Xherdan Shaqiri Brace Leads Liverpool Past Manchester United in Premier League

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2018

Liverpool's Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 16, 2018. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Liverpool moved back into the Premier League lead on Sunday with a 3-1 win over fierce rivals Manchester United. Xherdan Shaqiri was the big hero for the hosts, scoring twice as a substitute.  

The Reds dominated the bulk of the contest and took the lead through Sadio Mane, but United hit back after an Alisson blunder gifted Jesse Lingard the equaliser.

Shaqiri restored the lead just minutes after coming on, and a second deflected effort gave his side a decisive two-goal advantage.

The Reds have a one-point lead over defending champions Manchester City, who beat Everton on Saturday.


One-Trick Pony Mourinho Is Finished

United manager Jose Mourinho has been known as a defence-first coach for a few years now, opting for solidity at the back over entertaining football. It's a somewhat controversial tactic that doesn't always sit well with the fans, but the Special One has often used it to grab excellent results and plenty of silverware.

The 2018-19 campaign has been different, however:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Manchester United league goals conceded in 2017/18 -- 2⃣8⃣ Manchester United league goals conceded in 2018/19 -- 2⃣8⃣ https://t.co/o93swL2RxA

Mourinho will go down as one of the greatest managers of all time, but the game appears to have passed him by. Even the one skill he was still known for, his defensive mind, is gone.

He opted to start Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata on the bench on Sunday and played Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic in midfield, and the result was predictable. Liverpool completely overran the Red Devils, who were bereft of ideas from the opening whistle.

United sit eight points behind Arsenal already, languishing in sixth place while the rest of England's elite clubs battle it out for the European tickets. There was no Plan B on Sunday, just as in midweek when the club lost to a struggling Valencia side.

There's no point delaying the inevitable. This club is going nowhere under Mourinho, and United's leaders have to recognise this and let him go. The Special One is finished.


Fabinho's Showing Vindicates Klopp's Patience

Fabinho's slow start to his Premier League career dominated the headlines during the early part of the season, but after Sunday's superb showing, it's safe to say those worries are a thing of the past.

As reported by Rory O'Callaghan of Sky Sports, the player himself admitted he struggled to fit in, and the Daily Record'Duncan Castles (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) reported on transfer rumours regarding Paris Saint-Germain as recently as this month.

Yet here we are, with Fabinho dominating a flawed but talented United midfield and providing a stunning assist for Mane's opener:

Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland

That pass from Fabinho, though. #lfc #mufc

Manager Jurgen Klopp was very patient with the former AS Monaco man, and the lack of early minutes was likely a major contributing factor in the persistent exit rumours. His patience has been vindicated with strong performances against rivals Everton and United, however, and Fabinho now looks like he might be the team's best midfielder moving forward.

Adapting to a new culture, language and style of football is never easy, and some players take a little longer than others. Credit the Reds for keeping their calm and taking their time―the Brazilian may just be the missing piece that yields them the title.


What's Next?

Liverpool visit Wolverhampton on Friday, while United travel to Cardiff on Saturday.