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Five Things we learned from Manchester United’s win over Liverpool

Bailly makes all the difference, Alexis continues to struggles, and more observations from Saturday’s crucial win.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

United can ruthlessly exploit a weakness

José Mourinho’s park the bus tactics in the bigger games attract so much criticism because they completely nullify United as an attacking threat.

Here, it was different. Yes, United’s back four defended very narrowly but when they got the opportunity to attack, they were ruthless; brutally exposing Liverpool’s frailties.

Nearly all of their attacking play was down the left and as soon as it became clear that Dejan Lovren couldn’t cope with Romelu Lukaku in the air, the ball was sent there at every opportunity.

Rashford grabs his chance

There had been talk of a loan move for Marcus Rashford in recent weeks, and this was his first league start of 2018.

He got a chance here and boy did he grab it. He was fired up - he flew into three challenges with gusto - and when he had the opportunity to finish, he was clinical.

This was the performance of a man who views his future right here at Old Trafford.

Ashley Young can play as a full back

I must confess, I’m in the class of people who think that Luke Shaw should be United’s first choice left back.

As an alternative, Ashley Young is not a natural fit, much older and has been poor in recent weeks. But not today. He was charged with stopping Mohamed Salah and he was outstanding.

He stayed narrow, denying the Egyptian any space to run into and made genuinely goal-saving interceptions at vital times. Arguably his finest performance in a United shirt.

Eric Bailly makes such a difference

The pace, power and confidence of Eric Bailly puts him on another level to any of United’s other central defensive options.

His return brought increased calm to the back line and he was able to match Liverpool’s rapid attackers physically.

Yes, he contrived to score a ridiculous own goal but that was the only way the visitors were ever going to score. That was largely down to Bailly.

Sánchez struggles again

He was tireless in his running but Alexis Sánchez couldn’t add anything in an attacking sense.

He was fielded as a number 10 but it was Juan Mata, drifting in from the right, who caused the most damage in that position.

Mourinho has said that we will see the best of Sánchez next season but for the money he’s earning, the United fans will hope to see more than just a willing runner between now and the end of the season.