United created their first chance immediately after Ashley Young and Patrice Evra showed some fine play down the left, but the resultant cross from the right was cut out by Simon Mignolet.
Yet it was Liverpool who scored from their first attack, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young at fault as the hosts earned a corner, from which Daniel Agger's headed was diverted into the net by Daniel Sturridge from close range.
In a frantic start, United mounted an attack straight afterwards, and Ryan Giggs' free-kick found Evra at the far post, before Robin van Persie fired an overhead kick over the bar.
Danny Welbeck was the next to go close from United, who were being outmatched in midfield but creating chances when getting forward. The youngster burst into the left channel but his attempt was denied by a recovering challenge from Glen Johnson, with the resultant corner coming to nothing thanks to Giggs' poor delivery.
Thereafter, United were all over the place, with Carrick in particular having a terrible game. Tom Cleverley, who was less awful, was however booked for an aggressive challenge on Coutinho, with the resultant free-kick being blazed over. In one positive, Antonio Valencia was preferred to Chris Smalling at right-back when Phil Jones went off with a knock (although the absence of Fabio as even an option did perhaps mar that.)
Carrick was then booked somewhat harshly afterwards as a United attack broke down following Young's cross just evading Van Persie, and with both United midfielders booked in a high-tempo game, it's not a good sign. Robin van Persie, Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard also exchanged frank opinions after the Dutchman claimed to be elbowed by the Liverpool defender.
It'll be a major surprise if we end this with eleven men. The positive is that every time we have gotten forward, the Liverpool defence looks extremely vulnerable, but major changes are needed at half-time.