Manchester United vs Liverpool: Five things we learned as Tyrell Malacia shines in shock win

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Manchester United shocked Liverpool with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford on Monday night thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. They rode out a late surge from Liverpool, who pulled one back via Mohamed Salah but couldn’t find an equaliser.

Here are five things we learned:

Malacia set to be a fans’ favourite

One of the biggest positives for United was the performance of Tyrell Malacia, the left-back signed from Feyenoord this summer by Erik ten Hag. It seemed an unnecessary transfer on the surface, given left-back was a position well stocked by Luke Shaw and Alex Telles, but on this evidence it was obvious to see the qualities Ten Hag liked in the young talent.

Malacia was a constant menace down the left-hand side, anticipating the supply line into Mohamed Salah to cut out throughballs, while surging forwards almost constantly, making clever overlapping and underlapping runs which weren’t always picked out but helped stretch the play and gave Marcus Rashford space. What’s more, he made those runs knowing full well Salah was left isolated on the counter-attack should things break down, a sign of his confidence in himself, his teammates and their gameplan.

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Some of the biggest roars of the night came when Malacia made strong challenges and the sense was that he could be a popular figure at Old Trafford in the months and years to come.

Tyrell Malacia goes in for a strong challenge on Andy Robertson

Slow starts continue to plague Klopp’s side

Whether Jurgen Klopp wants to hear it or not, it’s now seven Premier League games in a row where Liverpool have conceded first, including all three this season.

Great mentality or not, no team can continually come back to take three points every single week – the Reds have trailed at half-time in every fixture in 22/23 so far, which clearly isn’t sustainable if honours are the target.

It took around half an hour for the visitors to really get into gear and start producing some combination plays and aggressive presses, which immediately had them looking more dangerous and more capable of threatening the United defence.

A shot on target didn’t actually arrive until the 67th minute, by which time they were already two goals behind.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after full-time

De Gea takes no chances

David de Gea got himself in all sorts of bother last week at Brentford trying to work the ball out of the back intricately alongside his defenders and defensive midfielder that day, Christian Eriksen. Erik ten Hag since revealed the plan was not to play exclusively short but to go long when things got too risky – either De Gea ignored the message or the manager didn’t convey it properly.

Either way, this time there was no messing about by De Gea. Almost all of his first-half distribution went long, bypassing the Liverpool press and exposing the high line. The keeper was written off in some quarters last time out but if he can find the balance between risk and reward, as he did here, he will avoid many of the pitfalls that come with Ten Hag’s possession game.

David de Gea punches a cross clear

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Skipper’s form one concern of many

Liverpool have a whole batch of injuries, that much is true, but the players on the pitch are still largely senior internationals and too many are way off the pace, three games into the season.

The pick of the bunch – in a negative sense – was captain Jordan Henderson once again, with the midfielder having had a very poor start to the season.

Here he was moved to the base of the trio, Fabinho left out, but the No14 rarely got to grips with the speed of United’s play and pressing in the centre, not able to track Fernandes in the No10 role when he pushed on and failing to provide the platform in possession for those ahead of him, either.

The curtain call for his performance came as he was subbed off minutes after gifting United their second – his initial control was poor and he missed two attempted tackles within a couple of paces before Rashford strode through to score.

A week is a long time in football

A week ago Gary Neville warned United were going to finish in the bottom half of the Premier League this season, while Jamie Carragher effectively wrote off new signing Lisandro Martinez as too small to compete in the English top flight. Tonight they were leading the praise of Ten Hag’s side.

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The Sky Sports duo were not the only ones to write United’s season off both individually and as a team. Not that this performance should paper over the many cracks at the club surrounding recruitment, debt, facilities and many more factors; but it showed that cohesion and confidence are wonderful things – United played with both here and were transformed.

A similar reaction emerged around Arsenal last season when they lost their first three games; there was uproar and the calling for Mikel Arteta’s head but they went on to have a respectable season. Football discourse might never be reasoned and rational, or carry any sense of perspective or proportion, but these few days should serve as a reminder that the extreme reactions are almost always overblown.

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