Liverpool left Old Trafford on Sunday having conceded three goals, but arguably outperforming the Red Devils.
Brendan Rodgers dropped Simon Mignolet to the bench in the place of Brad Jones - who has been confirmed as a starting the League Cup tie with Bournemouth this week - and he set his team up to start the game without a recognised striker, with Raheem Sterling leading the line.
Sterling had three good chances to find the back of the net, whilst Mario Balotelli - who came on as a half-time substitute upon his return from injury - also had a number of opportunities, and it was only the imperious form of David De Gea in the United goal which prevented Liverpool from getting back into the game.
De Gea made eight saves from nine shots on target, whilst United scored three of their six shots on target to clinch a sixth straight victory despite less than convincing performances. Regardless of performance levels, results are still coming, and van Gaal appears to have brought a return of the winning mentality associated with Alex Ferguson back to Old Trafford.
For claiming these results, the United faithful have a lot of thanks to give to De Gea and Robin van Persie, who have put in a number of game winning performances to make up for their teammates. Van Persie has overcome form issues of his own to net seven goals in 15 games this term, and De Gea has single-handedly kept his poor defence in the game by pulling off some incredible saves - none more noticeable than those performed against the Reds.
It is this ability at either end of the pitch that gave United the victory on Sunday, and Liverpool legend John Aldridge feels as if it was only these two key areas that separated the two sides at Old Trafford - with Liverpool actually performing better than their Manchester rivals.
“It was one of the maddest Premier League games I’ve seen for a while,” the former striker told the Liverpool Echo. “I simply can’t understand how Manchester United have won six matches in a row because in all honesty they aren’t that good.
“The difference on Sunday was their goalkeeper and the firepower they boasted in the final third.
“Their ruthlesslness in front of goal made all the difference – and of course we made mistakes in defensive positions once again at crucial moments.”
Liverpool’s misfiring in front of goal has been a characteristic of their entire season, something many did not suspect following their goalscoring feats last term. However, the poor form of Rickie Lambert and Balotelli has failed to replace the injured Daniel Sturridge, and Fabio Borini looks complete cast out by Rodgers. It was suspected that Luis Suarez’s loss over the summer would be heavily felt on Merseyside, but it was hard to imagine just how much his absence would cost the Reds as they struggle in mid-table this season.