For all of the praise Liverpool have received for their 3-0 win against Manchester United, their midfield has been given plenty of credit – and rightly so.
Playing in the middle of the park can be one of the less glamorous jobs for a footballer. Sometimes their work can go unrecognised, but there was some terrific performances from Liverpool’s men in the middle yesterday.
Joe Allen won the most tackles as he and Jon Flanagan relished the challenge up against Rafael on the left side of the park for most of the game. Allen actually won as many tackles as the whole of the Manchester United midfield, and the Welshman showed at Old Trafford that there is more to his game than just passing it five yards to the nearest available Liverpool shirt – which was emphasised by his intelligent run which led to the visitors being awarded a second penalty of the afternoon.
He along with Jordan Henderson winning challenges high up the field adequately protected Steven Gerrard who was sat in front of the back four.
Allen's work rate and effort is also demonstrated in the amount of duels he won at Old Trafford. Whilst Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling won their fair share of five each, and Steven Gerrard coming with seven, Allen managed to win 11. A total of 28 duels between the four midfielders who started the game is a terrific effort. Manchester United's starting four in the middle won a total of 25 duels.
That showcased how well Liverpool protected their back line and managed not to give Manchester United much of an opportunity going forward. But Liverpool looked after the ball pretty well, and the statistics show that Jordan Henderson shouldered a lot of the responsibility in possession out of the quartet, making a total of 66 passes throughout the game [53 of them accurate]. His most crucial one was to Allen to win Liverpool's second penalty of the game.
There is also the fact that the players weren't dispossessed on many occasions in the middle of the park. A combined total of seven occasions, highlighting Liverpool's dominance - but at the same time it could possibly highlight Manchester United's deficiencies in midfield. United's midfielders, on the other hand, were dispossessed 15 times.
It is no surprise that Raheem Sterling is at the top of the list given he was playing further up the field, but Liverpool not getting caught in possession so much will have undoubtedly pleased Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool certainly - in the words of their captain - bossed the middle of the park.