The spoils were shared at Old Trafford in Sunday’s headline clash between Manchester United and Liverpool.
In truth, despite a crackling atmosphere inside the stadium and plenty of hustle and bustle, the game proved more than a little shy in terms of goalmouth action.
With Nemanja Matic pulling up in training the day before the game, United’s injury hex turned into a full-blown pandemic in the first half as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was forced to make all three of his substitutions before half-time.
There's never been a 0-0 draw between these two at Old Trafford in the Premier League. The last was in October 1991… #munliv
— Jonny Blain (@jonoblain) 24 February 2019
With Marcus Rashford already limping, Ander Herrera was the first to succumb in the 21st minute, with Andreas Pereira replacing the Spanish midfielder.
Juan Mata then left the pitch four minutes later with what looked like a groin issue, with Solskjaer overlooking Alexis Sanchez to bring on Jesse Lingard instead.
Lingard hadn’t played since pranging a hamstring against PSG nearly two weeks ago and the decision to risk him almost immediately backfired as the forward lasted less than 20 minutes before having to be subbed off again – thus allowing Sanchez to finally enter the fray as Solskjaer engineered a mass re-jig of personnel.
Lingard was actually injured in the process of attempting to nip a Romelu Lukaku through-ball past Alisson, who did well to thwart one of the few decent openings United created in the opening spell.
Liverpool also lost Roberto Firmino before the break, and having only managed a single shot on target beforehand, the Reds subsequently failed to muster another attempt on goal after the Brazilian talisman disappeared down the tunnel.
3 – Manchester United are the first team to make three substitutions in the first half of a Premier League game since Burnley in January 2015 vs Newcastle United. Ailing. #MUNLIV pic.twitter.com/tjWhNuxLMy
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 24 February 2019
United carved out the better opportunities in the second half, mostly from set-pieces, and thought they’d made the breakthrough in the 74th minute when Joel Matip steered the ball into his own net.
However, the Reds defender was saved by the linesman’s flag after Chris Smalling burst into action just a fraction too early in the build-up.
Smalling spurning the best of them by failing to get on the end of a Lukaku cross in the final minute of normal time.
So, at the close of play, the point garnered sees Liverpool return to the top of the Premier League while Man City spend their weekend contesting the League Cup final.
There was also a notable milestone passed by David De Gea, who kept his 100th Premier League clean sheet.
All in all, quite entertaining. Solid 7/10.