Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Players Who Impressed in Capital One Cup Clash
The Capital One Cup is often dismissed as meaningless to England’s elite clubs, but come the final whistle after Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Liverpool, Old Trafford went into frenzy.
With the humiliating 4-1 defeat to neighbours Manchester City still fresh in the memory, the Red Devils needed a win against their oldest rivals to kick-start an extremely difficult campaign for David Moyes.
The Scottish manager punched the air in delight when Javier Hernandez brilliantly steered United ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ men, but who else made a significant impression in the encounter that remained finely balanced throughout?
Let’s take a look at those who impressed most, starting with everyone’s favourite bad boy. All statistics are courtesy of Whoscored.
Fresh from his 10-match ban for munching on Branislav Ivanovic at the end of last season, Luis Suarez looked hungry during his first competitive outing of the campaign. Although clearly not at his fittest or sharpest, the Uruguayan remained a thorn in United’s side for the entire match and was Liverpool’s most likely route to goal.
His link-up play with Daniel Sturridge will become a huge feature of Rodgers’ side this year. While the ban shortened the pair’s playing time together, it didn’t take long for short passes and clever runs to start pulling the United defence all over the place.
Suarez completed four successful dribbles and four key passes, highlighting his ability to wriggle out of difficult situations. He trundled into offside positions three times, suggesting a little rustiness as he gets back into the groove of first-team football.
Despite his build-up play looking impressive—especially for a player whose last competitive fixture came in Uruguay’s Confederations Cup loss to Italy on June 30—Suarez hit the target with only one of his eight shots.
Although an impressively confident return, there’s major room for the former Ajax striker to hit his famous stride.
Another player who has suffered from a lack of football this season, Jonny Evans was as close as United got to having a defensive stalwart against Liverpool.
This was a match in which his defence struggled to keep up with the pace and inventiveness of the visitors’ attack, but even so, the Northern Irishman reminded everyone why Sir Alex Ferguson put so much faith in him during the last few years of his reign.
As opponents continue to capitalise on the creaking legs of Rio Ferdinand, Evans’ return couldn’t be better timed. Overlooking one mistimed jump that saw Suarez bearing down on goal, the 25-year-old turned in an assured performance that gives everyone at Old Trafford something to think about.
Evans made two tackles and won two headers throughout the match. Remarkably, he successfully cleared the ball 13 times and blocked three shots at David De Gea’s goal. Although Chris Smalling and Phil Jones also played effectively around him, Evans deserves plaudits for leading an inexperienced back four in difficult circumstances.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that Manchester United were right to keep Wayne Rooney this summer.
Despite the constant unrest and links to Chelsea, the burly Englishman continues to grab his team by the scruff of the neck. He was the only United player to escape the Etihad with his reputation intact and once again looked wholly committed to the team’s cause against Liverpool.
Which player impressed most during Manchester United's 1-0 win over Liverpool?
Often forced to drop deep in order to receive the ball, Rooney has had significantly improved energy levels since last season. He actively seeks possession, looks to distribute and moves toward goal with the intention of causing major trouble.
A dinked free-kick and stinging shot from outside Simon Mignolet’s area forced the Belgian into a duo of decent saves during the second-half. Rooney also provided the cross for Hernandez’s winner, adding to the theme that he is United’s sole creative force when Robin van Persie isn’t on the pitch.
Moyes will be extremely happy with his former Everton colleague. Granted the captain’s armband on a pitch that included Ryan Giggs, the 27-year-old is playing like a United leader once again.
Which players were you impressed with during Manchester United’s win over Liverpool? Let us know in the comments section below.
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