Football Features

“Thiago has arrived” – Player ratings from a hard-fought 0-0 draw between Liverpool and league leaders Manchester United

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:54, 17 January 2021 | Updated: 11:36, 25 January 2021

In a tight and tense afternoon of football, Manchester United and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

The result keeps United atop the Premier League by two points, with Liverpool behind Leicester in third (although Manchester City can now go top if they win both their games in-hand).

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:

Liverpool

Alisson – 8 – Had nothing to do for an hour but then began to make his presence known. Made a series of massive saves late in the game, including one spectacular one to deny Bruno Fernandes.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6 – Passing was wayward and struggled with United’s forward runs.

Fabinho – 8 – Very impressive at the back with numerous big blocks to cut United attacks off at key moments. Really stepped up to lead Liverpool’s defence and one moment of running Rashford out of trouble without even making a tackle was worthy of Virgil van Dijk.

Jordan Henderson – 7 – Generally solid.

Andrew Robertson – 7 – Made countless runs forward and often went ignored by team-mates. Solid at the back,

Thiago – 9 – Ladies and gentleman, Thiago has arrived. Head and shoulders above every single player on the park. So effortless in evading the press, perceptive with his passing, and contributed defensively too. He even managed to commit several fouls and not get booked, Fernandinho-style. The man exudes class and control and United couldn’t lay a glove on him.

There is literally nothing Thiago cannot do and it’s just a crying shame that there were no fans in here to witness his Anfield debut because this was honestly well-worth the wait and build-up. Thiago is a game-changing signing and this game showed the extent to which he can devour the opposition. Once the Liverpool forwards find their shooting boots, duck and cover!

Georginio Wijnaldum – 7 – Worked hard.

Xherdan Shaqiri – 7 – Found space between the lines and advanced the ball a lot. Never a threat but knitted Liverpool’s attacks together. Subbed off.

Roberto Firmino – 4 – Moved nicely, shot awfully. He received the biggest “boost” when Diogo Jota got injured and yet he hasn’t taken advantage. As soon as the Portuguese is fully fit you’d be surprised if Firmino started another big game for the Reds. What he usually brings the team is just too easy to defend against and he’s not a deadly enough goalscorer to play as an orthodox nine. Bobby Firmino is the answer to a question that Liverpool are no longer asking.

Sadio Mané – 6 – Some delicious turns away from pressure in the early game. Often looked Liverpool’s biggest threat whenever he could escape Wan-Bissaka’s clutches.

Mohamed Salah – 4 – Some nice twists and turns but didn’t do anywhere near enough with the ball. Another timid display against Manchester United for the usually electric Egyptian.

Substitutes:

Curtis Jones (for Shaqiri 76′) – 5 – Added nothing. In fact probably blunted the Liverpool attack by removing Shaqiri’s link play.

Divock Origi (for Firmino 85′) – n/a – Came on late.

James Milner (for Wijnaldum 89′) – n/a – Came on late.

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Manchester United

David de Gea – 7 – Had little to do. Truly. One save from Thiago perhaps the most difficult save but you’d expect him to make it.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 8 – Defended superbly, locking down his flank with his usual level of absurd assurance. Even managed to make some impact in attack, creating a fantastic chance for Pogba late on.

Victor Lindelof – 7 – Very impressive at clearing the ball when United were settled in their rearguard but looked a bit ropey and had to be bailed out by Harry Maguire when United’s defence was in motion.

Harry Maguire – 8 – Defended with superb authority. This was the display that United were expecting when they paid all that money. Organised his defence, dominated in the air, dealt with crosses and put his foot in when he had to.

Luke Shaw – 9 – An absolutely magnificent performance from Luke Shaw. The outstanding player on the field for Manchester United. Put Mohamed Salah in his pocket and never let him out. Handled Roberto Firmino and Xherdan Shaqiri when he had to as well and created the game’s best chance with a lovely run and cross.

Shaw was utterly magnificent and if he can keep this level of performance up then Manchester United may finally have gotten the world-class left-back they thought they were signing all those years ago.

Scott McTominay – 7 – Completely out of his depth trying to handle Mané. Defended set-pieces well, however, and against anyone that wasn’t Mané he recovered possession well and even used the ball nicely.

Fred – 8 – Combative from first whistle to last. Flew about the field launching into tackles with relentless abandon (he had 12, more than twice as much as anyone else) and for once it actually felt like he was in control of his own limbs.

Paul Pogba – 5 – Some excellent build-up play but his passing was just off. His movement given he was out of position was actually impressive but he missed several chances to play early passes and create danger, moreover he wasted a fantastic choice to win the game late on when he shot straight at Alisson.

Bruno Fernandes – 5 – Anonymous for an hour. Immediately came alive once Cavani came on but very little he did came off. A bad day.

Anthony Martial – 4 – One great run in the first half aside, he made precious little contribution to the game and wasted counter-attacks with silly decisions and sloppy play. Probably not fit, but still, poor.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Worked hard but was constantly offside first-half. Couldn’t time his runs right. He picked up once he moved to left-wing but wasn’t really able to threaten the Liverpool defence like he’d have wanted.

Substitutes:

Edinson Cavani (for Martial 61′) – 6 – Pressed well. Gave United more of a presence in attack with his excellent link-play with back to goal.

Mason Greenwood (for Fernandes 89′) – n/a – Came on late.