Manchester United deserved a point from Anfield, but that doesn’t change the fact that United didn’t look like potential champions at all on the day despite a valiant defensive effort from the midfield, defense, and David De Gea.
Liverpool, the first big 6 team United have faced this season, dominated the stats sheet, but failed to find the net. United looked content with a point from the first whistle, and the only real chance was a quickfire chance from Lukaku, who was denied by Mignolet.
Perhaps injuries are to blame for José Mourinho’s conservative team. Perhaps Liverpool truly were the better side on the day and United were lucky to escape. Regardless, Mourinho set the team up in a way that screamed, “We’re here for the draw.”
Of course, “Parking the Bus” has been popularized by Mourinho teams, and it often works. What needs to be addressed however is the one chance on goal United had in the entire match. When Mourinho sides play in big games defense is the priority, but goals still usually come. Chelsea, Internazionale, and Madrid all won big games and silverware because they were able to convert chances on counterattacks. This Manchester United team must learn to do the same.
Can Manchester United win the Premier League playing like they did Saturday against the big teams? Probably not. Especially considering the pace that is being set by Guardiola’s noisy neighbors both on the pitch and in the league table.
United will quickly fall behind on points AND goal differential over the couple months if they don’t start taking risks in important fixtures. United will face Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City, followed immediately by the dreaded winter schedule.
United need wins to keep up in the title race.
The return of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimović will surely be a lift, but it’s the tactics that need to change in order to achieve key victories over the most threatening rivals. If this side can’t match pace now it will be City’s title to lose by January.