Liverpool needed strong performances from Fabinho and Alisson as they managed only a goalless draw at home to Manchester United.
Sunday 17 January 2021 18:52, UK
Manchester United stayed top of the Premier League table as champions Liverpool could only manage a 0-0 draw with their great rivals at Anfield.
Alisson - 8
With Manchester United looking for the long ball over the top, the Brazilian goalkeeper had to be quick off his line and alert to the threat. He was scrambling to stop Bruno Fernandes' free-kick but did have to be on his toes to kick away a close-range shot from the same player in the second half. Also denied Paul Pogba late on. Showed his quality and saved his side.
Facing some question marks over his perceived dip in form and having endured some difficult times against Marcus Rashford in this fixture, Alexander-Arnold was under some scrutiny. Some moments of sloppiness defensively but much of his work was in the United half as he attempted to whip some trademark crosses in behind the opposition defence.
The captain was deployed in an unfamiliar position in defence but coped admirably with the threat of the Manchester United attack, reading the game well in cutting out some of the passes through to Rashford. His instinct would have been to drop off given the pace advantage of his opponents but was brave in holding that high defensive line.
Another midfielder at the back, albeit one with rather more experience than Henderson, Fabinho looked assured, producing an early clearance and a brilliant block on Fernandes too. So good when one on one with Rashford late on, he was also composed in possession with his flexibility once again proving crucial for Liverpool through this awkward injury crisis.
With Paul Pogba playing out of position on the right, there was space for Robertson to run into from left-back and he might have done better with some of his early chances. The Scot squandered one opportunity to put the ball into the box when well-placed and also skewed a shot over the bar inside the first 15 minutes. Kept making the runs as ever.
In his first appearance for Liverpool at Anfield, Thiago offered plenty of evidence of his undoubted class, controlling the game at times in midfield. His ability to glide away from markers with a shift of balance and that willingness to fire passes forwards helped to get Liverpool on the front foot. Almost marked it with a goal with a fine long-range effort.
Out of contract in the summer but Wijnaldum remains a key man for Jurgen Klopp and got through his usual work in the centre of a new-look Liverpool midfield. Replaced by James Milner for the final minutes.
Making his first Premier League start since December 2019, Shaqiri found himself in a deeper role than usual among Liverpool's midfield three. There were some nice touches in the first half but he was also booked for a foul on Luke Shaw in a dangerous area. After the break, he put in a superb corner before making way for Curtis Jones late on.
Came into the game having not scored in his previous three Premier League games - Salah's longest drought of the season - and was unable to end that sequence here. Lashed one effort over the bar before the break and went close to finding the breakthrough goal in the second half but could not get his feet sorted to test David de Gea in the United goal.
Firmino is a big-game player for Klopp, but his finishing was well short of what was required at Anfield. All of the best chances fell to him in the first half but he rushed it too often, even showing some uncharacteristic selfishness at times. Sloppy in some of his general play too.
Mane enjoyed something of a return to form with his first two-goal haul since the opening weeks of the campaign in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Aston Villa's youngsters last time out and looked the sharpest forward on the pitch in the early exchanges. Could not find that killer pass, however, getting little change from Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the left.
The Liverpool youngster came on for Shaqiri in his favoured position on the right of midfield but his side endured some hairy moments thereafter with United having the better opportunities in that final 15 minutes.
The burly forward replaced Firmino for the final minutes but there were no heroics from the Belgian.
Introduced to bring some calm to the game as Liverpool threatened to be picked off by United. Managed an important contribution in winning the ball back off Pogba as he looked to counter-attack in stoppage time.
A spectator in the main before pulling off one decent save from Thiago's long-distance strike.
Fortunate not to give a penalty away just after the break but otherwise solid and typically tenacious in one-on-one situations.
A somewhat surprising selection given Eric Bailly's fine form of late, but Lindelof vindicated his inclusion with a near-faultless display in defence. His goal-saving clearance with ten minutes on the clock was sensational.
Shaky on occasion, most notably when he unnecessarily ceded possession to create a chance for Liverpool in the first half, but generally solid. You can't argue with a clean sheet at the home of the champions.
Excellent. Had an answer to everything Mo Salah threatened and created Man United's best chance of the game with an overlapping run that nearly resulted in Fernandes scoring. "He looks like he has power in his running again," said Gary Neville during commentary.
Another likeable performance from a player who may not be vintage United but who certainly never appears to apply anything less than his all.
Made certain of his inclusion this Sunday with a man-of-the-match display in midweek, but failed to make a meaningful impact from the right of midfield at Anfield and stayed on the periphery until his late chance to open the scoring was stopped by Allison. Should he have scored? Roy Keane certainly believed so. "He has to score," said Keane. "If Pogba wants to be the main man, he has to take that chance."
Could he have done more to curb and contain Thiago when the Liverpool midfielder threatened to pull the strings in the first half? Perhaps. But, to his credit, his discipline in front of United's central defenders never wavered as United's midfield held their own.
Billed pre-match as United's most important player, he was, on an evening when nothing quite worked for him, the visitors' most disappointing performer. His contributions ranged from the profligate to the sloppy to the over-optimistic. Having gone close with an early free-kick, the save he demanded from Allison late on should have been more challenging.
Deployed, by quite some distance, as United's furthest-forward player prior to Cavani's introduction, but the tactic frequently fell down before the interval because of Rashford's baffling indiscipline with the offside rule. Even though Cavani's arrival was the first change of the game, it still felt overdue. Ended the game back on the wing but in frustration.
Did a respectable if rather inconspicuous job from the left but his own deployment, and Rashford's self-inflicted failure to thrive in the centre, will only fuel the argument that Cavani is United's most natural, and perhaps therefore best, centre-forward. Hooked after an hour as Rashford reverted to the wing.
Some nice touches after his introduction but United never quite managed to get him in the game.
Came on for a disgruntled Fernandes late on.
Liverpool now host Burnley on Thursday evening, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 8pm, before going to Manchester United in the FA Cup at 5pm on Sunday.
Before that FA Cup clash, Manchester United are at Fulham in the Premier League at 8.15pm on Wednesday night.