the flying tackles in this game. Showed some nice touches, but could struggle physically in the Premier League.

Substitutes

Luis Alberto: On for Coutinho 83, 6

Raheem Sterling: On for Aspas 60, 6

Andre Wisdom: On for Johnson 78, 6

Manchester United

David de Gea: 7

Had no chance with Sturridge’s goal, but after two difficult encounters with Liverpool in recent seasons, the Spaniard looked composed and confident behind Ferdinand and Vidic.

Phil Jones: 6

Started brightly and made life difficult for Coutinho, but his injury curse struck late in the first-half when he landed awkwardly on his ankle after an aerial challenge.

Rio Ferdinand: 6

Will look back at Sturridge’s opening goal and realise he was at fault for allowing Daniel Agger to break free to head on Gerrard’s corner. Recovered well, but it was a costly error.

Nemanja Vidic: 7

Made a crucial first-half block to deny Sturridge and once again stood out as United’s best defender. Workload increased by United’s creaking midfield.

Patrice Evra: 7

Had to endure torrents of boos whenever he touched the ball due to his history with Luis Suarez, but the French fullback was one of the few United players to offer something going forward.

Michael Carrick: 7

Was denied the time and space to dictate the pace of the game and walked a disciplinary tightrope following a soft first-half booking. Needs Had more influence in second half.

Ryan Giggs: 6

Deployed on right of midfield as a result of Wayne Rooney’s injury-enforced absence, but struggled to have an impact on the game. Another who needs younger legs around him.

Ashley Young: 5

Did not offer enough going forward and, when he had the ball, allowed himself to head down too many blind alleys. Always took one touch more than necessary.

Tom Cleverley: 6

Targeted by Liverpool whenever he had the ball. At times, he dealt with it well, but at others the England man became rattled by the close attention and was overrun by opponents.

Danny Welbeck: 6

Worked tirelessly for the team, but he never looked like scoring and that is a recurring theme. Only positive was that he stayed fit ahead of England’s World Cup qualifiers.

Robin van Persie: 6

Looked increasingly frustrated after enduring a successive ninety minutes without a clear scoring chance. Late loss of Rooney to injury was a blow, but Van Persie needs better service.

Subs

Javier Hernandez: On for Giggs 73, 6

Nani: On for Young 63, 6

Antonio Valencia: On for Jones 37, 7 – Injected attacking intent down the right.

 

 

Posted by on Sep 2 2013. Filed under Featured, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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