Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool Tactical Analysis: Ibrahimovic gives Red Devils share of spoils on Derby Day

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool Tactical Analysis: Ibrahimovic gives Red Devils share of spoils on Derby Day

The game ended as a draw and both sides got a point out of the game as Jose Mourinho's men continue their unbeaten streak against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

ninad-barbadikar
Ninad Barbadikar

Manchester United got their fair share of the points against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in a game that ended 1-1 and lived up to the hype as a proper derby match between two of England's finest clubs.

Liverpool didn't make the best of starts to the game and were on the back foot for much of early parts of the game but got their chance to take the lead when Paul Pogba handled a ball in the area and referee Michael Oliver had no choice but to give the penalty, which was taken well by James Milner, six out of six penalties this season for the Englishman.

United got back into the game late in the second half when a period of sustained pressure finally paid off as Zlatan Ibrahimovic improvised on an Antonio Valencia cross to equalise for the home side and give them a glimmer of hope for a victory. However, the match ended at 1-1. A result that favoured Klopp's Reds rather than United and the two points dropped sees them fall further behind in the race for the top four.

Let's break the match down tactically and see how the game panned out.

United create quality chances early on

United began the match on the front foot and Liverpool, without their usual starters across the pitch, struggled to get a foothold on the game as the home side dominated the possession as well as chance creation for much of early parts of the first half.

Liverpool were not afforded a lot of time on the ball as United looked to press them and make it difficult for them to get their rhythm on the ball and get a passing flow going in midfield and attack, the early pressing also led to a couple of unnecessary fouls from both sides which gave the game an edgy start, which has always been the case for a fixture as historic as this.

Liverpool's organised approach in defending meant that United were afforded time on the ball and they used the ball well, covering the whole length of Liverpool's defensive third with Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan particularly floating around and finding spaces to exploit in the opposition's defence, Paul Pogba however struggled to create much when on the ball, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can did a very good job of tracking the Frenchman's movements and not allowing him to boss the midfield like he has done in recent games for the Red Devils.

The first twenty minutes were full of chances for United to take the lead as Pogba, Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial all had chances to give their side the lead but lacked a finishing touch as the Red Devils wondered if this was going to be one of those days after all.

The game took a huge spin when Pogba handled the ball in the penalty box and the resulting spot-kick was expertly converted by Milner, the Frenchman's confidence looked shaken after the incident and after the game was 1-0 to Liverpool, Klopp's Reds started looking more and more confident on the ball and United struggled to get back into the game.

Liverpool's pressing started to kick in and was more effective as that penalty seemed to have affected United's confidence on the ball and they, therefore, struggled for the rest of the first half and went into half time feeling frustrated and regretting missed chances.

Second half was an improvement but not enough

Seeing that the game needed more energy in midfield, Jose Mourinho decided to bring captain Wayne Rooney onto the field in place of Michael Carrick, who was certainly struggling with the pace of the game and at times looked uncomfortable while passing the ball, hence the change by Mourinho.

Rooney had an instant impact on the game and brought some much nmuch-neededy and injected his typical passionate self into the game, an encounter against Liverpool will always be cherished by the England and Red Devils captain.

In an attempt to increase the creativity and also find spaces in Liverpool's well owell-organised, Mourinho also brought off Juan Mata in the place of Martial, a decision which was met by mixed feelings. Martial's pace was useful for United throughout the game and the Frenchman was getting the better of the young Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold on most occasions, however, the Spaniard did well to impact the game and provide some extra quality in an attacking sense as United went all out for the win.

As the game approached the final half-hour, it became clear that Liverpool were ready to sit back and be organised in defence and counter-attack whenever possible as United looked to create goal-scoring chances once again.

Pogba had his least productive game yet in a United shirt against Liverpool, the Frenchman was covered by Can all game long and the German won almost every battle there was, between them both as United missed their dominant midfielder and struggled to create quality chances late on in the game.

In a last throw of the dice, Mourinho decided to send Marouane Fellaini onto the pitch in place of Matteo Darmian, the move was a clear intention to use the height of Ibrahimovic, Fellaini and Pogba and go 'route-one' in search of the equaliser as tension began to rise in Old Trafford, the unwavering Red Devils supporters prayed for their equaliser and six minutes from time, their prayers were answered.

The last ten minutes saw United put on a lot of pressure on Liverpool and in an attempt to create chances they looked to get the ball into the box at the earliest possible and use their height advantage, however Dejan Lovren was solid for Liverpool and dealt with most crosses but eventually the pressure had to pay off for the Red Devils.

Rooney picked up the ball on the left flank and put in an excellent cross for Fellaini, whose header unfortunately struck the ball and the ball then fell to Valencia, who immediately sent it back into the box and Ibrahimovic was there once again, right place, right time to head the ball with his typical improvisation to lift everybody's mood in and around Old Trafford. 

The goal changed the complexion of the game and gave United real hope that they could snatch a winner, but it ended 1-1 on the day and both sides went off the pitch wondering what they lacked to not get the three points, a draw in the end seemed a fair reflection of how the game went overall. 

However, to look on the bright side, United still remain in 16 games so far and will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Mark Hughes' Stoke City in the next gameweek of the Premier League.

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