Flanagan v Rafael: How the Liverpool and Manchester United full-backs compared

Jon Flanagan (low quality)

Full-backs in the thick of the action as Manchester United and Liverpool clashed.

Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan and Rafael were among the key protagonists at Old Trafford during the away sides' 3-0 win, both picking up bookings.

Rafael gave away the first penalty with a handball, escaping a second booking, and was fortunate to escape further punishment for fouls in the second half.

The Brazilian clearly gave it his all until the end, and did not let his head drop, making a couple of late saving tackles on Luis Suarez.

His committed display was echoed by Jon Flanagan at the other end of the pitch, with the two coming into conflict during the second half, many home fans feeling the Liverpool full-back was himself fortunate not to be sent off.

Here is a look first of all at how many times each got into trouble with referee Mark Clattenburg.

PlayerTeamFoulsYellow CardPenalty Conceded
Jon Flanagan Liverpool 4 1 0
Rafael Man Utd 3 1 1

Rafael's error was clearly a crucial one, a game-changer, but did it deserve to define his performance? Here is a look at the positive attributes the two players delivered to their teams?

NameTeamPosInterception WonWon TackleEffective ClearanceBall RecoveryAppsMins
Jon Flanagan Liverpool DF 3 7 7 5 1 90
Rafael Man Utd DF 3 5 1 10 1 90

Flanagan was absolutely key in Liverpool keeping a clean sheet, making seven clearances and winning seven tackles to compensate for the four fouls he committed.

Rafael too won more tackles than fouls, each making three important interceptions. He recovered possession for his side an impressive 10 times, twice as many as Flanagan.

What fans of both teams can take from the above, is that both players contribute valuably for their sides. Flanagan's emergence has been superb, a fully committed defender capable on both flanks who is likely to save the club cash in the transfer market this summer.

As for Rafael, his contribution is more difficult to analyse. His superb contribution from a tackling and ball recovery perspective has to be weighted by the penalty he gave away, far from the first act of naivety he has committed in his United career.

The yellow card he picked up was also foolish, for a sliding tackle in the attacking corner of the ground, where he really did not need to go to ground, leaving himself under pressure for the rest of the game.

United fans have come to learn to expect the rough with the smooth with Rafael, and no performance exemplified it more than yesterday. His goal at Anfield last season should also be brought up in defence of him when assessing his future prospects.

David Moyes must consider though, whether the negatives outweigh the positives - because tackles don't win games, but penalties conceded sure lose them.

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