Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Player Ratings for the Red Devils

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2013

Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Player Ratings for the Red Devils

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    Manchester United and Liverpool have enjoyed one of the fiercest rivalries in English football over the decades, and Sunday’s clash between the pair has shown that there’s no love lost between these Premier League giants.

    Continue clicking through these slides to see the grades for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in this epic matchup that never loses its lustre.


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    David de Gea: 8.0

    While largely due to the work of the United defence, De gea was massively quiet for the first half and had very little to do in terms of saving opportunities. That said, the Red Devils' No.1 proved to be a constant option for his defenders, making his presence felt where necessary to ensure ball retention.

    Daniel Sturridge's introduction made things a lot more difficult for the hosts, but there was little De Gea could do in stopping the Englishman's goal, doing well to even save the initial long-range effort before Sturridge struck home the rebound.

    De Gea was called upon fairly infrequently throughout, but the second-half challenges that did come his way were dealt with fairly confidently and in a strong manner. De Gea's communication with his defence was at a premium in the second half, giving the United defence a clear signal as to when they could utilise their stopper.


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    Rafael: 7.5

    Much like his opposite full-back, Rafael has given those ahead of him a wealth of help in attack and is making life significantly harder for the Liverpool defence as a result.

    However, the young Brazilian has shown his decision-making to not be amongst his best assets, taking more complex clearance routes when not necessary.

    He took down a lofted through ball just before halftime with expert grace, creating a clear-cut chance for Van Persie to score that was unfortunate not to find the back of the net.

    Rafael's poor clearance in the United box almost led to a Daniel Sturridge goal in the final few minutes, heaping unnecessary pressure on his side when it matters most. 


    Nemanja Vidic: 7.0

    Despite speculation that the pair might not be able to operate as fluently together in their later years, Vidic and Ferdinand have looked assured in the opening exchanges, with the Serbian posing a particularly astute presence in the air.

    The Serbian will ultimately go down as the scorer of the second goal, although it was Patrice Evra's well-directed header that made the opportunity.

    The introduction of Daniel Sturridge has made the United defence's job that much more difficult, and Vidic could do with closing his opponents down with a bit more fervour.

    He was replaced by Chris Smalling on 80 minutes.


    Rio Ferdinand: 8.0

    The more assured of United's centre-backs thus far, Ferdinand is showing that while his legs might age, the mind lingers on, and Luis Suarez has found it all too difficult to find his way around the wise veteran.

    Ferdinand has been a calm and cool asset at the back, taking the easy option with most clearances.


    Patrice Evra: 8.5

    In a very Evra-esque display, the Frenchman has provided Kagawa with a lot of ammunition and outlets down the left wing, but has also allowed Stewart Downing a decent amount of room as well.

    It was Evra that put in a cross for Robin van Persie to open the scoring, a clearly drilled effort meant for nobody other than United's top scorer.

    That said, the 31-year-old could still do with sewing things up at the back and was fortunate not to get caught in a very precarious position in the 25th minute, attempting to dribble out of his own area, only for Joe Allen to pounce.

    After creating the opener, it was Evra's turn to play the role of finisher in the 54th minute. Although Nemanja Vidic got a definitive touch, Evra did excellently to latch onto a Van Persie free-kick and double his side's lead.

    He picked up an undeserved free-kick on 74 minutes as a result of a Stewart Downing dive.


    Phil Jones (Substitute): 6.0

    In an effort to correct some defensive lapses, Phil Jones was put on in place of Shinji Kagawa 15 minutes from time, adding some security to the Red Devils' back line.


    Chrs Smalling (Substitute): 6.5

    With Daniel Sturridge causing all sorts of problems to the United back line, Smalling was introduced in order to shore up the Red Devils' back line with 10 minutes left.

    He was slightly hasty in his clearances, making snap decisions when there's more time on hand than perhaps believed.


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    Tom Cleverley: 8.0

    Pegged as the more offensive of the Red Devils' two central players once more, Cleverley has so far done an excellent job as puppeteer-in-chief.

    It was Cleverley who found Evra out wide before the left-back assisted Van Persie's goal. While he may not receive much of the credit, the United academy product was key in the goal's creation.

    Finding space on the edge of the Liverpool box, Cleverley was unfortunate not to add a volleyed "worldy" for the Red Devils on 40 minutes.

    As the games have progressed, Cleverley's responsibilities on defence have become all the more vital, and the 23-year-old needs to do more to fulfill the duties needed from him.


    Michael Carrick: 8.5

    With Cleverley racing further ahead, Michael Carrick has been left to play the role of anchorman in the home side and has done well in dictating the pace of play.

    The introduction of Daniel Sturridge through Liverpool's centre has made covering a slightly harder job for Carrick, with the defensive side of things becoming all the more vital.

    With Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen all struggling to get into the game, Carrick has effortlessly orchestrated the pace at which United attack, threading through an endless supply with the greatest of ease.


    Ashley Young: 5.5

    Lining up on the right-hand side of United's midfield four, Young has given Glen Johnson something to worry about while giving Rafael a significant helping hand in covering the defence.

    However, his decent positioning and eagerness to gain possession has been let down by a tendency to lose the ball in precarious places.

    He picked up a knock on the 30-minute mark but swiftly returned to the fray. Even if the injury isn't an issue, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Antonio Valencia introduced in the second period.

    He was taken off in place of Antonio Valencia at halftime.


    Shinji Kagawa: 7.5

    In the FA Cup game against West Ham last weekend, Kagawa was pretty much anonymous in his role as United's left midfielder and started in a similar fashion this weekend, but gradually settled into as the game went on.

    Shifting to a more central position in the second half, Kagawa lurked in his more accustomed positions in the second half and saw Reina deny him a goal in the 63rd minute, striking well from the edge of the area.

    He collided with Pepe Reina in the minutes leading up to halftime but came off by far the healthier of the two.


    Antonio Valencia (Substitute): 6.5

    Came on for Ashley Young at halftime but has struggled to have the desired impact on Manchester United's right wing as of yet.

    One flourish of ingenuity almost saw Van Persie finish off the game with a beautifully back-heeled finish,  but the heroics of Pepe Reina just about kept the visitors in the fixture.


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    Danny Welbeck: 8

    Functioning as part of a front two alongside Robin van Persie, it's Welbeck who's taken the role of primary target when moving forward, holding the ball up terrifically for his teammates to get forward.

    The young England international has proven himself to be a more assured creator of opportunities than finisher, and has spurned several chances, leaving it simply too late before being tackled by the likes of Agger and Skrtel.

    Welbeck's second-half performance was an encouraging improvement from the first period, making much more of any forward runs and providing ample assistance to those around him.


    Robin van Persie: 9.0

    The scorer of the opening goal, it was always going to be the Dutchman to score first, posing the most frequent threat on Liverpool's goal.

    Van Persie's goal came from an Evra cross and wasn't from the easiest angle. But an assured left foot and even more acute mind to get in the right position is all the talisman needs to put his side ahead.

    RVP linked up with Evra once more in the 54th minute, delivering a sumptuous free-kick for the left-back to head home and put the Red Devils that much further out of Liverpool's sight.

    With the visiting Reds bearing down on the United goal, Van Persie did well to maintain his threat upon the Liverpool goal and Pepe Reina did fantastically to save a supremely struck back-heel effort on 86 minutes.


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    Sir Alex Ferguson: 8.0

    Sir Alex Ferguson's choice of formation would appear to be working wonders so far, as the Liverpool attack have found it nigh impossible to breach the Red Devils' defence, combining the experience of their veterans expertly with a youth influx.

    There are some who doubt the longevity in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic's aging legs. But the faith placed in the pair by their manager has seemed an inspired decision thus far. Luis Suarez has found it difficult to find an inch of space between the two as he holds the attacking line almost single-handedly.

    With Liverpool posing much more of a threat in the second half, choice of substitution became a pivotal aspect of Manchester United's chances of victory on Sunday; an aspect Ferguson didn't fail to live up to.

    The introductions of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones both seemed to be well-timed, adding security to a Red Devils' defence that was crying out for it.