Manchester United finally got their chance to play against Liverpool, after an infamous postponement, but they did not manage to do better than comfortably losing at Old Trafford. Jurgen Klopp’s side won 4-2, showing quality in attacking areas that Man United have for the most part missed when playing against the big six sides in the Premier League this season. Still, it was a match from which we could learn certain things, as we did right after the game, but here are some other observations, after consulting with the underlying numbers.
Liverpool Show Better Finishing
This sounds obvious when we see United have lost 2-4, but certain elements of the metrics are suggesting interesting things. When looking at the expected numbers alone, Liverpool were not that better, not even for one goal, because on average, they would be expected to score 2.6 goals from the quality of their chances, while Man United finished the game with exactly 2.0 expected goals. That shows Liverpool’s finishing was above average on the night, but there is also another thing. Both Man United and Liverpool have made 17 shots each, but there was a huge discrepancy in how good those shots were. Man United made just two shots on target and both ended up being goals, while Liverpool had eight, making sure Dean Henderson was truly busy.
United Allow Better Opportunities
And he was. Henderson made some mistakes, one of them directly led to a Liverpool goal, but he also made four saves. Despite saving four shots, four shots still went past him, showing just how much he was left in the open. One of the reasons for that is that Man United have allowed Liverpool shots from more central areas. In fact, Liverpool had 11 shots coming from the central areas of the 18-yard box alone! Defensive problems United had last night with McTominay and Fred in front of a duo of Lindelof and Bailly have shown once more that the spine of this team is far from that absolute high level that is necessary for teams fighting for trophies.
Cavani Proves His Link-Up Qualities
We have spoken numerous times about Man United having in Edinson Cavani what they do not have in any other forward at the club – his incredible work-rate that offers the side great link-up play, ability to bring others in the game and also be a real goalscoring threat. Against Liverpool, he did not manage to score from the two shots he made, but he was able to create the goal for Marcus Rashford. And that was not all he did. Cavani also managed to complete just 16 passes, but from them, he made two of them in the final third, made one assist and was part of four shot-creating actions. He also made five successful pressures when he was out of possession and even added four successful tackles and interceptions trying to help the team win the ball back.
It remains unknown how much United will be able to get out of him next season and hopefully he will be able to stay healthy, because at 34, Cavani is still showing this team what they do not have in other players.