Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can breathe a sigh of relief after the famed attacking trio of Liverpool failed to register a goal against the Red Devils as they were held to a 0-0 draw in the United Vs Liverpool contest at Old Trafford.
The clash of the Reds was going to be under the spotlight of all the connoisseurs as Manchester United hosted Liverpool for their Premier League fixture on Sunday. The game was hyped to be the “make or break” tie for the Caretaker Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
All the drama before the United Vs Liverpool game submerged when the Devils escaped with a point against their name after suffering 3 major injury blows in the first 40 minutes of the game.
Although the Devils got dropped to 5th position in the table, they will be pleased to keep a clean sheet given that their attack suffered severe blows early in the game with Herrera, Mata and Lingard limping off with injuries.
United started with the usual 4-3-1-2 formation with Mata being the center forward/central attacking midfielder with Lukaku and Rashford on either side. Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba formed a formidable midfield trio. Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, and Luke Shaw fulfilled the defensive duties.
A lot was riding on Solskjaer’s mind regarding the possible substitutions after 60-70 minutes into the United Vs Liverpool game. Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez, both not being fully fit, were inevitably going to be brought in.
Little did he expect what was going to follow. 21 minutes into the first half, Herrera went down holding his hamstring and a shudder would have gone down Solskjaer’s spine when Rashford was also seen holding his thigh at the same time.
4 minutes after Herrera went out, Mata followed him with a suspected ankle injury. Lingard replaced Mata and looked decent till he fumbled on a 1-on-1 against the goalkeeper Allison which saw him go down to make the situation worse for the Devils. Alexis Sanchez, another injury-laden forward, replaced Lingard for the rest of the game.
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Even after suffering three major injuries in the first 40 minutes, United looked flawless in their attack as they constantly kept the Liverpool defenders on their toes. Just a minute shy of half-time, Lukaku was in with a brilliant chance when he headed the ball straight into Allison’s hand.
United went into half time with no goals and all their substitutions over. Not a decent situation when you’re facing the table-toppers, isn’t it?
At the 76th minute, Shaw sent an exquisite free-kick on the back post, sent into the middle by Chris Smalling which made the Liverpool defender Matip find their own net. Luke Shaw was up and running celebrating the own goal. It all came to a dramatic stop with a huge roar across Old Trafford as the linesman ruled Chris Smalling offside.
As the United attack was tiring, it became difficult to keep the tempo up in the United Vs Liverpool clash. That’s when the clever Solskjaer employed a defensive strategy and made it difficult for Salah and co. to penetrate into United’s half.
Solksjaer was unerring in mentioning he is always ready for unexpected challenges that may arise. He was quoted as saying:
“You’ve always got to be ready for everything, but losing three players in the first half with hamstring injuries, and probably we should have taken Marcus off as well.”
“Henderson went through him in the first minute and that was just one of many fouls on him today. I was very concerned, but he’s a warrior and he’s a Manc, and he knows what this means. We had to keep him on, because we’d already used three subs.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased after his side showcased a remarkable level of composure during the United vs Liverpool match.
“You come out with so many positives today. The fans, they were the 11th man today because we had half a Marcus. I can’t remember David having to make a save. We kept them out of it and we created a couple of chances where we could have scored.”
“We’ve lost a few with muscle injuries, hamstrings. But we’ve got some good kids coming through. We’ll have 11 players on the pitch on Wednesday night as well.” Solskjaer added.
The 0-0 result may not showcase the intensity of the United Vs Liverpool game, but the game awareness and adaptability of the Devils is there for everyone to see.
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Facing the table-toppers and losing 3 crucial players with a premier playmaker already ruled out and still managing to keep a clean sheet was a statement that this manager can make the best out of the tough situations.
This result may not be the one to cherish but the one to prove that United is in safe hands going forward.