Liverpool and Man Utd's humiliation on 'Silly Sunday' explained on Pitch to Post Review Podcast

After a Sunday that will live long in the memory, the Pitch to Post Podcast Review analyse just what went wrong for Man Utd and Liverpool

Silly Sunday

The dust has settled… just what on earth happened at Old Trafford and Villa Park on 'Silly Sunday'?

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After a Sunday that will live long in the memory, the Pitch to Post Review panel analyse just what went wrong for Manchester United and Liverpool.

Jasper Taylor is joined by Gerard Brand, Vinny O'Connor, James Cooper and Jack Wilkinson to tear apart Liverpool and United's performances, after both lost by five-goal margins on 'Silly Sunday'.

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Liverpool's offside trap failing

Liverpool players react to conceding their sixth goal against Aston Villa 5:57
Jamie Carragher criticised Liverpool's persistence at playing a high defensive line in the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League

Sky Sports' Gerard Brand:

"I think we've got to be careful not to put this defeat down to one thing only. It's down to several things, and not all of them can be helped by Liverpool.

"But there's a flaw to their game - and it's not even to do with quality or personnel - it's actually their shape. Liverpool do two things quite distinctly - they like to squeeze the pitch into the opposition half, and essentially play pinball football, that's one thing, and secondly they play the offside trap.

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"That offside trap failed several times against Leeds, and failed even more against Villa. In transition, instead of Liverpool's back line moving back at the same pace the players move towards them, they almost stand still. Villa breached that so many times.

"But this has been a conscious tactic of Liverpool's since the start of last season, and they essentially take a risk, or give up one chance to the opposition per game, in order to gain more chances at the other end. That so often works, but in two of their four games this season, it hasn't.

"Adrian cost them a few games last season, and cost them the opener on Sunday. That set the tone. With Alisson out for four to six weeks that's now a major concern. Then you've got the performance of Joe Gomez, who had a shocker.

"Then you're looking at the forward players and how they're pressing. If one or two of them are off as they were on Sunday, and the opposition gets through, that back line is suddenly exposed. Pair that with them standing still because of an offside trap, and you'll get these scorelines. It was just stunning the way they capitulated."

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A Henderson-sized gap in the team

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa's win over Liverpool in the Premier League

Sky Sports News' Vinny O'Connor:

"It was all over the pitch on Sunday night. It wasn't just one individual, but we saw Liverpool's midfield not functioning. Obviously there was no Sadio Mane, and Jota maybe doesn't have that physical element that Mane brings, and it was just a very, very strange performance.

"You look at it and think if there was a Jordan Henderson playing in that side maybe they don't play as badly, and they'd certainly look a lot more solid.

"He's a steadying influence in that midfield, and provides more than that at times. When you need someone to dig in, put in a tackle, lead by example, organise, he is that figure.

"Through that spine of the team, Henderson is such an influential figure, and you can see that by Liverpool's results when he's in the side, and by how Jurgen Klopp and his team-mates think of him.

"It just felt like there wasn't that someone who could get a grip of people and say: 'Come on, we've got to lift this now'. I'm not saying Liverpool would have avoided defeat, but certainly you're not going to end up being beaten as badly as they did.

"It could be a freak result, but they certainly need to lift it for the Merseyside derby."

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For and against: Do Man Utd need a sporting director?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham's win at Manchester United in the Premier League

Sky Sports' Jack Wilkinson:

"The centre-back issue is interesting because they kept nine clean sheets towards the end of last season, in their final 14 games, so I can understand and have some sympathy with (Ole Gunnar) Solskjaer as to why that wasn't right at the top of his list of priorities.

"But the start of this season has drawn into sharp focus how much they need support there. They're a great side full of attacking talent, but incredibly fragile when things aren't going their way.

"I think United have chopped and changed through different philosophies since Fergie left, and I think there is a hangover there. I think a sporting director is the key for consistency throughout all of these periods.

"Fergie ran the whole operation, and these are key, crucial roles that haven't been addressed."

Sky Sports' Gerard Brand:

"There's the argument that there's no football direction because of a lack of a sporting director. United have tried to solely sign young players in the last couple of years, and bring youth through, with a manager who knows the club, playing bold attacking football. Is a sporting director really going to go in a wildly different direction to that?

"They seem like all the things Man Utd fans want! We talk about defensive football under Jose Mourinho and how nobody liked it. OK, now they're playing attacking football, and which may leave the defence short and fragile. There's no single answer to this, and that's why it's so confusing.

"But Jack is right, a sporting director is the only thing left they haven't tried."

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United cracks starting to appear

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Gary Neville slammed the Manchester United players that lost 6-1 to Tottenham at Old Trafford, claiming they were absolutely pathetic during the defeat

Sky Sports News' James Cooper:

"It was back to the bad old days on Sunday. It was six, but it could have been 10, 11, 12, because there didn't seem to be a will to stop Spurs.

"It asked questions of recruitment, management, strategy, huge question marks. Considerable problems, and it seems the cracks are starting to appear.

"In the games United have played so far this season, you haven't seen a side that resembles what we saw last season. That side being directed and composed by Bruno Fernandes, and it appears to me that teams have watched what he's done, stood on him, not given him time, and that's stopped United.

"It was really worrying. These things don't happen every day with Manchester United. Although it was an empty stadium, the faces you could see around the stadium looked really, really worried."

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Goals, goals, goals... PL's bizarre start explained

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A round-up of matchweek four's Premier League fixtures

Sky Sports' Gerard Brand:

"I think there's two main factors behind the number of goals we're seeing, and that's fitness and the lack of fans. It's abundantly clear that some Premier League sides aren't anywhere near match fitness. Whether that's the schedule, a lack of pre-season, the short gap since the Europa League and Champions league finishing, whatever.

"Then people may ask: well why is there so much attacking running, attacking play, if players are unfit? If you've ever played football, you need far more energy to run back without the ball than you do to run forward with it. When you or your team have the ball, you run on adrenaline, you run on the excitement that a goal might be scored, or the pure enjoyment of having the ball at your feet. When you run back without the ball, you essentially run on a tank that is emptying so much faster than usual these days.

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A season like no other

(Per game) 19/20 20/21
Goals 2.7 3.8
Away goals 1.2 2.0
Tackles 32.6 30
Duels 224 206
Fouls conceded 21.4 23.4

"If we look at this season compared to last, players are making fewer tackles per game, getting involved in far fewer duels, around 20 fewer per game, they're conceding more fouls, so there's less jockeying, and games are resembling basketball matches. We're seeing 3.8 goals per game so far this season, it was 2.7 last season. And away goals have gone from 1.2 per game to 2 per game!

"Then you've got the fan element... fans keep you honest during a game. That happens in a few ways - they push you to run back and make tackles and they stop you taking risks or making stupid mistakes. The idea that 40,000 people might groan because your through ball is a yard out, is terrifying.

"So I think we're going to keep seeing this, and I genuinely think the sides who are the fittest, and the most cynical defensive sides, the most afraid, I guess is what I'm trying to say, they are going to be successful this season!"

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