Following on from the inexplicable 4-0 defeat to Brentford, Manchester United had some questions to answer against Liverpool; and they did so with aplomb.
Amid all the fan unrest regarding the club’s ownership, Manchester United elected to announce the signing of combative midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid prior to kick-off. As expected, this went down well with the Old Trafford faithful.
Erik ten Hag made four changes to the side that got trounced 4-0 by Brentford. Cristiano Ronaldo was replaced by Anthony Elanga; Harry Maguire was dropped in favour of Raphael Varane; Tyrell Malacia came in for his first start in United colours whilst Fred was replaced with Scott McTominay.
Jurgen Klopp made three changes to his Liverpool side, Roberto Firmino for the suspended Darwin Nunez, James Milner for Fabinho and Joe Gomez for Nat Phillips.
An improved performance
The improved atmosphere seemed to spark life into Erik ten Hag’s men as they shot out of the gates early on. Quickly, United spotted a weakness in the Liverpool backline, making Anthony Elanga run at Trent Alexander-Arnold. It was the Swede who had the first chance of the game. McTominay released captain for the day Bruno Fernandes, who found space to slide the ball across to an unmarked Elanga.
Unfortunately, the youngster’s curling shot smashed back off the post.
Manchester United continued in the ascendency and in the 16th minute they grabbed a well-deserved opener. Once again it was Elanga finding space on the left and squaring the ball to fellow winger Jadon Sancho. In a mesmeric display of skill, the former Dortmund man fooled both James Milner and Allison in goal for an easy tap-in.
United continued to defend resolutely. Both Malacia and Diogo Dalot were magnificent in nullifying the wide threat of Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz. However, it was under-fire man Lisandro Martinez who had the most impressive half. Most importantly blocking a mishit Bruno Fernandes clearance on the goal line to keep the lead intact.
A strong display front to back
Slightly surprisingly, the Erik ten Hag elected to withdraw Anthony Elanga for Anthony Martial at the half, in doing so the Frenchman made his first appearance of the season. All doubt was put to rest quickly when he was integral in United’s second goal. Just eight minutes after the break Martial released fellow forward Marcus Rashford on a swift counterattack, who smashed passed a despairing Allison.
The game wasn’t over though as Mohamed Salah pulled one back for the visitors with 10 to play. Following a good David de Gea save, Mo Salah was there to nod in the rebound. United’s new signings Malacia and Martinez were both fantastic. It was an astute and aggressive performance from both defenders. United managed to see out a nervy final flurry for Liverpool to secure a much needed three points.
The result puts United in good stead as they prepare to take on Southampton on August 27th.