Young shackles Salah as Klopp’s front four falter at Old Trafford

Jurgen Klopp was adamant after the game that Liverpool merited a point at Old Trafford, but later in the same interview conceded that his team had been poor in the crucial moments of the match.
Young shackles Salah as Klopp’s front four falter at Old Trafford

Liverpool did not do enough to push Manchester United

There is an oxymoron in his argument.

Nobody could doubt that Liverpool had more of the ball in the second half, nor that they put pressure on Manchester United.

But simply applying pressure does not mean you deserve to score. The ball spent 41.9% of the second half in United’s third of the pitch, but Liverpool did not manage a shot on target after the 31st minute of the game.

In fact, United’s defensive solidity — outside of the farcical own goal — limited Liverpool to barely any meaningful shots at all.

They had nine in the second half, but six of those were blocked by United’s defensive shield and were never likely to trouble David de Gea.

The succession of corners in the final few minutes were torture for the home support, but Liverpool were largely kept at arm’s length.

Young shows why he is Mourinho’s man

There is a great deal of sympathy and goodwill for Luke Shaw among United’s support, understandably so.

The left-back suffered a career-threatening leg break, has confidence issues, and has been kept on a string by Jose Mourinho.

Yet against Liverpool, Mourinho needed a full-back who would defend for his life and dig in. Ashley Young was the game’s best player, shackling Mohamed Salah and still managing to venture forward into opposition territory when permitted.

It was the first time since December 13 that Salah has not had a shot on target in a Premier League game.

Young is the perfect Mourinho disciple, committed and professional and without any ego. You might expect a winger turned full-back to be keen to attack at will, but Young has learned a new trade and is one of the best in the Premier League at it.

A World Cup place is looking more likely.

West Ham descend into chaos

It has been coming. West Ham enjoyed a period of resurgence shortly after David Moyes was appointed, one which persuaded supporters to put their resentment to one side.

They have now taken five points from their last seven matches, and have conceded 11 times in 270 Premier League minutes. The resentment has rushed back to centrestage.

Saturday was a farce. On four different occasions West Ham fans entered the pitch, to the extent that it would have been no surprise had the game been abandoned.

Mark Noble and James Collins became embroiled in angry exchanges with two invaders, while hundreds of fans staged a protest in the stands towards the co-owners present.

There is no excuse for violence, and West Ham will be punished accordingly, but the club cannot pretend they have no role in this mess.

It is their incompetence and mismanagement that has turned a family club into a shell of its former self, an empty husk where a proud institution once stood. The London Stadium, sponsorless and sterile, is a monument to ineptitude.

It would be a brave optimist who predicted West Ham’s survival from relegation, and this club deserves nothing more.

When you make decisions against the best interests of supporters without consultation, don’t be surprised if you erode the supporter loyalty on which every club ultimately stands.

Palace need their injury crisis to end, quickly

The return of Wilfred Zaha will have been welcomed like a home win by Crystal Palace fans desperate for their team to move out of trouble, but even then it was only for a player in Christian Benteke who has been reduced to a shadow of his former self.

Having got themselves out of a deep hole once this season, Palace may well have to repeat the trick. They have lost each of their last three games by a single goal to a top-six team, but have ten first-team players injured.

Roy Hodgson is having to make changes in every fixture, and desperately hoping for better news. Lose at Huddersfield next weekend and Palace will go into the international break back in the bottom three.

Newcastle new boy helping them move clear of trouble

There were doubts raised when Newcastle pushed to sign the Brazilian Kenedy on loan from Chelsea in January. He had not played much football, had disciplinary issues at Chelsea, and there were relevant concerns about his appetite for a relegation battle.

Newcastle were left with little choice. Mike Ashley’s tightening of the purse strings and the potential sale of the club left Rafael Benitez scratching around for transfer targets, and the loan market was the only option.

With Islam Slimani signed with a muscle injury, Kenedy was the only first-team addition who could actually make an immediate difference.

He has been a revelation.

Playing in a wide midfield role, the Brazilian’s surging runs and close control have given Benitez an added dimension, but it is Kenedy’s finishing and chance creation that have left manager, teammates, and supporters most pleasantly surprised.

He scored his first Premier League goal for almost two years against Southampton and promptly followed it up with a second.

With Emerson Palmieri still to start a game for Chelsea, there are supporters in west London frustrated that they let Kenedy leave. That’s quite the turnaround in reputation.

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