Manchester United and Liverpool drew 0–0 at Old Trafford in a match full of injuries. Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, and Jesse Lingard all left the pitch in the first half, which upset the rhythm of the match. When called upon, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay showed no fear against a talented and ferocious Liverpool side with title aspirations.
Young Players Step Up
When Herrera and Mata left the pitch with injuries, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay had large boots to fill. Herrera channels his aggression into interceptions and tackles, and Mata controls the ball effortlessly. Pereira did well to keep the ball while in attacking areas of the pitch. This relieved pressure on his team, especially with the way that Liverpool’s players tend to swarm opponents. He also swept away threatening ground crosses in Manchester United’s penalty area. Essentially, Pereira covered a remarkable amount of space.
Of course, the selection of Pereira leaves question marks over Fred’s future at Manchester United. In training, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must see qualities in Pereira that are lacking in Fred. While both players can play flashy football, Pereira might offer a doggedness that gives him an advantage. Additionally, Pereira’s link up play, at times, mimics that of Jesse Lingard’s. This is a particularly valuable skill when working with an injury-plagued squad. Therefore, if Fred receives an opportunity, he will need to deliver something extraordinary to stay in the team.
With Nemanja Matic injured in training, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selected Scott McTominay to protect Manchester United’s central defenders. Given the magnitude of the match and the fact that McTominay is only 22, it seems safe to say that Solskjaer trusts him. McTominay repaid that trust and delivered a solid performance. McTominay often used his shoulders to shrug Liverpool players off the ball. This aggression was crucial in containing the talented trio of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson. Often, these kinds of players can drag teams around with their rapid passing and distribution of the ball. Still, McTominay consistently headed the ball away from danger and diffused passages of play before they became menacing. In short, he fulfilled his defensive responsibilities with a solid performance.
This match confirmed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can count on Marcus Rashford. With numerous United leaving the pitch with injuries, Rashford played through intense pain to help his team. The young striker limped in the first half but drew upon the adrenaline of the occasion to push himself through the match. He closed down opponents in the 88th minute and consistently made runs behind Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip. This is a player who relies heavily on his speed and strength, which makes his determination even more admirable.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will travel to Crystal Palace in the next round of Premier League fixtures. Then, Manchester United will play Southampton at Old Trafford. These matches will be welcome considering that Arsenal, Paris Saint Germain, and Wolves are on the horizon. Still, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has instilled belief and courage into this team. Manchester United fans can now look forward to every match with a high level of expectation. That hasn’t been the case since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge.
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