What We Learned: Manchester United can still win the Premier League


Manchester United earned a 0-0 draw at Anfield with an excellent defensive performance that denied the best offensive side in the league. Despite holding much of the possession, Liverpool failed to do anything with it, ultimately wasting time on the ball. For much of the game, Liverpool’s players looked happy to keep United out of their half, though many pundits and the media will ignore that fact. Ander Herrera and David De Gea were the best players on the pitch, with De Gea pulling out two historic saves to deny individual Liverpool efforts.

David De Gea is the best player in the Premier League

There are so many players in the Premier League, unlike other leagues, who provide outstanding talent and incredible technique, even in the lower sides. The likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Dimitri Payet, and Riyad Mahrez showcase this, but no talent in the Premier League is as consistent as David De Gea. For three years and now a fourth, he has been the best player for the biggest club in England and the richest club in England. United has spent over £450 million on players in the past four seasons but didn’t get the same return as the money paid for De Gea, who has been consistently spectacular.

The saves from Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can were incredible today. The Premier League channel published clips of the Coutinho effort against other teams and the goalkeepers were left helpless. De Gea made it look easy, completely nullifying any threat. The psychological game is so much more difficult for opposition forwards when playing against a goalkeeper who will deny almost anything thrown at him, and it’s beginning to defy physics.

Possession officially means nothing in football

Possession used to be the be-all-end-all of football around five years ago, but now, it’s not the case. Liverpool wasted so much time on the ball because of a reluctance to lose it and move it around quicker. Both sides would’ve had more time to score. Liverpool had nine attempts and United had seven, so all the talk of Liverpool dominating the match is nonsense.

Dominating match isn’t about holding the ball a lot, it’s about the territory and ability to create chances. Much of the match was played in the middle third, and Liverpool struggled to create chances until Adam Lallana was introduced. United was very efficient with the ball, and will need slightly more of it, along with better performances from the front three of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford.

Ander Herrera played a great match of football again

Paul Pogba cost £89 million, but he’s still nothing on Ander Herrera, who continues to play excellent football. With only 35% of the ball, Herrera still touched the ball 90 times, made five tackles and had an incredible defensive game. He was everywhere, winning the ball and passing it forward quickly, starting attacks and shutting down Liverpool’s attacking midfield. It was a performance to remember from one of Van Gaal’s best buys at Manchester United, regardless of how much credit the Dutchman can take for his purchase. Mourinho has made him a defensive midfielder with discipline and all his buccaneering qualities have become strengths instead of the weaknesses they were when he practically played as a second striker.

United can win the Premier League

People are already writing United off from winning the Premier League, but they’ve played their worst football of the season in the first eight games and are already looking very good. The ability to draw at one of the most difficult stadiums in the Premier League and shut out the best offensive side is massive. United is five points behind with thirty games to play- how can anyone say they’re out of the Premier League race? Times are much better than they have been over the past three years, but United must be wary, because Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Everton are also in much better periods than before. Do not underestimate the quality of this United side, but back them up, because the potential to be a very good side is embedded in the complete spoils of options for players in this squad.

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