My 3 Thoughts on Liverpool-Manchester United
Liverpool Dominates in 4-0 Win, Outscores Archrival 9-0 in Two League Games
Liverpool beat Manchester United 4-0 in the Premier League on Tuesday, putting LFC two points in front of Manchester City at the top of the league ahead of City’s game on Wednesday hosting Brighton. Man United was left in sixth place in the table. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
• I’m going to call this the Thiago Game. The great Spanish-Brazilian central midfielder has had other standout performances, of course, but the pyrotechnics that he displayed in this game (especially in the first half) were something wondrous to behold. Thiago just sees the game ahead of everyone else, and he was playing with so much speed of thought in this game that he was delivering incisive passes in what seemed like milliseconds after he received them. The result was Liverpool cutting through the United defense as if it were a training session at times. Whether it’s through repetition or understanding, Liverpool is playing at a rarefied level in unison right now, and the 25-pass sequence that led to the second goal against United was the perfect example of that. During the second half, I spent most of the time just watching Thiago. Every touch, every feint, every little movement had thought behind it. I absolutely love him as a player, and he’s enjoying his finest moments at Liverpool right now.
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• Manchester United is as brutal as Liverpool is good right now. It’s hard to imagine a bigger gap in the last couple decades between the biggest rivals in English soccer. Having lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool earlier this season, United came out with a five-man back line (including Phil Jones!) that couldn’t keep up with LFC from the start as the hosts raced to a 1-0 lead through Luis Díaz in the fifth minute. Harry Maguire had another plodding performance in the back, Paul Pogba came off with a knock just 10 minutes in, and the United midfield and front line were punchless without Cristiano Ronaldo. (Ronaldo sat out the game after losing his son during childbirth this week, and there was a touching moment when Liverpool fans stood in solidarity with Ronaldo during the seventh minute and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone). It’s clear as day that Erik ten Hag will have a tremendous amount to fix when he takes over United next season. Ralf Rangnick hasn’t been a good fit with these players, and the result these days is kind of sad for such a storied club.
• Over to you, Manchester City. I don’t know how many people have kept saying that City has an easier schedule than Liverpool the rest of the way in the league, therefore City (ahead by one point) will win the league. If I hear it one more time, I think my head might explode. If the main metric you use to decide these upcoming games is the quality of the opposition and not the performance of City and Liverpool, I don’t know what to tell you. The reason I continue to give Liverpool a slight advantage to win the league is simple: Liverpool has been a slightly better team than City has during calendar year 2022. It’s just easier for me to see City slipping up in one of these remaining games, much as City did against Spurs and Crystal Palace. It doesn’t even have to involve City losing, but rather dropping points, and I feel like in the end that’s going to decide the title race. If City wins out the rest of its games, I’ll be very impressed (it’s possible!), but I would also be surprised if that happens.
What are your thoughts on the game? You can join the discussion in the comments below.