Football News

Solskjaer happy with “strides”, but are they Liverpool’s toughest home test in this PL season?

By Harry Edwards

Liverpool vs Man Utd | Premier League

Published: 21:56, 21 January 2020

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the manner of his side’s defeat to Liverpool shows they are moving forward.

The Red Devils lost 2-0 at Anfield to the Premier League’s runaway leaders, missing the chance to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea.

United went into the game as the only Premier League team to take points off Liverpool this season, having drawn at Old Trafford, and were looking to end their rivals’ unbeaten run.

Are Man Utd showing signs of growth? Five things to know…

  • Manchester United lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the Premier League.
  • The Red Devils are now 30 points behind the league leaders.
  • But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side showed progress in the defeat.
  • Virgil van Dijk opened the scoring and Mohamed Salah only added a second in injury time.
  • Solskjaer has faced a lot of criticism for United’s performances this season.

But their tough task, without Marcus Rashford who could be out for at least six weeks with a back injury was made harder when Virgil van Dijk gave Liverpool a first-half lead. Roberto Firmino thought he had doubled the advantage but saw his effort ruled out for a foul by Van Dijk on David de Gea.

United weren’t without their chances and could have equalised through Anthony Martial but the Frenchman blazed an effort over the bar with just Alisson to beat.

Liverpool eventually confirmed the win in the final moments on injury time with Mohamed Salah scoring his first Premier League goal against United, to send the Reds 16 points clear at the top of the table.

But despite losing, Solskjaer believes his side’s performance against Liverpool shows they are making progress amid calls for the Norwegian to be sacked and requests for new signings from former United full-back Gary Neville.

“We’ve lost to Liverpool, a team that you all say are fantastic, and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball and for me, that’s strides forward,” he told reporters.

“Of course we’re disappointed losing the game, we don’t want to be behind them in the league, but there were signs there that we are on the right track. Definitely.

“For me, now is not the time to start talking about the recruitment. For me now we’re looking towards the next game against Burnley.

“Yeah, we’re always looking to improve the squad, we’re looking to improve the club, but from my mind now is not the time, Gary, to start that discussion.”

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Liverpool’s toughest Anfield opponents this Premier League season so far?

Solskjaer has already received a lot of criticism on social media for his remarks, with some fans believing him taking pride in a defeat shows how United have fallen. But does he have a point?

Liverpool have been perfect in the Premier League at home this season, winning all of their 12 games, scoring 31 and conceding just nine. Extending that run, the Reds are unbeaten at Anfield in the league for 52 games since Crystal Palace won 2-1 on April 23, 2017.

Although Liverpool’s win over United looked comfortable, the visitors did make it hard for the Reds. They managed just five shots on target – their second lowest amount in the Premier League this season, with only Wolverhampton Wanderers restricting them to fewer (three).

United also had four shots on target on Sunday with only Brighton and Norwich (both five) managing more at Anfield in the Premier League this season – though they both faced seven shots on target themselves.

The Red Devils have the joint-best record in the Premier League this season when it comes to shots at Anfield, averaging 0.8 shots on target themselves to every shot on target faced, alongside Everton.