Manchester United produced a much improved performance at Old Trafford to kick-start their season at the expensive of slow starting Liverpool.
Original article published 29 August 2022
A goal in each half helped Manchester United on their way to a 2-1 win over fierce rivals Liverpool as Erik ten Haag recorded his first win in the Premier League.
After a disastrous start for United, losing their two opening fixtures, they gained their first three points of the campaign as goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford piled the misery on Jürgen Klopp, whose side are still without a league win this season.
Boss ten Haag made the bold decision to drop club captain Harry Maguire and talismanic figure Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting XI, and it seemed to pay dividends with United approaching the fixture with all the intensity and vigour that their opening fixtures had lacked.
Erik ten Haag’s men created headlines for all the wrong reasons last week, when the 13-time winners of the Premier League came in as short as 25/1 To be Relegated, from a previous price of 2500/1.
The manner of their victory over bitter rivals Liverpool seemed to alleviate fears of an unprecedented relegation however, with odds doubling out to 50/1 for Manchester United To be Relegated.
Spurred on by their passionate home crowd United pressed and harried Liverpool relentlessly, ironically in the same fashion that Liverpool themselves have developed a reputation for doing, fully deserving their victory despite only having 30% possession of the ball.
The breakthrough almost came after just 11 minutes, when Anthony Elanga missed a guilt-edge opportunity which struck the post. However, Elanga would make amends five minutes later when he teed up Jadon Sancho to score his first goal of the season with a cool finish from inside the area.
Liverpool settled in to the game without creating anything of note in the first half, the equaliser almost came when Bruno Fernandes nearly fired the ball in to his own net following a scramble from a corner. The Portuguese international had Lisandro Martinez to thank as the Argentine blocked the ball on the line.
Sancho then turned provider for team-mate Marcus Rashford after the break when the England stars combined and Rashford slipped ball past goalkeeper Alisson at his near post.
Rashford almost had a brace minutes later when poor Liverpool defending allowed the 24-year-old to wriggle through three soft challenges and fire a powerful drive at goal that just skimmed the top of the bar.
Mohamed Salah grabbed a consolation goal in the closing stages with a predatory header from a corner, but it was too little too late for last season’s Champions League runners up.
The victory sees a rejuvinated United climb to 14th in the table, four points away from the Champions League places, while the result leaves Jürgen Klopp with plenty to ponder before his team host recently promoted Bournemouth on Saturday, with his side lingering outside the drop zone in 16th with just two points recorded from three games.
Such is the nature of football that one win can transform a season, United have climbed back above Newcastle as sixth-favourite to make the Champions League this season, at a price of 4/1 To Finish in Top 4.
The optimists among the Manchester United fan base may also fancy ten Haag’s revived men to go one step further and win the Premier League title, Manchester United To Win Outright is now 50/1.