“There were a lot of good things and some mistakes around the goals. If you want to win here you have to be absolutely top and we were not.”
“For the first goal we had no protection, we wanted it too much. Things like this should not happen but they can happen. We had too many players in a receiving position.”
“We can take things out of this game; we try to learn from every game.”
That’s what the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the match against arch-rivals Manchester United, who knocked them out of the FA Cup last night at Old Trafford. Before the clash at Old Trafford, Klopp and the Reds experienced bitterness against Burnley at Anfield and dropped points against the Red Devils at the same venue in the Premier League. It is testing times for Klopp and in every match; he seems to lose the grip.
Liverpool’s backline is letting them down.
24th January 1999: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comes off the bench to score a late winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round.
24th January 2021: Bruno Fernandes comes off the bench to score a later winner against Liverpool in the FA cup 4th round.
This is crazy ? pic.twitter.com/yKgyTxqVZx
— Aidan Walsh ? (@AidanWalshMUFC) January 25, 2021
It was almost unthinkable last season, but things change, and this season, Liverpool needed to sign one or two quality center-backs keeping in mind the unpredictability and hectic schedule.
When the match entered three minutes into the second half, Mason Greenwood produced a diagonal pass for Marcus Rashford, which Rhys Williams rumbled back to cut out, but instead, scuffed a miskicked clearance that ran straight into Rashford’s path, leaving him a clear run on goal.
Rashford made it 2-1.
Williams looked distraught.
Gotta feel for Rhys Williams, Klopp got it completely wrong. Left a slow, inexperienced centre back against Rashford and Shaw, two of our best players. Hung out to dry at 19. pic.twitter.com/3dgViIgmZO
— Sam ??? (@CheekyGreenwood) January 25, 2021
Liverpool equalized, but went behind again and in the end, that scuffed clearance became decisive for Liverpool.
A tie between Liverpool and Manchester United would always offer a lot of excitement and last night it lived up to the billing.
Manchester United were the better and dominant force, while Liverpool simply struggled to remain composed – neither able to control the ball or deal with the pace of United.
Liverpool have paid a heavy price for failing to replace Dejan Lovren when they sold him last July. The irony is that the Croatian left in pursuit of regular game-time when if he had stayed put he would have played 40-plus matches this season. #awlfc [@JamesPearceLFC]
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) January 25, 2021
With the FA Cup of this season done and dusted, Klopp might focus more on the title challenge in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League, but just a solitary victory in the last seven matches does not give a very good story.
The Reds need to start winning and not let the opportunities slip.
The game was just 18 minutes old when a very clever movement from Roberto Firmino, who dropped off the front and hit a pinpoint pass into Mohamed Salah, whose chip over Dean Handerson hinted of a Liverpool return to form.
The window is open for another week and Mike Gordon and Michael Edwards need to reassess. It would be irresponsible if Liverpool head into the rest of the season without bolstering their backline. Liverpool can’t afford not to dip into the market. #awlfc [@JamesPearceLFC]
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) January 25, 2021
Firmino drew a foul from Scott McTominay, but Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick sailed over and moments later United equalized – The ball went to Rashford on the counter and as Salah backed off, he turned infield and lifted a 40-yard diagonal to Greenwood on the right, the ball barely missing James Milner’s head. From here the right-foot strike gave Alisson no chance.
Liverpool posed threat – Curtis Jones pick-pocketed McTominay in traffic, the movement swept left, Robertson lobbed the ball over, but there was Shaw to head away.
After the break, Williams committed a blunder and it was compensated by Salah.
Being a Liverpool fan it is never a good feeling to see the Reds beaten by Manchester United. The absence of big @VirgilvDijk is felt in each match. Most of the teams look to sign scorers, which is important, but quality center backs and defensive midfielders are very important.
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) January 25, 2021
Henderson fed a goal-kick to Harry Maguire, who found Cavani in midfield, but he carelessly ceded possession to Milner. The ball went left to Firmino, his delivery was dummied by an on-running Milner, and Salah again made no mistake.
Klopp brought on Sadio Mane for Georginio Wijnaldum, a move Ole Gunne Solskjær answered by swapping Donny Van de Beek and Greenwood for Fred and Fernandes.
Pogba has been enjoying his time in the United short and last night his influence was evident as he skated down the right but the midfielder spooned the ball into Alisson’s gloves. He wandered around and always looked to exploit the spaces, which the Reds left in the midfield – Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were missed so badly.
For both of United´s first 2 goals, the transition from defence to attack started from Pogba pressing Liverpool players & creating a ball recovery situation for United. A brilliant display of desire & pressing from Pogba. pic.twitter.com/y4cHFOLYzk
— Eric Laurie (@EricLaurie) January 24, 2021
Edinson Cavani won a free-kick under Fabinho’s challenge, who was playing as the center-back and up stepped Fernandes to drill home the winner.
United celebrate after the final whistle leaving plenty to ponder about his backline.
I tried changing my Twitter password to LiverpoolDefence and Twitter is telling me it's too weak.
— Quesi Mingle (@Quesimingle) January 24, 2021
Rashford in particular caused Trent Alexander-Arnold all sorts of problems down the United left as he worked well with Luke Shaw to overwhelm the Liverpool right-back. Andy Robertson lacked the sharpness, Fabinho did everything to c0ver the 19-year-old Williams, sadly, and it was not enough.
Williams never matched the physicality of the Manchester United forwards and the skill to shut down a threat. Yes, he is just 19 and it is always too much expect from him, but again, in this season, where the schedule is hectic and injuries would show-up the back-ups should always need to be ready and give their best because opportunities don’t come every day in clubs like Liverpool.