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MAN UTD 0-0 LIVERPOOL: 5 TALKING POINTS FROM OLD TRAFFORD STALEMATE

MAN UTD 0-0 LIVERPOOL: 5 TALKING POINTS FROM OLD TRAFFORD STALEMATE

Neither side was able to find the breakthrough at Old Trafford – but there were plenty of injuries

Liverpool moved a point clear of Manchester City in the title race as a cagey affair against Manchester United ended goalless.

United remarkably had to make all three of their substitutions in the first half, as Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard were all injured.

The hosts shaded the encounter with Lingard and Paul Pogba missing the game’s best chances, but the result means they slip behind Arsenal into fifth place in the table.

The match never lived up to the pre-game hype, with neither side willing to risk too much going forward.

Both sides are back in action on Wednesday, with United travelling to Crystal Palace and Liverpool hosting Watford .

Here are five talking points from Old Trafford…

1. United’s injury troubles leave squad at breaking point

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With Nemanja Matic and Antony Martial missing from the squad altogether, the last thing United needed was further casualties.

But they were amazingly forced into using all three of their substitutions before half-time.

First Ander Herrera had to be replaced by Andreas Pereira after just 20 minutes and worse was to follow minutes later as Juan Mata also limped off, with a clearly not-fully-fit Jesse Lingard coming on in his place.

This was a bad move, as Lingard himself lasted under 20 minutes and had to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez.

With big games against the likes of Arsenal and PSG coming up, United fans will be praying there are no further issues as the squad is pushed to the absolute limits.

2. Caginess the order of the day

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With the stakes so high, perhaps it should come as no surprise that this ended up being a safety-first sort of match, with neither side willing to risk too much going forward.

This has become something of a trend in recent games between the two old enemies, with only three games out of their last ten encounters producing more than two goals.

Indeed, this drab affair was the third 0-0 between the two in three seasons.

We are long overdue a cracker in this historic fixture. Here’s hoping next season’s encounters will be more entertaining.

3. Big attacking players fail to step up

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With so much attacking talent on the pitch, it was a shame not one of them had a match to remember.

United’s Marcus Rashford appeared to suffer a knock early on which kept him subdued, while Paul Pogba was also quiet, missing a great chance with a weak header early in the second half.

Liverpool ’s main threat Mohamed Salah buzzed about early on without ever really stamping his authority on the game and Sadio Mane was virtually anonymous.

Defences certainly came out on top in this one.

4. A point not a bad result for either side

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Whilst they would have dearly loved to move three points clear in the title race, Liverpool shouldn’t feel too disappointed with a draw.

Derby matches are notoriously difficult to predict, and to survive the hate-filled atmosphere of Old Trafford with a crowd and team desperate to dent their title bid and avoid defeat will no doubt please Jurgen Klopp.

United, meanwhile, slip down to fifth in their hunt for a Champions League spot, but will know their mid-May match against Arsenal may be the decisive one.

Overall after a period of reflection neither side should be devastated by failing to get the three points.

5. Does Solskjaer deserve some criticism?

For all the justified praise Solskjaer has received in his successful spell so far as United caretaker manager, he made one big decisions today which massively backfired and altered the match.

When Mata went off, why did he decide to replace him with Lingard above the fully fit Sanchez?

Although Solskjaer was not at fault for the injuries themselves, he should not have risked Lingard knowing United only had one substitution remaining.

Being unable to make a change towards the end of the match hindered United, and who knows what a fresh pair of legs could have done for them in the last 15 minutes or so.

Mirror football

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