As it happened: Man Utd and Liverpool draw in match dominated by injuries

As it happened: Man Utd and Liverpool draw in match dominated by injuries

Matchday live text commentary blog from Old Trafford as Manchester United face Liverpool in the Premier League, Oliver Miller reports.

oliver-miller
Oliver Miller
Goodbye
I'm going to head downstairs and listen to what the coaches and the players have to say about that match. There will be plenty of post match content going up across the Vavel UK platforms soon, so make sure you stay tuned.

I will return in the near future to provide groundbreaking and revolutionary analysis (it's a joke!) - so speak soon and enjoy the rest of your day.

Full Time Analysis
An interesting game. There was limited quality and not too many clear-cut chances but a draw is a draw and both teams will probably be content with it.

United were hampered by those first half injuries and makes their second half display all the more impressive. So far under Solskjaer, United have been applauded for their care-free, positive attacking approach but this was different. This was a performance built on a solid defence which didn't look possible after a nervy opening.

Liverpool, on the other hand, had more of the ball and were more attack-minded but could not take advantage of United's enforced changes and struggled to compose meaningful pieces of play and goalscoring opportunities. That will be the aspect that frustrates Klopp as again Liverpool fail to take the opportunity to make a statement.

There was a lack of creativity and imagination from Liverpool and largely depended on crosses and long balls to get the play close to De Gea. Positives and negatives for both but what it means for both Solskjaer and Liverpool respectively is yet to be found out.

Full Time: Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
And that's that. It is over and it's goalless (mine and Liverpool's second of the week). Solskjaer remains unbeaten in the league as United's caretaker boss whilst Liverpool take a point to move one clear of Man City in the standings.
90'+2 Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool continue to swing balls in rather directly, they really don't know how they want/are going to score.
90' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
An inviting cross is swung across the Liverpool area and somehow Smalling doesn't apply a finish. He was at the back post with Matip for partnership and seemed reluctant to apply what could have been the winning touch. That was a good chance for United.
90' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
The fourth official has indicated that there will be just two minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half.
88' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
The final third has been a panic zone for Liverpool this afternoon. Sturridge has just rose to meet a cross but crawls all over an United defender and gives away a foul. There has been a discernible lack of quality - from both teams - but especially Liverpool given the scenario in which they're playing. 
86' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool's last shot on target was in the 33rd minute, courtesy of Sturridge. United have defended superbly in this game. Shaw, Lindelof and McTominay have had it locked down.
83' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
We are entering the final stages now and it only takes one moment, one single piece of play for either side to emerge as victors. It is still quite scrappy though and one does wonder whether either side will want to particularly commit.
80' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Origi's first passage of play on this near side is encouraging; up against Lindelof he showed a touch of trickery to take play into the area. Sturridge though is to reactive rather than proactive. A free-kick does come from it nevertheless...but it's wasted, again.
79' Liverpool Substitution
Salah is off (somewhat surprisingly, although he has not been at his best today), Origi is on in his place.
77' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Lukaku is finding it difficult against this Liverpool defence. He is on the far right and having to do a lot of running, he does look tired and is not capable of tracking back effectively. Liverpool must try and target that side.
73' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Shaqiri is playing wide right with Liverpool switching to a 4-2-3-1. 

United have a free-kick, Shaw swings it in towards Smalling at far side of the area. Liverpool's high line again means that United are caught offside. The ball still ends up in the back of net after Smalling played square for Matip to tap in. Brief celebrations ensued and then everyone saw the flag. 

71' Liverpool Substitution
Shaqiri is on for Henderson who has passed the captain's armband to Milner. Shaqiri will bring more invention to the table and might just be able to unlock the door that Liverpool are increasingly trying to ram down. It certainly shows Klopp's intentions.
68' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool enjoy a spell of pressure now but Man Utd are working mega hard off the ball to close them down and deny space. The ball's just not dropping for either team at the moment, it's scrappy. You sense Liverpool need to relax.

Wijnaldum heads wide from a corner, it was a good chance. And there are also claims that he was pulled back by McTominay as he went for the ball. It was definitely worth a shout.

66' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
I would love to see the pass completion stats for this match. There have been so many wayward passes that it's difficult to anticipate no player for either side has anything over 80 per cent. There have been few attempts that either goalkeeper has had to make; Alisson produced that fine piece stop but it is hard to remember De Gea having to do anything since THAT backpass in the opening seconds.
63' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
It is frantic. There is no control from either side. Liverpool, in particular, are playing overly direct and not deploying their usual game against a deep-lying defence. There needs to be patience and more imagination when building attacks. Firmino's movement is seemingly a big miss; Mane and Salah are lacking that foil that so often gifts them opportunities to find space - Sturridge doesn't bring that.
61' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Superb from Sanchez to shift balance quickly under pressure and take out two pressing Liverpool players. That starts an attack, United get forward but Liverpool win a throw. 

Matip keeps giving the ball away for Liverpool with long passes. Pogba skins a defender with a disguised backheel fake but slips as he crosses. 

59' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
United are showing Liverpool out wide when they are with the ball. The crosses that are coming in from either flank are not the most encouraging. There has been little intricate play from Klopp's men and a definite lack of composure and domination in the final third.
57' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
United are mustering a few chances. Rashford's awkwardly scuffed shot wide of Alisson's post is the latest. Solskjaer will have most likely told his side to still be positive in this half despite the happenings of the first. In reality they have little to lose and a lot to gain.
54' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
The crowd are certainly playing their part today, the noise  and encouragement is relentless. Both sides are getting forward now, it feels like it is starting to open up now. 
52' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
United have changed shape now, it's a 4-5-1 with Lukaku leading the line and everyone else behind him.
51' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Free header for Pogba but it goes straight at Alisson. The linesman on the far side has raised his flag so the Frenchman was offside. It was a good set-piece and Liverpool's extraordinary high defensive line almost proved costly.
49' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Matip got lucky there. A quarter second too long on the ball and Pogba nearly teamed up with Sanchez to steal it and run away clean through on goal! A strong challenge by the defender averts disaster.

Liverpool passing around the back, unable to really work it forwards. Just going back to my previous point, Klopp's side do seem to be lacking a bit of imagination this afternoon. A 0-0 will not be the worse scoreline for Liverpool, just as it wasn't in mid-week in the Champions League.

47' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Sturridge almost managed to latch onto to a flick on from Mane in the United area. He would have been one-on-one with De Gea had he go to that, I think he was slightly onside. Liverpool need to be more precise and composed in this half to convert their promising positions into chances and goals. Salah, in particular, has been sloppy with his possession.
Second Half Kickoff
Right we are just about to get going again. Let's see how this half pans out. I was thinking during the break what United were exactly doing in the warm up, evidently not what they were supposed to be. Also how costly may that decision to bring Lingard on when not fully fit prove to be in terms of his recovery?
Subs Stats
Just before the second half gets underway, I have managed to uncover some substitution statistics...

Manchester United are the first side to make all three subs in the first half since Burnley vs Newcastle in January 2015

The most substitutes used in the first half of a PL game is five (Newcastle v Wigan in April 2006)

Half Time Analysis
If Liverpool didn't expect to win this pre-match, then they certainly will now. This has been a half of injuries and substitutions, it disrupted the rhythm and brought a rather promising start to bitty ending. Liverpool have had more of the ball, and the better of the play but struggled to muster any meaningful chances due to clumsy final passes.

United's line-up is very different to that which started the match and it will be a big test for the remnants to keep Liverpool at bay. The hosts have had their moments but have sat deep on the whole and suffered badly with the injuries. This will be a tough half for Solskjaer to endure.

Quite a bizarre first half! 

Half Time: Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Both teams march off the pitch. The half is over and it is goalless at the break.
45'+2 Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
This half is now just meandering to half time. There is a feeling of 'let's just wait for the second half'. Little has been created in the past 15 minutes or so. Liverpool currently have the ball on the edge of the United area, but once again a poor pass spurns a good position.
45' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
There will be a minimum of four minutes of stoppage time.
45' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Sanchez's first involvement is to curl a cross towards the back post. Lukaku wrestles with Robertson and can only half head at goal but Alisson claims. Now Robertson is down, seemingly landing heavy on his arm. He does look alright to continue.
42' Manchester United Substitution
Oh wow! Lingard has lasted little over fifteen minutes. Sanchez is coming on to replace him. Why is this happening? That will be the question in the mind of Solskjaer. This second half is going to be a big test of character for the 11 now on the pitch, of which the injured Rashford is one of them.
39' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
What a stop! Alisson with the best piece of goalkeeping I have seen for a long time. United are attacking with five players baring down on the area, Pogba plays to Lukaku who then lays off Lingard. The substitute controls and tries to advance around Alisson but the Brazilian comes out quickly, gets down and gets a strong right hand to the ball without making contact with Lingard. So often goalies commit and bring the attacker down but not there, that was great goalkeeping.
36' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Pogba takes aim, it's heading towards the far corner but Van Dijk takes no changes and heads the ball over. Alisson probably had it covered. Both of Liverpool's centre backs were a little deep there, inviting the play onto them, they must be more sure footed especially when up against Lukaku.
34' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
The game has slowed now. Naturally the changes will take time to settle, although it doesn't appear that either side has changed shape. I would be surprised though if Rashford will be able to last this half let alone the match.
31' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Milner has struggled to join in with the attacks on the far side so far. Just before Mane took control in midfield and played it out wide into a space that Alexander-Arnold would have already been attacking. Milner was slightly delayed in reaching it and then delivered a disappointing low cross.
29' Liverpool Substitution
And now Liverpool make a change, Sturridge is on for Firmino who has rolled his ankle. Both sides squad depth being heavily tested here.
27' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
The tempo has dropped with all of those stoppages. The past 10 minutes has barely seen any meaningful play, there will be a fair amount of stoppage time at the end of the half.

United's midfield is now Pogba-McTominay-Pereira from left to right.

24' Manchester United Substitution
A nightmare for Solskjaer! Mata limps off and is replaced by Lingard, that is now two changes in the opening quarter of this match. There has to be something in this, whether it be an insufficient warm up or a result of not recuperating properly between matches. Remember Lingard and Martial both went off early against PSG the other week.
23' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
And now United has a corner. It is sent in by Young, Rashford picks it up on the edge of the area but loses it. Liverpool then counter straight down the other end towards De Gea. Mata challenges Salah and stops the break. Then Milner comes in heavy on Pogba and receives the first yellow card of the match.
22' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool have easily seen out the first section of the game and have pushed higher up the pitch. Matip and Van Dijk have all the time in the world to pick their passes and start moves from the back, and that's because Mata is the central threat and is dropped deep.

The visitors have a corner, it's curled in and a series of headers pursue before De Gea claims.

20' Manchester United Substitution
Herrera is off, Pereira is on. This is now a very different United midfield to what we have become used to in recent months. That will be an area which Liverpool will look to dominate.
18' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
And now Herrera is down on the turf, seemingly rubbing his hamstring the physios are on assessing him. With Rashford also struggling this is very damaging for United. Liverpool will be encouraged by this. 
16' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool really are enjoying United's sit-off approach, they've got time on the ball and territory to exploit.

Rashford is limping, possibly a pulled muscle. Sanchez is out warming up on this near touchline and Solskjaer may need to make a change in the next few minutes.

14' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Matip is encouraged to go forward, forward into the United area such is the deep setup of the hosts. Herrera feels the urge though to stop Liverpool's central defender just as he was entering the area. Free-Kick to the visitors!

Salah takes up his position but sends the shot straight over the crossbar, poor free-kick.

12' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
What was I just saying about Mata? He has just spurned the opportunity to send Rashford through with plenty of space in front of him. Milner then progresses up the right touchline and delivers an overhit cross; his versatility is being tested once again today.
10' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool's front three are playing very high, trying to force mistakes out of the united defence and early signs are that it may prove fruitful. There have been a few nervy touches  and tense passes and Salah & Co. will aim to exploit so close to De Gea's goal. United are sitting deeper, looking to counter but at the moment are drawing Liverpool on.
08' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Rashford moves from the channel to space inside the pitch and the long ball over the top finds him! His first touch is good but he slips while trying to fire a shot from distance and Alisson catches easily.

Salah goes on a speedy dribble from right to inside but his cross is deflected and then picked up by De Gea. Henderson fouls Rashford on the half-turn, Mata fouls Fabinho from the resulting free-kick. There's plenty going on!

05' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
There's a good tempo to the game early on. Whenever Mata is receiving the ball he is always looking to release Rashford. As expected, given the fixture and the occasion, both sides have brought plenty of energy to this one, let's see how long this tempo lasts.
02' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
This game has started via explosion. Liverpool are pressing aggressively in the early stages. Robertson tried to release Mane with a looping ball but it is swept up by Smalling at the back for United.
01' Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool
Tense start as Young plays a nervy ball back to De Gea  who only just gets to the ball ahead of Firmino. In fact De Gea got a hand to the back pass inside his area and has given Liverpool an in-direct free-kick. It's laid off for Milner to strike but it goes straight into the wall. United survive.
First Half Underway
We have kickoff! United get us underway in their red strip and will play from left to right. Liverpool are all in grey.
Eric Harrison
We will have a moment of reflection for the life of Eric Harrison, the former United youth coach prior to kickoff.
Almost ready for kickoff
Referee Michael Oliver leads out the two teams onto the Old Trafford turf. The Premier League anthem blares around the stands - it is quite catchy in fairness - the travelling Liverpool supporters are in good voice to my right, as are the home fans. This is great. Kickoff is now just moments away.
It always rains in Manchester
Well, in fact, no it doesn't. It is a lovely day here in Manchester; Old Trafford is bathed in late February sunshine. What a day for such an occasion, it only improves the mood around the stadium going into the game.
Talking Tactics
So Matic is out injured. Solskjaer has had to shuffle his pack and has opted to place McTominay on the right of midfield with Herrera playing central. United naturally focus a lot of their attacks down the left side with Shaw, Pogba and Rashford forming a good three-tiered combination.

Pogba starts on the left but will attack central areas allowing Shaw to overlap and support Rashford. Liverpool will need to be strong on their right - Milner is playing at right back - to cope with United's attacking play.

Though Liverpool can exploit United's reliance on the left wing by switching the ball quickly to a player in space on the opposite side. With Salah distracting Young, this is sure to cause plenty of problems.

Team News
So then, the teams...

Man Utd XI: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Rashford.

Subs: Romero, Bailly, Dalot, Fred, Sanchez, Lingard, Pereira.

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino.

Subs: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Keita, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi, Sturridge.

Welcome to Old Trafford
It's the big one! No not the Carabao Cup final, that's later. This is arguably bigger, albeit there is no trophy on the line - not directly at least - it will have rather large ramifications in this season's title race. Let alone it is Manchester United v Liverpool!

There have been a fair few damp squibs in this fixture in recent years but now we have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer involved and so should at least be brighter and just generally more fun. 

This is a massive game!

Sunday, 2.05pm!!
Ok, so I'll leave it there for now. There are so many questions attached to this appetising tussle: Can United inflict only Liverpool's second league defeat of the season? Will Liverpool make a title statement and win at Old Trafford in the league for the first time since March 2014 and send Solskjaer to his first league defeat as United coach? All will be revealed on Sunday. Do join us then. 
Who's in, who's out?
United are optimistic that Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial will be fit after respective hamstring and groin injuries. David de Gea is set to return in goal after making way for Sergio Romero in the FA Cup win at Chelsea on Monday.

The host's will still be without long term absentees Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk returns after being suspended for the midweek draw with Bayern Munich. But fellow defender Dejan Lovren will miss out again with a hamstring problem.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is nearing a return to action having stepped up his training following a long layoff due to injury. But Joe Gomez - out with a fractured leg - is still on the treatment table for the foreseeable.

Pre Match Press Conferences
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed the media on Friday...

"I'm focusing on us and what we have to do to get to where we want to be. It's a three-horse race for the title and fourth, that's my focus."

"I played a few of these [games against Liverpool] myself and know the magnitude of it for the fans and everyone who works here."

"It's our job to be focusing and channelling all that energy into performance mode when we start the game on Sunday."

Jurgen Klopp also spoke to reporters previewing the match...

"There is no doubt that he [Solskjaer] will be the manager next year as well, that's clear."

We have a chance to play an outstanding last period of the season, starting with one of the most difficult games. Even if we were 20 points ahead there is no guarantee we will win away at United."

It [the title] will never be decided 12 matchdays before the end. They will all be tough. Now it is a really big one, I know that, I respect that."

Newspaper Talk
Despite this being the weekend of the League Cup final at Wembley, it is this Manchester-Liverpool clash that dominated Saturday's sports pages...

Jamie Carragher writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph has highlighted that "Every title race has a defining week - this is Liverpool's". With a home match in midweek against a confident and impressive Watford and a trip to Goodison Park next Sunday, it certainly has that feeling of being a big week for his former side.

The main headline in The Times carries the same sentiment: "Klopp faces big day in quest to rebuild dynasty." Also in the paper, Nemanja Vidic makes his prediction ahead of the match: "Positive United will pinch it if they defend as a team." 

Today's Guardian features an interview with Ashley Young who says that "United will take massive belief into the Liverpool game," having lost only one game in their past 13 since Solskjaer took over.

Preview
After beating Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea on the road Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can further strengthen his case to be made permanent Manchester United manager by registering the result fans prioritise: a home win against Liverpool, especially this Liverpool.

Such a result would severely hamper Liverpool’s bid to claim a first championship in 29 years; this being the visitor's match in hand, only increased the pressure on Liverpool to turn up and make it count.

Anything but a win, realistically, will be interpreted as a shift in the title race towards Manchester City. The margins are tight and this game represents, not only a huge test, but also a huge opportunity to show their intent in not letting City have it too easy. 

Under normal circumstances, a draw at Manchester United would be a good outcome for Liverpool - they have, after all, lost seven of their last nine league trips to the home of their fiercest rivals. 

But United have every right to be confident. Just nine weeks ago their supporters approached their trip to Anfield with dread, and their team were soundly beaten.

However, they will approach the return with nothing but relish, even if that means inching the title in City's direction.

Welcome!
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live text coverage of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool from Old Trafford.

I'm Oliver Miller and I'll be keeping you updated with the latest from Manchester including in-game analysis and opinion on this massive match for Liverpool and their title challenge. 

It is a 2:05pm kick-off on Sunday and you can bookmark this page to stay up to date with the latest updates and team news as the match approaches.

VAVEL Logo