Score of Liverpool vs. Manchester United: The Reds top the Premier League table with a commanding win at Anfield - New Style Motorsport

Liverpool rose to the top of the Premier League by easily overcoming Manchester United in a 4-0 win at Anfield on Tuesday.

Now leading Manchester City by two points, Jurgen Klopp’s side never seemed to see a match against their great rivals as a cause for concern in their quest for a 20th title. Instead, the Liverpool manager might simply enjoy watching his players put the sword to a United side that delivered a first 45 minutes of football that will rank among the worst in recent history.

Luis Diaz took just five minutes to open the scoring, finishing off a Mohamed Salah shot after United unraveled with a simple triangle pass down their left flank. Midway through the first period, the lead doubled, with Joel Matip and Diaz combining in midfield before a short pass from Sadio Mane allowed Salah to score his first goal for the club since March 12.

Diaz would have the ball in the net from an offside position in the first half, in which United failed to register a shot and completed fewer passes in the attacking third (three) than eight Liverpool players managed individually.

The second half wasn’t so excruciatingly bad, as the introduction of Jadon Sancho brought more off-the-ball pressure and attacking drive from the visitors, who have conceded nine goals against Liverpool this season without scoring once. But just when it seemed the hosts were reeling, Mane scored a cross from Diaz, meaning all three starting forwards finished the night with an assist and a goal.

That symmetry was spoiled in the 85th minute when substitute Diogo Jota took Hannibal Mejiri out of the pocket, passing through Salah; with a clipped finish deflected off Aaron Wan-Bissaka, he became the first player to score five goals against United in one season. It is one of a series of statistics that serve to emphasize the chasm between the league leaders and United, one that does not appear to be closing any time soon.

‘A waste of space’

This is how Gary Neville described the first half of Manchester United on British television. You couldn’t help but feel that he was taking some hits. Against their biggest rivals with a top four spot on the line, Ralf Rangnick’s team gave up without a fight. It was Homer Simpson letting Drederick Tatum beat him up over and over again.

Or maybe it wasn’t. Because at least then “The Southern Dandy” had something resembling a plan. There was no sign of anything comparable from the visitors at Anfield. If you at least intend to weather a flurry of strikes from Liverpool, you can get organized with a clear idea of ​​what you want to do without the ball. United did not keep it compact. They didn’t press.

Switching to back three might have flummoxed them, but is Harry Maguire really beyond understanding what he should do if he opts to track down Sadio Mane in midfield? Don’t let him turn and give him time to pick up the pass. You would have been taught this decades ago. And while Rangnick wasn’t blameless in this fiasco, he really doesn’t need to tell them to do the absolute basics. From there, Phil Jones seemed like what he was, a player who hadn’t had anything in recent years that could prepare him to find himself alone to defend Trent Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Diaz.

Liverpool’s second goal was a masterpiece, but you couldn’t help but feel that it was marred a bit by the complete lack of pressure the Celestes were putting on the ball. This was a training exercise, the kind of move you can put together when no one is trying to take you down.

Apart from David de Gea, there was no fight. None of the 11 players seemed to have any idea what kind of plan they were playing. That’s on Rangnick. But the sheer lack of intensity and effort in the first half (he improved from lower base in the second) is in a group of players who seem to have retired for the season. It seemed that all they could do to spoil Liverpool’s night was to play so poorly as to take some of the shine off their victory.

Thiago hits the rhythm in a dominant display

United couldn’t even handle that. Liverpool may not have been tested, but they certainly set out to challenge themselves. How else to explain the eye-catching excellence of players like Alexander-Arnold, Diaz and Mane, who treated this game as the ideal time to stretch their creative muscles.

No one seemed to be enjoying the moment more than Thiago, certainly in the best form he has been since moving to the Premier League and perhaps even longer. After half an hour of play, he had created three chances. It was too easy for him. Every pass he delivered to his teammates was perfectly timed, given the time to look up and assess his options, he always chose the right one.

This was the perfect tempo setting. When Liverpool needed to speed up, he did. On the rare occasions when they just needed a bit of possession after a period of pressure from United, he ensured the safety of the ball. Even when the hosts got sloppy around the time, he got on very well. That cool head will be vital in the coming weeks as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to keep the pressure on City. Thiago will not let you down.

The end of Pogba and United?

It will be a few days before it becomes clear whether Paul Pogba will be able to play for Manchester United again this season or whether any issues that forced him to retire after just 10 minutes will see him sidelined for the next month. Certainly, though, you could imagine this is a fitting end to what has felt like five wasted years for the World Cup winner.

Boos greeted his exit from the fray, some perhaps from United fans who have long since lost patience with a player who has struggled to find consistency in his performances. They were bringing back the best young midfielder in the world at their club after learning his trade at Juventus. But his bosses seemed unaware that the Italian serial champions had surrounded him with a quality of a higher level than Nemanja Matic, another player out for the summer.

Pogba is far from to blame for what has been an unsuccessful stay at Old Trafford, but one cannot shake the feeling that those responsible for building this team have never put him in a position to excel.

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