Manchester United and Liverpool battled to a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield as United looked to increase their lead up the table while Liverpool attempted to retake the top spot.
The first half proved to be, depending on your perspective, either a nervy or encouraging affair. United and Liverpool were quick to settle into their typical match ups from recent years as United packed it in and invited Liverpool to try and commit too much to breaking them down.
In turn, this gave us an opening 45 minutes of Liverpool dominating possession but only putting one of their nine shots on target while United’s flaggings for offsides nearly matched Liverpool’s shots at seven.
Bruno Fernandes provided United’s most promising chance to break the deadlock with a beautiful free-kick from outside the box that arched over the wall with just enough height that it looked poised to fly inside the upper 90. However, the attempt would drift a foot or two wide of the left post causing all to wonder what could have been.
When United did have the opportunity to go on the break, Liverpool was quick to cut down passing lanes, or Rashford would be released a millisecond or two late and get flagged by the sideline referee. The times that play progressed far enough up the pitch while onside saw Anthony Martial forced to dribble at multiple defenders that ended much in the way you would expect it to.
Anthony Martial isolated on the left against Liverpool and running into a crowd of three defenders: a scene from any time in the last six years.— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) January 17, 2021
The second half would open up more for the good guys following Edinson Cavani’s introduction when Martial was subbed off in the 61st minute. United looked a little more energized to press in the Liverpool half, and they started to create chances as the second half dragged on.
Fernandes and Pogba would each have opportunities in front of goal as they forced point-blank saves from Alisson. The match would finish with Liverpool shooting over twice as many times as United, yet it was the away side with more chances on goal.
More impressive was the resolute defending from the entire Manchester United backline as the match started to flow. Victor Lindelöf put in a Herculean shift following Eric Bailly’s sustained run in his spot over the last couple of weeks. Harry Maguire was sharp and was able to get in the way of any chances inside of the box while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw took care of business on the wings.
Frankly, Manchester United set up not to concede and everyone did their job which was encouraging to watch as United have been prone to leak a goal every once in a while this season. Of course, it is a missed opportunity that United couldn’t find the back of the net late to launch themselves further up the table.
And breathe. Liverpool 0 Manchester United 0. Think most MUFC fans would've taken that, but when you see those late attacks you start to want more.— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) January 17, 2021
United stay top of the league and nobody would've had that a few months back.
Frustrating result. If Manchester United are going to win the league, we'll have to learn to beat these smaller teams who sit deep at home.— Brent (@brentmaximin) January 17, 2021
Manchester United will have an opportunity to make up for lost points as they travel to Craven Cottage to face a tepid Fulham on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Then, United return home to host Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round at Old Trafford on Sunday, Jan. 24.