Three things we learned: Man United vs. Liverpool
Manchester United and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday as James Milner’s penalty kick in the first half was canceled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late header as the points were shared between the bitter rivals.
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Jurgen Klopp looked like he’d get the better of Jose Mourinho for most of the match but Liverpool and United both remain firmly in the top four hunt.
[ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]
Here’s what we learned from a cagey encounter between these rivals at Old Trafford.
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EMOJI GAME NOT STRONG FOR POGBA
Simply put, if you choose one of the biggest games on the planet to launch your own emoji, then make sure you play well.
Pogba, 23, didn’t do that and the most-expensive player in the world had a nightmare in several key scenarios during the game.
He lost Dejan Lovren time and time again on corner kicks in the first half and then was played through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan but scuffed his effort wide when he looked certain to score.
At the other end, Pogba then panicked when he lost sight of the ball as a corner came in and Lovren got the wrong side of him. He put his arm out and it was a clear handball as referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Pogba looked mortified.
As his new emoji spun around the adverting boards, Pogba’s head must have been spinning. For the rest of the game he tried to make up for his monumental mistake but the Frenchman was caught in possession on multiple occasions and when that happened he looked like a horse galloping in quicksand as he tried to retreat and gain the ball back from Liverpool’s small, speedy attackers.
[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Man United, Liverpool ]
Following his slow start to life back at Old Trafford, Pogba had been mercurial in recent weeks as United won nine-straight games in all competitions. Against Liverpool his display stunk of someone trying too hard to impress and knowing everyone was watching him. That intense pressure shouldn’t impact Pogba, but it did. Big time.
After the initial deluge of #Pogba on the advertising boards int he first half, we didn’t see it in the second half. Brand Pogba took a big hit on Sunday.
LIVERPOOL LET OFF THE HOOK
United let Liverpool’s defense off the hook throughout this game.
Both Pogba and Henrik Mkhitaryan surged through huge gaps in Liverpool’s defense in the first half both Pogba dragged his effort wide and Mkhitaryan was denied by the brilliant Simon Mignolet in goal for Liverpool.
Mignolet also denied Ibrahimovic’s powerful low free kick in the first half and in the second half a giveaway from Trent Alexander-Arnold let Mkhitaryan race free down the right but his cross was missed by Anthony Martial under pressure.
14 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 14 goals in his first 20 PL games - the same total as Alan Shearer and Sergio Aguero. Elite.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 15, 2017
United had the better scoring chances, by far, but looked rushed, panicked and like Pogba’s performance it seemed like the pressure was a little too much for them to handle.
For the equalizer Wayne Rooney, who had jumped off the bench at half time, used plenty of his experience to cross in and another sub, Marouane Fellaini, saw his header hit the post before Antonio Valencia pulled the ball back for Ibrahimovic to brilliantly head home. United let a much-changed Liverpool side off the hook. Simple as that.
KLOPP, MOURINHO STALEMATE... AGAIN
Klopp has now lost just one of his seven games against Mourinho as a manager and the Liverpool boss got his tactics spot on for most of the game on Sunday.
Lining up with a diamond in midfield from the start, Adam Lallana nullified Michael Carrick’s influence and Klopp’s gameplan worked well up until the 60th minute. Mourinho had to go more direct, and it worked, but a draw was what neither manager wanted but had to begrudgingly accept. More often than not, they cancel each other out and Mourinho and Klopp now drawn four of their seven games against one another.
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For Liverpool, they are now seven points off leaders Chelsea but they are also just five points ahead of sixth-place United. It is all to play for with 17 games of the Premier League season to go as Liverpool and United drew their two games against each other this season.
What now for United? They sit 12 points behind leaders Chelsea but more importantly four points away from the top four and are just two points behind fifth-place after Man City’s defeat at Everton earlier on Sunday. United remain in the hunt but Klopp will be the happier manager after this draw at Old Trafford.