Monday, 14 September 2015

Manchester united vs Liverpool: Possession vs counter attack

Manchester united and Liverpool came into this game with different intentions United came with their normal possession style with a heavy emphasis on horizontal ball circulation and Liverpool came to counter but would've been more than happy with a draw.

When the lineups for the game was announced i was shocked to see that Fellaini was playing upfront on his own as the lone striker. I and im sure most people anticipated that Liverpool was going to play the diamond with Ings and Benteke upfront and Firmino behind but instead they went with the 4-3-3 playing Ings and Firmino on the sides which is not their natural game.

Liverpools defensive shape

When United were building from the back in Liverpool's shape was somewhat 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 with either Can or Milner stepping up to help Benteke pressure the united back line but as united advanced with the ball Liverpool shape became 4-1-4-1 with Lucas protecting the space in between the lines.

Heres the defensive shape in full united found it difficult to play through the middle at times but was happy to circulate the ball around the sides of the Liverpool block.

This 4-1-4-1 shape did a good job of protecting the central areas in the first half although Ings was at times unsure whether to track the outside run of Darmian or cover the space inside and on a number of occasions he was caught out leaving Darmian or at times Mata free as he was slow to react but thats what you get if you play players out of position.

United Possession with no real conviction

No surprise when you see at the end of the game United had more possession, more touches and shots they controlled the game easily from start to finish. The key to United controlling was down Carrick and Schweinsteiger  the positions they were taking up was allowing united to control the game from side to side but with no real penetration . Also the disciplined performances of the wingers staying out wide to stretch the play and allow easier ball circulation. 

At times the movement and positioning  in central areas was non existent and you just feel if united  could have achieved this it would have provoked Liverpool to press opening up spaces to create better chances.The only players in central areas really trying to open up space were Schweinsteiger and Carrick who didn't look to stay in a line they moved both vertically and horizontally creating unpredictability which united lacked dramatically.

Emphasing Schweinsteigers control of the game:

74 Successful passes and 106 touches both more than anyone else on the pitch shows his true class a dominant midfield player that Man utd have needed for years even under Fergie.

Young on for Depay changed the game

For me the substitution of Young for Depay was key in Uniteds fortune changing. In the first half United lacked pace and directness all the side to side possession was not challenging Liverpool defensively as everything was infront and easy to defend. Depay struggled 1v1 against Clyne who did well to show him on his left on numerous Occassions with Depay only completing 1 out of 6 crosses. Young came on and made a instant impact winning a free kick which united scored from. 

The partnership between Young and Shaw is a much stronger one than Shaw and Depay which im sure will only strengthen with time. The understanding of when to occupy the half space leaving the space for Shaw, when to support Shaw both offensively and defensively was much better with Young and that's the reason Shaw got forward more in the second half. This movement of positions was what united needed some unpredictability instead of the backwards and side-wards passing which is extremely predictable and frustrating to watch.

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