Liverpool versus Manchester United again failed to live up to the hype as Jose Mourinho’s safety-first policy saw him once more frustrate the hosts at Anfield.
United goalkeeper David de Gea made one brilliant reaction save from Joel Matip in the first half, but Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to break down well-organised opponents.
It is a criticism which has been regularly levelled at the Reds this season but was perhaps excusable on this occasion considering the rivalry and the quality – United began the day joint top – they faced.
Here are three things we learned.
GOMEZ IS COMING OF AGE
The left-back spot has been a hot topic of debate for Liverpool ever since Jurgen Klopp took charge and that conversation has only intensified with his renewed trust of Alberto Moreno.
But while the left side has been an obvious weak link, the right has been decidedly more assured – even despite the long-term absence of first-choice option Nathaniel Clyne.
To that end, Joe Gomez deserves a tremendous amount of credit and against United the England U21 skipper furthered his growing reputation.
Indeed, he had the better of Anthony Martial in the first half, completely nullifying the United winger with a display of positional maturity.
Going forward he was an outlet, a delightful ball of the top for Can was a highlight though on the whole his delivery was a little short of quality.
With 63 touches, 26/30 passes completed (17/18 in the opposition half) and two chances created alongside three tackles and two interceptions, he was Liverpool’s standout player at Anfield.
REDS NEED TO LOOK AFTER THE BALL
Against teams who sit in deep with two compact banks of four, patience and ball retention are paramount.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City are perhaps the best example in the Premier League of a side who can recycle the ball over and over before finding the space to penetrate.
And Liverpool needed to borrow that philosophy against United. It will frustrate Klopp then to see that they perpetually lost the ball while in United’s final third with Mohamed Salah (7), Roberto Firmino (6) and Philippe Coutinho (4) combining to be disposed a total of 17 times.
That in short is utterly wasteful and Liverpool simply have to look after the ball better because they let a very negative United off the hook at times.
OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN SHOWS PROMISE
With Sadio Mane set for a six-week spell on the sidelines, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to see more than his obligatory 15-minute cameos.
It will delight Klopp and the Kop that he finally showed glimpses of what he can deliver in his latest appearance from the bench against United.
He was confident, direct and rapid as he came on to replace Salah on the right of the front three and the England international’s immediate intention to get to the byline offered a new dimension to the attack.
The 24-year-old was perceived as a pure luxury signing but Mane’s injury is exactly why he was brought in. Now, he has to use this performance as a platform to build his confidence up.