Belfast Telegraph

Toothless Liverpool shown up by average Manchester United

By Steven Beacom: The Verdict

Manchester United have won their last six matches in the Premier League.

They have done so scoring 13 goals and only conceding three. When Manchester City beat them in the derby in the first weekend of November, United were in 10th position in the table, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and just five above the relegation zone.

Louis van Gaal's side are now third, eight points adrift of Jose Mourinho's men. It all sounds like this is a United team on the charge. It doesn't really feel that way though.

This may change in the future as the Dutchman signs more highly priced players, but right now in a league that has plenty of drama, but is short on genuine top quality, the bottom line is that Manchester United are nothing special.

So, where does that place Liverpool then who yesterday were defeated 3-0 at Old Trafford? In a mess, that's where!

The Anfield outfit were eliminated from the Champions League last week, are 10th in the Premier League, a staggering 18 points behind Chelsea and only seven above the bottom three. In 16 matches this season Liverpool have now lost more than they have won.

With every fixture, the pressure mounts on Brendan Rodgers. He may be searching for solutions to solve his team's problems, but at the home of their fiercest rivals when a positive result would have seen some of the sins of the season forgiven by supporters, all connected with the club were left with that empty feeling that has become commonplace since August. The Ulsterman knows this can't keep going on.

As he pointed out after the final whistle, Liverpool created chances yesterday, but when his players fail to take them anticipation leads to disappointment, despair and defeat.

Raheem Sterling, with more confidence and composure in front of goal, would have left Old Trafford with the match ball. Instead, David de Gea, who like whatever Liverpool goalkeeper plays also has a shaky defence in front of him, got the better of the youngster every time.

De Gea's best save though was one to deny Mario Balotelli, brought off the bench at the break by Rodgers, who started without a recognised striker,

That wasn't the only big call. Brad Jones came in for Simon Mignolet and there was a three-man central defence. Changes, but once again the backline was found wanting.

Midfielders like Joe Allen and Phillipe Coutinho didn't help either with derelictions of defensive duty which led to Wayne Rooney's opener, calmly swept home by the United skipper.

An offside Juan Mata and Robin van Persie also found the net. Ruthless v toothless. And Rodgers was left with more questions than answers. He needs to locate the latter extremely quickly.

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