Daniel Sturridge celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead
Manchester United slipped to their first defeat of the 2013/14 campaign as Daniel Sturridge’s fourth minute header was enough to maintain the perfect start for Liverpool. In the match, which always serves as a perfect advertisement of English football, players gave their all and mostly cancelled each other out which resulted in a low scoring affair.
Let’s have a look at how the players fared individually on the pitch:
Simon Mignolet 7/10
Didn’t have much to do in the game as he was left largely untested by the United strikers, who didn’t receive the final ball. The only noticeable save that he had to make was from a left foot Nani attempt which moved in the air, but was very well put away by the new Liverpool number one, who has now kept three clean sheets in a row.
Glen Johnson – 8/10
Produced a wonderful performance at right back in negating any threat posed by the movement of Giggs, Evra and Welbeck on United’s left flank. Made a couple of crunching tackles to keep United attackers at bay when they had clear opportunities to shoot on goal. His positional sense was spot on. Was substituted late on after suffering a knock.
Daniel Agger – 8/10
Out muscled his marker and won the header from a corner that was well flicked on by Sturridge into the back of the net. Was solid as a rock in the central defense as he cleared any ball that came into the Liverpool box.
Martin Skrtel – 7/10
Well complemented the other defenders in an impressive defensive display by Liverpool back four. Was continuously on the heels of Van Persie, and negated any threat that could have been posed by the in form Dutchman. Fully filled in for injured Kolo Toure.
Jose Enrique – 6/10
The only negative aspect of Liverpool’s defense today was their left back, Jose Enrique, who was beaten for strength and pace for more than a couple of occasion by Antonio Valencia, as most of the threat came from United’s right flank only.
Lucas Leiva – 7/10
Did the dirty work in the middle of the park for Liverpool by breaking any move that United tried to conjure. Made a couple of crunching tackles and interceptions that could have otherwise posed a serious threat on Liverpool’s goal. However, didn’t do much with the ball at his feet.
Steven Gerrard – 6/10
Was relatively quiet according to his high standards, especially in the clashes against United. Had a free kick which was comfortably saved by De Gea. Did his defensive duties by tracking back a couple of times and winning the ball from United strikers. Going forward, however, he didn’t create much.
Jordan Henderson – 5/10
Kept losing the ball in the middle of the park for Liverpool and didn’t have anything to offer while moving forward. Did win a few fouls while tracking back that earned Liverpool precious seconds to slow down the game.
Iago Aspas – 5/10
Just like Henderson, didn’t really match up to the pace of the game and kept losing possession for Liverpool which didn’t allow them to go for that second goal. His first touch let him down every time. Was rightfully subbed early in the second half.
Philippe Coutinho – 6/10
Used his pace and quick feet to get away from his marker a couple of times and tried a few shots from long range. Took a free kick from a promising situation, but hit it high into the stands. Didn’t produce any real noticeable moment during the match. Was subbed late on for fresher and more defensive legs.
Daniel Sturridge – 9/10
Continued his smashing start to the season by scoring the only goal of the match with an improvised flick off his head into the back of the net. His hold up play upfront was excellent which didn’t allow the opposition to win the ball back quickly. His attacking partners, however, didn’t help him much during the game, and therefore, his chances to score further were quite limited.
Raheem Sterling – 5/10
Came on for Iaogo Aspas in the 60th minute and was well marshaled by Antonio Valencia. He was a no match against the strength of Valencia, as he was knocked off the ball several times by the Ecuadorian. His only moment of the match came deep into the stoppage time when he drove forward and forced a flying save out of De Gea.
Alberto and Wisdom – NA
Came on late in the match and didn’t contribute much to be rated for the same.
Michael Carrick was United’s top player
David De Gea – 7/10
Couldn’t have done anything about the goal scored by Liverpool. Apart from a flying save deep into the stoppage time, he made a couple of comfortable saves off free kicks or long range shots and was largely untroubled by the Liverpool attackers. Kept his concentration well in clearing the ball which was almost chased down by Johnson when Vidic let a loose back pass towards him.
Phil Jones – 5/10
Playing as a makeshift right back, he didn’t provide much support in the attacking sense on the right wing as his crosses were easily dealt with by the Liverpool defense. Did his defensive duties well until he fell awkwardly to twist his ankle and was subbed just after thirty six minutes for Valencia.
Rio Ferdinand – 6/10
Was at fault for conceding the goal as he lost Agger, who won the header off the corner that resulted in the Liverpool goal. Performed well otherwise during open play as he didn’t allow Liverpool strikers much time on the ball to pose any real threat.
Nemanja Vidic – 7/10
Produced a sound defensive display in the heart of United defense as he cleared anything that came his way. Tried his best to score at the other end through his aerial prowess off the corners, but was well marked by Liverpool defenders.
Patrice Evra – 7/10
Didn’t have much to do defensively as Henderson and Aspas were well off their game. Did well going forward in supporting the wingers and putting in few balls into the box. Took a crunching tackle from Johnson when he tried to run through the Liverpool defense from the center.
Ryan Giggs – 6/10
Just as Steven Gerrard for Liverpool, he didn’t do enough according to his experience and high standards playing in big matches like these. His deliveries from corners were also not up to the mark. Didn’t lose possession, but didn’t do much with the ball too. Was subbed midway through the second half.
Michael Carrick – 8/10
Dictated the play for United as he pulled the strings from midfield. Made some vital interceptions as well as forward passes to display his all round game. He, along with Cleverley, dominated the midfield especially in the second half. The only thing missing was probably the killer pass.
Tom Cleverley – 7/10
Played well alongside Carrick in the United midfield and didn’t allow Gerrard and co. assert themselves on United. Hit some good thirty yard diagonals towards the flanks and kept the ball moving in the midfield. Continued from his fine display against Chelsea on Monday night.
Ashley Young – 6/10
Put in a couple of delightful crosses into the Liverpool box, but the United strikers were unfortunately at the wrong places. Could have scored in the second half if his shot, well on target from just outside the area ,was not blocked by a couple of Liverpool defenders. Was subbed in the 60th minute for Nani.
Danny Welbeck – 6/10
Put in a good shift with his energy on the field. Tracked back well as always in winning the ball for United. Going forward, however, he was well kept in check by Liverpool defenders. Had a half chance in the first half when his shot was well blocked by Glen Johnson.
Robin Van Persie – 4/10
Had a very poor game according to his very high standards. Couldn’t get himself into the game as he was largely left a frustrated figure by the Liverpool defenders, which also earned him a yellow card. Should have scored the equalizer late into the second half when he was put through on goal by Hernandez, but he scuffed his right footed sliding shot into the side netting.
Antonio Valencia – 8/10
Produced a wonderful performance, both in defense as well as in attack, after he was unexpectedly called on early in the match following Jones’ injury. Kept a check on Sterling during the second half, and his pace and strength proved to be handful for Liverpool’s left back. Just like Carrick, the only thing missing from his game was that killer final ball.
Nani – 6/10
Did inject some pace and trickery into the United right wing along with Valencia, which also allowed him to take a shot at goal off his left foot, which was very well saved by Liverpool keeper. However, he still very much looked short of match practice as his touches were not up to the mark.
Javier Hernandez – 6/10
Came on late for his first appearance under David Moyes. Produced the moment and ball of the match for United when he slid a ball onto the patch of Van Persie, who could only scuff his shot wide. Other than that, he, like Nani, looked really short of match practice.