Liverpool vs Manchester United: 5 things we learned as Reds remain unbeaten

Liverpool were made to work hard, but had the quality to see off Manchester United with a 2-0 win in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.

A fast-paced start to the game saw both teams happy to push forward, but Liverpool opened the scoring almost without effort less than 15 minutes in. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won a corner, Trent Alexander-Arnold swung it over and Virgil van Dijk rose highest to plant a header past David de Gea.

The Reds then had two further goals disallowed before half-time; Roberto Firmino’s curled strike was ruled out for a foul on De Gea, before Gini Wijnaldum was flagged offside after sliding home at the end of a great team move.

After half-time the hosts started strongly as they looked to seal the points, with Jordan Henderson going closest with a strike against the post, before Mohamed Salah eventually wrapped up the points in injury time.

Here are five things we learned from the big game at Anfield.

Fortress Anfield remains impregnable

Man United may be able to lay claim to being the only team to stopping Liverpool securing a Premier League win this season, but they couldn’t go one step further and do it away from home.

So far at Anfield this season for the Reds, it’s played 12, won 12 – a quite astonishing record which has propelled them well clear at the top.

This latest shut-out also means it’s four consecutive clean sheets at home for Jurgen Klopp and his side, with just nine goals conceded at home all season.

Liverpool dominated chances and possession on the day, even if United did enjoy a couple of shorter stretches where they themselves looked a danger.

It was ultimately not enough to stop the league’s best side, who have come through three successive difficult matches with three wins and three clean sheets.

United’s set-piece concerns

Van Dijk scored the opener for Liverpool (EPA)

The ease with which Van Dijk strode through the box and rose unchallenged, to plant his header into the Anfield Road end net, was a worrying sight for those of a United persuasion.

And it wasn’t anything new, either.

That strike made it eight goals conceded by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team from corners this season – no club in the Premier League has conceded more from that situation.

In a season where much remains to be improved and outright fixed, their susceptibility to routine attacks on their goal in this manner is a fairly basic concern which should have been addressed long before now.

Robertson vs. Wan-Bissaka

With United opting to essentially double-up on Mo Salah with both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams down their left, the interesting battle quickly emerged on the other flank.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemed initially to be happy to press Andy Robertson high upfield and deny him the chance to get involved in Liverpool’s attacking third – but it didn’t last long.

Twice Robertson played one-twos around United’s right-back and strode past him easily, with the former Crystal Palace starlet looking cumbersome and incapable of keeping up on the turn.

United’s big-money signing failed to track either Robertson or, later, Sadio Mane particularly well, with many of the Reds’ best moments coming down that left channel.

Missed chances

For all the quality of the individuals on the pitch, there were a quite incredible amount of missed gilt-edged opportunities to score.

In the first half, Andreas Pereira spurned a great chance to equalise within minutes of the opener, as he stretched but failed to make contact with a ball across the face of goal.

There were the two ruled out goals, of course, as well as Van Dijk’s header which did count in the first 45 minutes – but after the break both teams had fantastic sights of goal.

Mohamed Salah miskicked from just eight yards out when any real contact should really have doubled Liverpool’s lead; Jordan Henderson’s long-range strike was tipped onto the post, Sadio Mane missed a couple of chances from the left and Anthony Martial blazed United’s best chance over after cleverly getting past Alexander-Arnold.

Salah eventually made sure those misses didn’t cost dearly, with a fine moment of composure under pressure from Daniel James.

Liverpool’s lead

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring (Getty Images)

After both Manchester City and Leicester City dropped points across this weekend, Liverpool had the chance to show once more that they were the Premier League’s team most capable of producing title-winning consistency.

Thanks to Alisson’s quick thinking and Salah’s coolness late on, they finally put the seal on that exact point in stoppage time.

It’s 16 points clear for the Reds now at the top of the table, and a massive 30 points between themselves and their fallen foes United.

Coincidentally, it’s also 30 points which remains now the magic marker for Liverpool: add that many more to their tally and they will, finally, be Premier League champions.

As with the three points at Anfield, it seems a matter of eventual inevitability.

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