Manchester United prevented Liverpool from recapturing first place in the Premier League with a goalless draw at Anfield on Sunday.
The result extended the Red Devils’ unbeaten league run to 12 games stretching all the way back to the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, but after winning three of their previous four, their momentum has somewhat stalled.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side remain three points clear of the Reds at the top of the table but it was a game that utterly failed to live up to the pre-match hype and build-up.
However, their remarkable turnaround in form after a difficult start to the season has since led to some, including club legend Paul Scholes, proclaiming them as worthy title challengers and, in that regard, this was a significant milestone, as they kept a clean sheet against a side that have scored the highest amount of goals this season so far.
It was a game dominated by the defences that ultimately came down to one kick. Paul Pogba came closest to securing a vital three points from close range, only to be denied by the outstretched arms of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson in the dying stages of the game. Perhaps his late miss could prove costly in the title race as the two teams find themselves separated by a mere three points.
Apart from that, the Frenchman will have done himself no harm whatsoever with his latest display, earning the following review from The Manchester Evening News: ‘an unusual choice on the right-hand side but performed respectably. Was never going to boss the game in that role but almost won it.’
Everything Pogba does either on the pitch or off it brings attention; attention which brings scrutiny when the focus should be on Harry Maguire instead – for all the right reasons.
The club captain was a colossal at the back for Solskjaer’s side in his 17th top-flight appearance of the season.
Having arrived at Old Trafford from Leicester City for a world record fee for a defender in 2019, the England international hasn’t had the easiest of starts at the Theatre of Dreams but he’s finally starting to look the part at United, and slowly but surely, he’s living up to his colossal price tag.
Solskjaer has struggled to find a defensive partner for Maguire, who earns around £189,000-per-week at Old Trafford, with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly battling to bag the spot and there are still question marks over both. However, the club legend’s decision to start Lindelof alongside the captain paid off almost immediately.
Maguire blocked more shots (5) and made more clearances (6) than any other player on the pitch, showing he put up a strong fight in the defence as he largely neutralised Liverpool’s attack, as per SofaScore.
The 27-year-old won every battle there was to win at the back, winning five from five duels overall (100%), and it was a dominant performance from the skipper. His control at the back and on the ball set the tone for the rest of the match as he took 53 touches of the ball and tried to spray long balls (4) over the top, the second-highest amount out of any United player, which shows he was a useful asset in attack as well.
Such was his level of dominance that Jurgen Klopp’s side only managed three shots on target from a whopping 17 attempts as they resorted to several hopeful potshots.
It’s the kind of performance that United fans have recently come to expect from the club captain, and there’s no doubting the fact that Solskjaer will be delighted with his defensive shift.
AND in other news, Woodward must sanction Man Utd swoop for West Ham’s Declan Rice…