Manchester United's hard-fought win at Anfield, as seen through the eyes of Stats Zone...
Manchester United battled to a potentially crucial victory at Anfield - with Spanish midfielder Juan Mata doing the damage.
The two North West powerhouses are locked in a battle for a Champions League berth, giving this always heated fixture extra significance.
Louis van Gaal's side started with real intent, picking up where the left off in last week's superb 3-0 victory over Tottenham. They completed 90 passes in the first 14 minutes, the last of which being a superb through-ball from Ander Herrera which gave Mata the chance to slot United 1-0 up. In the same period, Liverpool completed just 39 passes, and only 1 into the opposition penalty area.
Mata's goal was a thing of real beauty, and was just reward for the Red Devils' dominant start.
United stayed on top for another 15 minutes, at which point momentum suddenly swung in Liverpool's favour. A brilliant cross-field ball from Jordan Henderson was expertly controlled by Daniel Sturridge. The striker teed-up Adam Lallana, but the former Southampton man screwed his shot just wide of David de Gea's goal. That appeared to gee-up the hosts, who completed 16 passes in the attacking third from 30-45 minutes, 3 more than in the first half hour.
Brendan Rodgers looked to pep things up at the interval by throwing the experienced Steven Gerrard into the fray. Just 38 seconds later, he was on his way back off again, having been red carded for a vicious stamp on Herrera. He somehow managed to squeeze 4 completed passes and a successful take-on in during that time.
Liverpool initially reacted well to going down to ten men, but the visitors were soon back on top, and doubled their lead just before the hour mark. Juan Mata collected Daley Blind's blocked shot, exchanged passes with substitute Angel di Maria, before acrobatically volleying past Simon Mignolet to rub salt into Liverpool wounds.
Rodgers then had another stab at a game-changing substitution, but although Mario Balotelli avoided a red card (although at one stage it looked a little iffy), the Italian once again failed to make adequate impact in a Red shirt.
The Anfield side did pull one back when Daniel Sturridge blasted Coutinho's through-pass beyond De Gea at his near post, but they failed to make their pressure count in the latter stages.
There was still time for Wayne Rooney to have a late penalty saved by Simon Mignolet, but for United, that was only a minor blemish on what was a very impressive performance.
- Liverpool's last two Premier League defeats have come against Manchester United.
- Man Utd have completed a league double against Liverpool for only the second time in the last seven seasons.
- Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge both scored with their team’s first shot on target.
- Both of the two substitutes to be sent off in the Premier League this season have been Liverpool players (Borini vs Arsenal, Gerrard vs Man Utd).
- Gerrard was shown Liverpool’s 50th Premier League red card.
- Gerrard’s dismissal was the fastest red card in the Premier League from 2006/07 onwards – he was sent off after 38 seconds, passing the mark set in this period by Dave Kitson (47 seconds in August 2007).
- Wayne Rooney has only scored 18 of his 26 Premier League penalties – this conversion rate of 69.2% is the third lowest of the 18 players to take at least 20 penalties.
- Gerrard received his sixth Premier League red card for Liverpool; twice as many as any other player for the club (3, Mascherano).
- Four of these six red cards have come against rivals Man Utd, Chelsea and Everton (2).
- The last 10 Premier League goals that Liverpool have conceded have come at Anfield.
- Liverpool are the final English league team to lose a league match in 2015.
- Manchester United have won away at Anfield more times than any other team in Premier League history (11).