Manchester United may have gone into the weekend joint top of the Premier League, but there can be no arguments that manager Jose Mourinho did not respect Liverpool immensely before the two great rivals clashed on Saturday.
The Portuguese, who is known for his pragmatic style of football, asked his side to play aa no-thrills brand of the game in order to secure a scoreless draw at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men might be vulnerable at the back when put under pressure, but United offered little suggestion that they might be able to make a breakthrough as the hosts were allowed to dominate the match.
Indeed, over the course of the game, the visitors managed just a single shot on target. In addition to those, they had a couple of speculative efforts from outside the box that were lacking in accuracy.
The hosts, meanwhile, offered much more danger to David de Gea in the Man Utd net. The Spaniard has been a man on form this season and proved it again when he brilliantly kept out Joel Matip, though too often the finishing of Liverpool was weak or off target. From 13 efforts, they worked the keeper just five times.
A point was the least Klopp’s men deserved given their control of matters. While United offered just 18 per cent of their play in the attacking third, Liverpool were up at 26 per cent in the same statistic and they offered similar control of possession as they did in terms of territory.
The hosts enjoyed 62 per cent of the ball and completed 578 passes in contrast to their opponents’ 38 per cent and 354 passes.
Liverpool largely probed down the left flank, where Philippe Coutinho was stationed, but there was a remarkable bias in the efforts of Man Utd, who channelled 55 per cent of their attacks down their right, presumably in an effort to try and exploit the weaknesses of Moreno at left-back.
Ultimately, neither side buckled in what proved to be a disappointing clash. Mourinho may have left with his ears ringing from criticism, but he secured the point that was his objective from the match, keeping United within touching distance of neighbours City at the top of the table and leaving Klopp frustrated and counting the cost of another wasteful display in front of goal.