In Brief

Premier League: Liverpool go back to the top but fail to impress at Man Utd

Klopp admits it was a ‘strange game’ at Old Trafford as injuries hit Solskjaer’s side

Manchester United 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League yesterday after being held to a goalless draw at Old Trafford by Manchester United.

The result leaves the Reds on 66 points, one more than Manchester City, who spent the day retaining the Carabao Cup.

As for United, they drop to fifth place behind Arsenal, who beat Southampton 2-0. But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t be too disheartened by the scoreline given the horrendous disruption his side had to overcome.

Dropping like flies

Having had Nemanja Matic ruled out before the match with a training ground injury, Solskjaer then lost Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard in the first half, while Marcus Rashford also picked up a knock.

In normal circumstances the England striker would have been substituted but with no more options on the bench, Rashford was forced to take one for the team and tough out the full 90 minutes.

“Everything that could have gone wrong in the first half went wrong,” reflected Solskjaer. “We had four injuries – we had to keep Marcus Rashford on – and it seemed like it was going to be a tough afternoon.”

In fact it wasn’t that bad as Liverpool lacked a cutting edge up front. The Anfield side also had to reshuffle, losing Roberto Firmino in the first half, but that wasn’t an adequate excuse and Jurgen Klopp said as much.

“It was a strange game,” admitted the Liverpool manager. “All the injuries in the game obviously cost us rhythm… we didn’t create enough and that’s the truth.”

Sloppy Sunday

Asked for his assessment of an afternoon that at least saw Liverpool return to the top, Klopp said: “It is a point gained because we have one more than before but it doesn’t feel like that.

“The boys didn’t feel okay. I could see it in their faces. It was strange. I was thinking ‘what is going on here today?’ They lost momentum and rhythm and couldn’t really get it back.”

The worry for Klopp is that this lack of creativity was also evident last Tuesday when the Reds were held to a goalless draw at Anfield by Bayern Munich in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie.

Something’s not right in the head of his players and Klopp acknowledged he had to find a solution before the Premier League clash against Watford on Wednesday.

“I am not overly happy but we need to work with it,” he said. “The next tough task is waiting on Wednesday.”

Arsenal 2 Southampton 0

First-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw Arsenal home against a Southampton side that had their chances in an entertaining encounter at the Emirates.

So did the Gunners, however, and Lacazette came up with a contender for miss of the season when he blazed over from five yards with the goal at his mercy.

Ultimately it didn’t matter as Arsenal climbed back into the top four and the Saints remain trapped in the relegation zone.

“The most important thing is the three points at home with our supporters,” said Gunners boss Unai Emery, who once again left Mesut Ozil on the bench. “We are thinking it’s a good step and it’s game by game. Now we are happy, we are at the moment in this position and we carry on.”

Premier League results

  • Cardiff City 1 Watford 5 
  • West Ham United 3 Fulham 1 
  • Burnley 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1 
  • AFC Bournemouth 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 
  • Newcastle United 2 Huddersfield Town 0 
  • Leicester City 1 Crystal Palace 4 
  • Arsenal 2 Southampton 0 
  • Manchester United 0 Liverpool 0

Premier League fixtures

Tuesday 26 February
  • Cardiff City vs. Everton (7.45pm) 
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (7.45pm) 
  • Leicester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (7.45pm) 
  • Newcastle United vs. Burnley (8pm, live on BT Sport 1)
Wednesday 27 February
  • Arsenal vs. AFC Bournemouth (7.45pm)   
  • Southampton vs. Fulham (7.45pm)   
  • Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur (8pm, live on BT Sport 1
  • Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United (8pm) 
  • Liverpool vs. Watford (8pm) 
  • Manchester City vs. West Ham United (8pm)

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