Dubai: Every so often you get a freak result that nobody could have predicted which catches everyone by surprise. That is what we got when Liverpool hit seven past Manchester United in the Premier League clash at Anfield. United were actually the favourites to win and close the gap on league leaders Arsenal and keep their quadruple hopes alive. But Liverpool had other plans.
Whilst Jurgen Klopp’s hopes for a top-four finish have been reignited, the severity of the defeat poses a threat to United’s season. Despite prior beliefs of Liverpool being in crisis and United making a comeback, this match proved otherwise.
Liverpool had shown glimpses of their form in recent weeks but their performance in this match took them to a whole new level. With Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, and Mohamed Salah scoring two goals each, and Roberto Firmino finishing off with one, they achieved a record-breaking victory.
Incredibly, one of the players that did most of the damage could have been playing for United if things had gone differently. Gakpo was on the Old Trafford club’s radar however Liverpool managed to get a deal done for the former PSV striker and he has been an exceptional since his £37 million January transfer. He exhibited his electric pace and killer instincts and got the opening goal just before halftime with a fantastic finish and followed it up with a superb third goal. In just two months at his new club, he has already scored three goals proving that the money spent on him was well worth it. How United will be regretting for not pushing the boat out to secure his transfer.
For Erik Ten Hag and co, this was a harsh reminder of reality just a week after their League Cup win over Newcastle. It was their biggest defeat in the Premier League and the second half saw them collapse after only being down 1-0 at halftime. They were let down badly by several key players. Luke Shaw put in a decent performance in the first half and has been one of their shining lights this season. But the England defender was atrocious in the second period and it was his poor pass that led to Liverpool’s second goal. He also lost his temper as his frustrations grew and was lucky to remain on the pitch after a clash with Darwin Nunez.
A lot to prove
It was also a night to forget for Brazilian winger Antony. He came close in the first half with a decent effort but was anonymous in the second 45. For a player that cost £85 million he still has a lot to prove but United’s biggest disappointment was Portugal international Bruno Fernandes. The captain let the team down badly. He was very poor on the ball but what will worry Ten Hag more is the way he sulked when things started to fall apart rather than fight for the cause. He looked to have given up well before the end of the match and also could have seen red when he pushed the linesman.
After this hammering the notion that United could overtake Arsenal in the league seems to be nothing more than wishful thinking. This devastating defeat has surely eliminated any possibility of them winning four trophies this season. The severity of the loss could even disrupt their progress in the Europa League and FA Cup. Ten Hag deserves credit for transforming the team but he must now prove he is a top-class coach by inspiring his side and getting them back on track after this debacle. He cannot let one result allow the rest of the season to suffer. Does he have the resilience needed to succeed? Time will tell.