Liverpool were unable to break down a stubborn Manchester United side as Jose Mourinho’s defensive game-plan paid dividends at Anfield. In a forgettable Premier League encounter that betrayed the extensive pre-match hype, David de Gea pulled off a stunning save from Joel Matip to record his seventh clean sheet of the campaign.
The home side controlled possession but were wasteful in front of goal and had to settle for a share of the spoils. Here are three talking points to emerge as English football’s two most successful clubs went head-to-head.
Unapologetic Mourinho achieves his objective
There was more than an element of deja-vu here. Twelve months ago, Liverpool and United played out a goalless draw at Anfield after Mourinho had set out his stall to frustrate Jurgen Klopp’s men. It made for a dour spectacle, but the Portuguese was unapologetic. This match was a carbon copy.
Once again, Mourinho was happy to take any flak that came his way for his side being completely devoid of attacking intent. For him, it was only the result that mattered and on that front, the United boss could leave Anfield with his objective achieved. It might make him unpopular, but if his side go on to lift the title by a single point, United supporters will not complain.
Familiar failings for profligate Liverpool
Liverpool had no fewer than 19 shots over the course of the 90 minutes, but only five were on target. In many ways, it was a microcosm of their season.
For all their possession and flair, the Reds just aren’t testing opposing goalkeepers enough. When they do, invariably they are finding them to be in inspirational form. De Gea is one of the best – if not the best – keepers on the planet and he further enhanced his reputation with a sensational stop to deny Joel Matip.
However, that save should not overshadow the fact that Liverpool were once again found wanting in front of goal. Even with Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane injured, Klopp has an embarrassment of attacking riches but has yet to discover the winning formula.
Is Romelu Lukaku a flat-track bully?
Despite the nature of the game, Mourinho would surely have expected more from his £75 million striker. Romelu Lukaku has been in scintillating form this season but he was completely ineffective at Anfield. Seventeen minutes had elapsed before the Belgian registered his first touch and aside from one shot that was well saved by Simon Mignolet, he offered nothing.
Lukaku is becoming known as a flat-track bully and it’s easy to see why. Since 2014, he has scored only five times in 36 games against the Premier League’s ‘big six’. Although his statistics this season are impressive, and he will undoubtedly go on to score plenty more goals, it is in such matches where he needs to prove his worth.
Liverpool’s reported £70m and Keylor Navas deal for Sadio Mane could improve team
If Liverpool’s reported pursuit came off, could they be better off without their forward?
Real Madrid are reportedly interested in signing Liverpool‘s Senegalese speedster Sadio Mane this summer, and are said to have offered terms the Reds should seriously consider, according to Diario Gol.
The European champions are reportedly offering a staggering 80 million euros (£70 million) and their current number one, Keylor Navas, for Mane’s services. And the question bears asking: would Liverpool be better off as a team accepting the terms, considering their reported pursuit of Lorenzo Insigne? (TransferMarketWeb).
The suggested fee would put Liverpool in with a great chance of landing the Napoli superstar, while pocketing a fair amount to improve other areas of the team.
Klopp undoubtedly needs to resolve the goalkeeper situation at Liverpool, with Lloris Karius showing he isn’t up to the required standard at such a huge club.
And, so far, linked stoppers are being touted for ridiculous fees, with the likes of Jasper Cillessen and Alisson supposedly sitting on price-tags well in excess of £50 million for their services.
Navas could represent the best option for Liverpool in their current predicament then, and although losing Mane doesn’t bear thinking about for fans, if the brilliant Insigne can be brought to Anfield, the club must surely consider Real’s offer.
The point needs stressing though, Insigne is vital in any deal, and if Napoli aren’t serious about moving the 27-year-old on, the Reds should dismiss any talk of Mane leaving this summer.
Liverpool fans want Ivan Rakitic following brilliant performance against Argentina
Liverpool fans want yet another top midfielder at the club this summer.
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic was nothing short of sensational last night in Croatia’s 3-0 dismantling of Argentina, and Liverpool fans have taken to social media to commend the midfielder, with many asserting that Jurgen Klopp should sign him this summer.
Luka Modric was in his usual scintillating form in the centre of the park, but Rakitic was equally as good, and the two essentially ran the game for the whole duration, as Argentina scratched their heads for a way to get into the game.
The 30-year-old rounded off a truly dominant display by slotting home into an empty net from close range, after Mateo Kovacic unselfishly played him in, but it was nothing less than Rakatic’s performance deserved on the night.
Reds fans, having already secured the high-profile signings of Naby Keita and Fabinho, took to Twitter to suggest that the club should complete a hat-trick of midfield acquisitions this summer and bring the £60 million rated man to Anfield.
Here’s the reaction:
Him and rakitic… must admit i would love rakitic at #LFC
— Brian Graham (@BrianGraham17) June 21, 2018
I would have took less money for Coutinho if it meant we would have got Rakitic as part of the deal. I think he is hugely under appreciated at Barca. Brilliant tonight again.
— Adam Deasy (@DeasyAdam98) June 21, 2018
Rakiti? was outstanding
— RedRightHandLFC (@RedRightHandLFC) June 21, 2018
Hey Liverpool, I think Rakitic may be for sale in the summer.
— Nadya (@nadyaissa) June 21, 2018
— Rob (@RT3960) June 21, 2018
— Morten Liland (@Mor10lil) June 21, 2018
As for Rakiti?, if Barça we’re looking rid of him, I’d take him at #LFC in a heartbeat
— Paddy McCouldBeWorse (@paddymccleery) June 21, 2018
— Ahmed ? (@KingDivock) June 21, 2018
Sign Rakitic @LFC
— Ahmad (@Lallannaa) June 21, 2018
It has to be said that the logistics of completing a deal for the Barcelona man, who was ever-present in the side last season, make any serious movement unlikely on Liverpool’s front. But many are starting to regret the club’s decision to turn their nose up at the prospect of signing him, in a make-weight deal for Philippe Coutinho last summer.
Jurgen Klopp should bring in Emil Forsberg to replace Adam Lallana
The Swedish star is keen on leaving RB Leipzig this summer and Liverpool have been linked in the past.
It seems Sweden midfielder Emil Forsberg has made his mind up over his RB Leipzig future. The talented playmaker has told Fotbolskanalen in his homeland:
“I’m ready for the next big step. That’s going to be very interesting.
“I am in dialogue with RB and always had a good relationship with the club.
“I have the dream of playing for the strongest clubs in the world.”
Those words certainly suggest he is on his way. Plenty of teams have been linked with the player recently.
That seems a little high and Liverpool could surely get the player cheaper.
It is definitely a deal Liverpool should consider. Forsberg is a similar talent to Adam Lallana.
Capable of playing anywhere along the front behind the front-man he relies on his cunning, technique and brains too make up for his lack of pace.
In fact, when watching highlights of the pair in action, the similarities are uncanny.
However, Forsberg is four years younger than Lallana and the ex-Southampton man’s recent injury record has been awful.
Undoubtedly, Lallana is a magnificent talent. He is also a favourite of Jurgen Klopp’s, often considered the German’s teacher’s pet.
But Liverpool simply cannot rely on the 30-year-old to stay fit anymore. Klopp loves him, but he would love Forsberg just as much.
It might be time for Liverpool to trade in for a newer model.