In Depth

Liverpool vs Man Utd: 'Difficult' stalemate suits Mourinho

Reds boss Klopp admits United were 'stronger' but says that the game will not live long in the memory

Liverpool 0 Manchester United 0. 

There were no goals at Anfield and precious little excitement as Manchester United held Liverpool to a goalless draw in what had been sold as the biggest game of the season to date. 

Both managers had talked a good game before Monday night's encounter but after 90 minutes of largely forgettable football there was little to say. No doubt Jose Mourinho was the happier of the pair, telling reporters: "It is a result that stops a direct opponent getting three points at home, so not a bad result."

The United manager said it had been a "difficult" game for both teams, but especially Liverpool: "For longer periods it was more difficult for them than us. We controlled the game not just tactically but the emotion of the game, that was probably the quietest Anfield I had [experienced] and I was expecting it to be the other way."

If the Liverpool fans had little to cheer then so did the United faithful as their team parked the proverbial bus on Anfield's famous turf. One shot on target, one corner, and just 35 per cent of possession, United's lowest such statistic in a Premier League match since Opta began recording the data in 2003-04.

"The kind of defence is difficult to play," conceded Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. "The man-marking is really difficult, they are stronger than us. We wasted energy in the first half for nothing. The second half was better and with fresher legs in second half we could have created more."

Klopp said he was "not frustrated" with the result - which leaves the Reds in fourth place, two points behind leaders Manchester City - but added: "No-one will show this game in ten or 20 years... we could have played better."

It's unlikely that anyone will want to see a re-run of this game in ten or 20 days, let alone years, such was the dearth of drama. Mourinho sent out his team to disrupt Liverpool's pressing game, and his players did as instructed. Ander Herrera epitomised the visitors' endeavour, harrying the Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the Liverpool midfield and never allowing them to create any worthwhile attacks.

The Reds did manage to find a way through the United midfield in the second-half but goalkeeper David de Gea saved well from Emre Can's low shot and then from Coutinho's 25-yard strike. Antonio Valencia also closed down Firmino as he honed in on goal with a tackle that characterised the commitment of United. 

"People expected us to come here and be really in trouble, which we were not," said Mourinho, who then mocked the media for building up Liverpool into world-beaters. "They are not the last wonder of the world like you like to say they are."

Liverpool vs Man Utd LIVE: De Gea the hero as Mourinho thwarts Klopp

17 October

FULL TIME: Two excellent saves from Man United keeper David de Gea earned his side a share of the spoils at Anfield in a match that Liverpool cannot honestly say they deserved to win.

The second half was marginally more entertaining than the first as Liverpool shook off their lethargy and applied some pressure to the visitors, who remained content to sit back and defend in numbers.

Liverpool went close on the hour mark when Emre Can showed great strength in the box to force De Gea into a fine low save to his right.

Ten minutes later, with the introduction of Adam Lallana adding impetus to Liverpool's attacks, the Spanish keeper pulled off a flying stop to thwart Philippe Coutinho, whose 20-yard missile seemed destined for the top corner.

Liverpool had another fine chance minutes later when Roberto Firmino was played through, but Antonio Valencia made a great tackle just as the Brazilian was about to shoot.

In the end Liverpool were unable to break down United's defensive wall and can even count themselves lucky not to have conceded, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a hash of a free header early in the second half.

If the game was supposed to showcase the drama and excitement of the Premier League then it fell short, and Jurgen Klopp will be bitterly disappointed his side were unable to dictate to the visitors and play the game at their own pace. But Jose Mourinho, whose side clearly came to defend, will be happy with United's efforts.

93 mins: The game ends with Liverpool going backwards and Karius then hoofing the ball into touch. It's been a disppointing evening for the home side, but that's exactly what United were looking for judging from the way they approached the game.

It's the first draw between the sides in five years and only the second goalless draw in their past 49 meetings.

92 mins: Ashley Young takes forever to leave the pitch as he is replaced by Luke Shaw, much to the annoyance of the home fans.

90 mins: Ibrahimovic and Fellaini are both booked as United continue to stymie Liverpool's efforts to attack in the final seconds.

We will have three added minutes to see if either side can conjure up a goal.

88 mins: With three minutes to go it is United applying the pressure, but they lack any momentum going forward having spent the last 30 minutes on the back foot. 

84 mins: More Liverpool pressure ends with the ball flying across the United box and ending up at the feet of Clyne who's shot is blocked.

And Liverpool are then denied by a brilliant tackle from Valencia in the box after Firmino was put though on goal by an outrageous flick from Coutinho. The Reds are the team most likely now, that was a wonderful move.

Firmino then makes way for Divock Origi. Milner is also off with Moreno replacing him at left back.

81 mins: Manchester United win their first corner of the match after good work from Valencia down the right. Liverpool's weakness is set pieces and United win the ball in the box but Fellaini heads wide.

79 mins: Rooney's main role in the final ten minutes may be defensive as Liverpool continue to pile forward, but still they can't fashion the all important goal that would surely now win them the match.

77 mins: Here comes Wayne Rooney. He replaces Marcus Rashford. Can the Everton old boy sink Liverpool?

76 mins: Can United hold their nerve as we approach next-goal-wins territory? A slip from Blind almost lets Mane in, but Bailly covers the danger as he tries to feed Firmino.

And the Brazilian is narrowly offside seconds later as he goes through on De Gea.

72 mins: Where did that come from? Coutinho produces a vicious 20 yard shot from nothing and De Gea makes a spectacular flying save to keep his team on terms.

The ball was heading straight for the top corner there and De Gea showed great athleticism to turn it away for a corner. He's made two great saves tonight and despite their lack of control Liverpool can count themselves unlucky not to be in front.

68 mins: There's a nasty collision between Milner and Pogba, as the Liverpool man swings his boot at the ball just as Pogba is stepping in to control it. There was no intent, and fortunately both players are unhurt.

That may not have been a foul, but some niggle is creeping into the game as Herrera gives awway yet another free kick.

66 mins: For the first time tonight United resort to hoofing the ball downfield to ease the pressure. Liverpool are in a different gear all of a sudden and Coutinho slips the ball to Lallana in the box, but he is shepherded out of play.

64 mins: Lallana has a point to prove here and Liverpool look better for his presence. He hasn't brought his shooting boots, though, as he blazes wildly wide from 20 yards.

Liverpool follow that up with another pacy move involving Sane and Coutinho. They look a lot more lively now with players switching positions and making better runs.

60 mins: Here we go! David de Gea produces a wonderful save to deny Can as he holds off three defenders in the box and fires off a low shot to the keeper's left. But the United man show's fine reactions and a strong wrist to keep it out. Will that energise Liverpool? The crowd as certainly come to life.

Adam Lallana is on for Sturridge.

58 mins: Herrera is furious as he is penalised for an inocuous coming together with Coutinho outside the box. But Liverpool's attempt at a clever free kick goes horribly wrong as Coutinho tries to run at the United defence and loses control of the ball.

Klopp has seen enough and is about to send on Lallana.

55 mins: A huge let off for Liverpool as United fashion the best moment of the match so far! Pogba skips past a couple of Liverpool players on the edge of the box and delivers a cross to Ibrahimovic at the back post, but the Swede misdirects his header and Liverpool survive, but they really should be behind.

51 mins: Liverpool finally get into the United box but Mane is crowded off the ball and ends up fouling Herrera. This does not look very encouraging for the home side.

50 mins: Liverpool goalkeeper Karius looked shaky in the first half and he makes a terrible hash of a clearance, that goes straight to Rashford. He feeds Ibrahimovic but the Swede is offside. That was a lucky escape for the Reds. 

48 mins: United begin the second half where they ended the first, in the Liverpool half. Valencia gets down the right but his cross is cleared.

Then Liverpool attack down the same flanks and Firmino finally gets into some space but sees his cross cleared.

46 mins:  We're underway once again, as Liverpool kick off. No changes from either side.

Klopp angry: The Liverpool boss is out early after half time and he has that slightly crazed look in his eyes. The paintwork in the home dressing room may be peeling.

HALF TIME:  Liverpool endured a frustrating opening 45 minutes against arch-rivals Man United at Anfield as the visitors effectively snuffed out the home side's attacking plans.

Jose Mourinho's well-drilled outfit refused to offer Liverpool's playmakers any space in which to operate as Pogba, Herrera and Fellaini comfortably won the midfield battle.

Liverpool only fashioned one chance in the half, but Firmino headed straight at De Gea after latching onto a cross from Henderson.

Perhaps the moment that best summed up the first half came when Liverpool won a corner, and despite winning the header were forced backwards by United and the ball was soon back with Reds keeper Karius, much to the crowd's frustration.

At the other end, United pressed but they lacked the creativity to break down Liverpool's defence, and their only sniffs of goal came from crosses. One palmed away by Karius and the other missed by the keeper.

On points the first half would have gone to United, but neither side has yet to land a proper punch.

45 mins: It's a measure of the game so far that Anfield rises as one at the possibility that Mane could run into space. But United block out the danger and make it through to half time unscathed.

However, Ashley Young manages to talk himself into a yellow card just before the whistle goes and Mourinho stalks down the tunnel no doubt delighted at his side's performance.

44 mins:  There's more of the same from both sides as hald time looms. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp cuts a frustrated figure on the touchline.

But finally the crowd have something to cheer as Eric Baily goes into the book after a challenge on Sturridge. Liverpool have a free kick 40 yards out on the left, and Coutinho delivers it straight into the arms of De Gea.

38 mins: Manchester United show off their well drilled defence as Liverpool probe for an opening on the halfway line.

United are set up with a line of six across the back and two terriers in Herrera and Fellaini in midield. Even Rashford and Ibrahimovic are doing their bit. There is no way through that for Liverpool.

35 mins: Liverpool finally win a corner, but the ball ends up at the feet of Karius within seconds as United force the home side backwards. You have to say that so far this has been vintage Mourinho.

32 mins: Danger for Liverpool as Young sends in cross and Karius makes a meal of it, flapping and missing. But he did enough to put off Ibrahimovic, before the whistle goes.

30 mins: Finally. A chance for Liverpool after a period of pressure. Henderson floats the ball into the United box and Firmino gets his head to the ball, but his effort is straight at De Gea.

That seems to have added some spice to the game and ref Tyaylor talks to both skippers after a flurry of fouls. Liverpool may be waking from their slumbers.

25 mins: Danger in the box from United. Rashford gets behind Milner and fires in a low cross which Karius does well to palm the ball away. That was the closest we have come to a goal so far and the Anfield crowd seems chastened.

Only three percent of the game has been played in the United third of the field. That is not what the fans wanted to see.

23 mins: Liverpool finally muster a shot, but it's not much of one. Emre Can bursts through midfield and lets fly from 25 yards, but it sails harmlessly over the bar.

21 mins: This is not what the Liverpool faithful ordered. United are dominating possession and enjoy a long period of possession in the Reds' half. Signigicantly, though, they cannot pierce the home defence, but the visitors are on top in midfield.

18 mins: Karius is forced into a save of sorts as a shot from outside the box balloons off Young and into the Liverpool keeper's arms.

Then Klopp rushes off his bench as Coutinho is penalised for a trip on Herrera. United take the free kick and the ball breaks for Ibrahomovic in space outside the box. His shot is tame and once again Karius saves comfortably.

14 mins: Unsurprisingly United are defending in numbers, and have ten men behind the ball as Milner and Firmino try to fashion an opening down the left, but it's to no avail.

United then try to build but cannot get amongst the Liverpool defence.

It's pretty cagey so far.

11 mins: Sturridge, playing through the centre as he prefers, jsut fails to bring a long ball down in the box. The game is settling down a bit now.

Manchester United win a free kick on the left in a useful position, but the visitors let themselves down by straying offside before the ball is delivered. That was a good opportunity to test Liverpool but it has gone to waste.

8 mins: The first sign of pressure from Liverpool brings the crowd to life as Coutinho wins the ball and Firmino's floated cross is cut out before it reaches Sturridge. Better from Liverpool.

7 mins:  Paul Pogba wins a free kick 40 yards in front of goal. Ibrahimovic lines up the shot and blasts it high over the bar - that would have been pretty spectacular if it had flown in.

United are pressing very hard in the opening stages, and have already given away three fouls. They have also had more of the ball but have not yet created an opening.

1 nin: United, wearing all blue, kick off but Liverpool immediately win a free kick, and then Marcus Rashford clatters James Milner. Mourinho doesn't think it's a foul... he is in a small minority.

United aren't here to make friends, it seems.

7.55pm: Mourinho is out before the teams as he takes in the view, with the Kop in full cry. This is the bigest crowd to watch United at Anfield since 1977.

But the teams are now ready and referee Anyhony Taylor is eady to get us underway - how will he perform after all the pre match controversy?

7.50pm:  It seems not everyone is convinced by Jose Mourinho's pragmatic team selection for the big game against Liverpool tonight.

Ryan Giggs on Sky and Martin Keown on the BBC are both of the opinion that the United boss is unsure of his best team. Others, including Gary Neville, believe the stage is set for a classic evening of party pooping by United.

One thing the Portuguese does know, however, is how football works. "When we have the ball we want to attack, when they have the ball we want to defend," he tells Sky Sports. He suggests that his team selection was influenced by the defensive capabilities of Fellaini and Young.

That could be bad news for Juan Mata, who makes way tonight and was given the boot at Chelsea for failing to live up to Mourinho's defensive expectations.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is rather more laid back about his selection. He says he just wants the game to get underway.

7.30pm: For once, Liverpool are favourites for tonight's massive Premier League showdown with bitter rivals Manchester United and if they win by three goals they will go top of the table, leapfrogging Man City, Arsenal and Spurs.

Even Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville is impressed with the way the Reds are playing this season. "Liverpool scare me a little bit," he says. "I never thought I would be speaking of them as genuine title contenders."

However, Jose Mourinho is nothing if not hard to beat and his team selection appears designed to capitalise on Liverpool's weaknesses. And a win for the visitors would put them on 16 points, the same number as Liverpool, and catapult his side back into the mix at the top of the table.

7.20pm: Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has sprung a surprise with his team selection for tonight's clash with Liverpool at Anfield handing starts to Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young.

Once again Wayne Rooney is on the bench, alongside Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, who are the players to make way.

Liverpool are without midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, who has failed to recover from a hamstring injury, while Adam Lallana, who was also a fitness doubt, is only on the bench.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has also confounded expectations by picking Daniel Sturridge up front alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

The Sky Sports pundits agree that the United selection is a pragmatic one. They believe Fellaini is in the side to offer height and pose a threat at set-pieces - an area of weakness for Liverpool - while Young has been handed his first start for nine months in order to keep Nathaniel Clyne busy and capitalise on space if he ventures too far forward.

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