Alisson (second left) saves from Paul Pogba (right)
Alisson did brilliantly to block Paul Pogba’s fierce strike

Manchester United stayed top of the Premier League with a mediocre goalless stalemate against champions Liverpool at Anfield.

It was a game that failed to justify the pre-match anticipation and while United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be happier with a point than Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, he will also know they had the better chances to claim a statement victory.

Liverpool dominated possession in the first half but it was United who came closest when Bruno Fernandes’ 20-yard free-kick curled inches wide.

Fernandes was then thwarted after the break by the outstretched leg of Liverpool keeper Alisson before Thiago’s long-range effort finally brought the previously unemployed David de Gea into action.

Alisson was Liverpool’s hero late on when he blocked Paul Pogba’s drive from point-blank range.

The result leaves United two points ahead of Leicester City in second. Liverpool, who have scored just one goal in their past four league games, are a point behind the Foxes in third.

Manchester City will move up to second, two points behind United, if they beat Crystal Palace in Sunday’s late game (19:15 GMT).

Liverpool and Klopp frustrated again

Manchester United's Luke Shaw (left) and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah
Liverpool have failed to score in any of their past three Premier League matches – their longest run since another three-match spell in March 2005

Liverpool manager Klopp cut a frustrated figure pretty much from the first whistle, his voice booming around Anfield with a tone of displeasure, showing unhappiness with his own players and officials.

Klopp’s team, so used to steamrollering all before them in recent times, are going through a very dry spell and barely created an opening worthy of the name here against a resolute Manchester United defence.

Too often Liverpool’s approach play ended with a careless pass or an aimless cross and the longer this game went on the more United looked the more likely winners.

It was perhaps inevitable Liverpool would be unable to maintain their relentless style but there will be concerns they have now gone four league games without a win since Crystal Palace were demolished 7-0 at Selhurst Park.

Before this draw, West Bromwich Albion left Anfield with a point while Liverpool also had a goalless draw at Newcastle United and lost at Southampton.

Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are currently feeding off scraps while Roberto Firmino’s impact was so minimal that he was withdrawn near the end, even with Liverpool chasing a goal.

A team as good as Liverpool will not remain off the boil for too long but there is no doubt they are currently struggling for form and spark. The fact this is their longest barren sequence in the league since March 2005 tells the tale.

Did Man Utd miss a big chance?

Liverpool and Manchester United players
Manchester United failed to record a shot on target in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since they played Watford in December 2019

Manchester United may have a taken a point before this game and there will be justified satisfaction that they subdued Liverpool so completely, created the game’s best chances and remain at the top of the table.

And yet there must also be disappointment that they could not cash in completely on an off-colour Liverpool, with reality dawning on them very late that they could take all three points.

Fernandes, despite being poor in general, almost unlocked Liverpool twice while Solskjaer and his backroom team threw their hands up in frustration as other good positions were wasted late on.

In the final reckoning, however, there will be few complaints at this outcome, which leaves them three points ahead of Liverpool with the visit to Anfield negotiated without mishap.

United were well organised and grew into the game after a poor opening half-hour and had real defensive heroes in captain Harry Maguire and left-back Luke Shaw, with the latter in particular outstanding.

It is a display that will give them increased confidence and belief as they lead the pack – although they might just look back and think a point could so easily have been three.

‘It was an opportunity missed’ – reaction

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, speaking to BBC Sport:

“It’s only a good result if we win the next game.

“It was an opportunity missed with the chances we had, but then again we were playing a very good side. I’m disappointed, but still a point is OK if you win the next one.

“We have improved and progressed. It’s not just the result we’re disappointed with, it’s some of the performance. I know these boys can play better.

“Fair play to them – with two central midfielders at the back and to defend as well as they did, showed their quality.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BBC Sport:

“The performance was good and the first half was exceptionally good.

“With all the things that were said before the game about – United are flying and we were struggling – and then to play this kind of game, I was happy with that.

“We tried in the second half again, but you cannot deny United over 90 minutes, not with the counter-attacking threat they have. So they had two really good chances, I have to say, but we had our chances in the second half as well.

“The way we understood the game, the way we felt the game, the way we read the moments were really good. But it is not exactly how it should be so we have space for improvement, absolutely. We will keep working on that.”

Man Utd extend unbeaten run on the road – stats

  • Liverpool and Manchester United have drawn 0-0 at Anfield in the league three times in the past five seasons, as many times as in the previous 48 top-flight campaigns.
  • United are unbeaten in their past 16 away matches in the Premier League (W12 D4) – only once have they gone longer without a defeat on the road in the competition (17 games ending in September 1999).
  • Liverpool are now unbeaten in their past 68 Premier League games at Anfield, earning 178 out of a possible 204 points over this run.
  • United are the first side to stop Liverpool scoring at Anfield in a Premier League match since Manchester City in October 2018 – this was Liverpool’s 43rd home league game since then.
  • Under Klopp, Liverpool are unbeaten in all seven of their Premier League games at Anfield when facing the side starting the day top of the table (W3 D4).
  • Marcus Rashford was caught offside five times in this match, the most of any Premier League player this season and the most by a United player since Robin van Persie (six) against Spurs in January 2013.

What’s next?

United are at Fulham in the league on Wednesday (20:15 GMT) and Liverpool host Burnley on Thursday (20:00). Next Sunday, Manchester United and Liverpool will meet again – at Old Trafford this time – in the FA Cup fourth round, a match you can watch live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

Player of the match

AlissonAlisson

Line-ups

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 3FabinhoBooked at 66mins
  • 14Henderson
  • 26Robertson
  • 23ShaqiriBooked at 33minsSubstituted forJonesat 76′minutes
  • 6Thiago Alcántara
  • 5WijnaldumSubstituted forMilnerat 89′minutes
  • 11Salah
  • 9FirminoSubstituted forOrigiat 85′minutes
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 7Milner
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 17Jones
  • 18Minamino
  • 27Origi
  • 46R Williams
  • 47Phillips
  • 62Kelleher
  • 76N Williams

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 5Maguire
  • 23Shaw
  • 39McTominay
  • 17Fred
  • 6Pogba
  • 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forGreenwoodat 89′minutes
  • 9MartialSubstituted forCavaniat 61′minutes
  • 10RashfordBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 3Bailly
  • 7Cavani
  • 8Mata
  • 11Greenwood
  • 26Henderson
  • 27Telles
  • 31Matic
  • 34van de Beek
  • 38Tuanzebe

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