Red Monday proved to be something of a false dawn, with Liverpool and Manchester United playing out a tedious 0-0 draw at Anfield that failed to live up to the pre-match hype.
Despite the lack of goalmouth action, the game told us a lot about both sides; here are three things we learned:
Mourinho establishes his philosophy
Monday evening saw United abandon most of their attacking intent in favour of a conservative, pragmatic approach designed to stop their opponents playing.
It worked almost to perfection and was only marred by the fact that they didn’t manage to steal a 1-0 win when Zlatan Ibrahimovic miscued a simple header wide.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 17, 2016
The game drew memories of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side going to Anfield and ‘parking the bus’ in 2014, when the Blues grabbed a 2-0 win that effectively cost the home side the title.
The Portuguese coach clearly has his players onside, as they carried out his instructions with unerring discipline over the 90 minutes.
Previous bosses David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were vilified for not playing ‘the United way’ but maybe now is the time to move on from this idea; Mourinho’s teams will not always play the best football but he is a master at grinding out results.
Reds spirited but need plan B
Liverpool were frustratingly one dimensional as they toiled away trying to break down United’s backline.
Even the likes of Barcelona would have struggled to pass their way through the wall of players guarding David de Gea’s goal, let alone a Reds side that are talented but not yet the finished article.
Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy is admirable and largely effective but against United his team were countered superbly.
The German will be cursing his luck that influential midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was unavailable through injury, whilst Adam Lallana was fit only for a place on the bench.
Mourinho’s happy, Klopp’s not…
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 18, 2016
If there is solace to be taken, then it is in Liverpool’s first clean sheet of the season; if you can’t win a game, then make sure you don’t lose it.
De Gea proves his credentials
Despite a lack of chances at both ends of the pitch, it took two world-class saves from United stopper De Gea to preserve a point for the Red Devils.
The Spaniard first denied Emre Can just before the hour, diving down low to his right after the midfielder had squeezed a shot through a crowd of bodies.
His second save if anything was even better, as Philippe Coutinho let fly from 30 yards, only to see De Gea spring across and tip the ball wide of the left-hand upright.
— FOX SPORTS Football (@FOXFOOTBALL) October 17, 2016
Even a monumental team effort like this from United relies on individual brilliance from time to time and the 25-year-old was on hand when his team needed him most.
After this performance, there can be little doubt that De Gea is up there with the likes of Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Buffon in terms of the best keepers on the planet.