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Here’s how Klopp tactically outfoxed Mourinho in the 3-1 win at Anfield – pure brilliance from the Liverpool boss

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Tactic Talk – How Liverpool got the better of Mourinho’s Man United

Liverpool regained top spot in the league with a rather comfortable 3-1 win over their fierce rivals Manchester United at Anfield. Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri (x2) were on target for the Reds, while Jesse Lingard scored the only goal for the Red Devils.

It was a game where the possession of Liverpool was up against the defensive structure of United. The home side created a host of chances and had 36 attempts on goal, compared to away side’s six.

Below we analyse the game in terms of tactics and look at how Jose Mourinho’s bus wasn’t well parked at Anfield last night:

Tactical Analysis

First Half

As shown in the above image, this was the average formation of both teams in the first half. Liverpool played with a 4-4-2 formation, having Sadio Mane on the right wing, Naby Keita in the half-space left, Roberto Firmino playing in and around the striker, Mohamed Salah. Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum played as a double pivot in the midfield.

United started with a 5-3-2 shape, with Marcus Rashford supporting Romelu Lukaku up top and other eight players just defending.

The first half hour of the game was a pure explosion from the home side and the away team couldn’t handle it. The runs from Andy Robertson on the left was key, as he was given the freedom due to Keita’s movements in the half-space.

The United midfield wasn’t pressing enough and was falling deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked by. As a result, Liverpool had it easy in finding spaces in and around the box. Whenever the away side tried to bring the ball away through the midfield, the pressing was superb from the hosts.

Image result for liverpool 3-1 manchester united

The first goal was a result of Fabinho getting space in the midfield. The Brazilian then clipped a straight ball behind the defence to find Mane, who did well to take the ball on the chest and get the shot away in one motion to beat David de Gea.

United did equalise when Lukaku found space on the left wing and put a good cross in. Just as if we thought Alisson will take control, the Brazilian spilt the ball and Lingard was there on hand to score.

However, the disappointing aspect of Mourinho’s men was that they never really pushed on after scoring the goal. Liverpool regained control of the game and kept probing.

Second Half

United changed to a back-four after the break, with Lingard now further forward on the right wing. Marouane Fellaini was brought in to put more attention into the midfield spaces which were too open for the home side to exploit.

The switch did work for the first 20 minutes of the half as the Red Devils were more compact and ready to press in the right spaces in their own half to deny an easy route for the Liverpool attackers. The game started to peter away though, after the 70th-minute mark.

That is when Jurgen Klopp made the clever change of bringing on Xherdan Shaqiri in place of Naby Keita. Mane was switched to the left-hand side and the Swiss maestro played in the half-space on the right side.

From the first minute, he looked determined to make things happen and quicken the play up in the attacking third. Two minutes after that substitution, Mane went past Ander Herrera on the byline with ease and put the ball across the six-yard box. De Gea made the initial interception to clear the danger but Shaqiri was there at the edge of the box to score, via Ashley Young’s deflection.

Image result for liverpool 3-1 manchester united

The question is though, how the scorer got the freedom of Anfield at the edge of the opposition box to score – it is because the United midfield started to fall deep again.

The third goal too came due to the fact that the away side stopped doing what they did in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Liverpool built from the back without pressure and Shaqiri played the one-two with Firmino. The latter again had the space around the box to shoot and it went in via a deflection off Eric Bailly this time.

The scoreline clearly reflects the way this game went. The Reds were in control from minute one to ninety, and United have only themselves to blame. Mourinho’s defensive tactic didn’t work just because his team weren’t aggressive where it was needed. The midfield was passive and it felt like they were concerned about the runs in behind rather than the space in front of them.


This win puts Liverpool at the top of the table, a point ahead of Manchester City. United are now 19 points behind the league leaders and fall further behind in the race for a top-four finish. The context is frightening for the Old Trafford faithful, who are watching their team fall apart like nine pins.

Read More: Liverpool would be able to beat Man City to the title if they sign this £26m Bundesliga star in January

As for the Reds, the title charge is on and they need to just take it game by game and concentrate on winning games, that will eventually put a lot of pressure on City.