Updated: Oct 3
Manchester United’s new signings were on show against Liverpool as Ten Hag claimed his first points as United boss.
Man United earned a massive first win of the season against Liverpool, beating their north-west rivals in the league for the first time in four years. United secured its first victory over the old enemy since March 2018 and just a second win in the last 13 Premier League meetings between the two clubs. Prior to the match, United were winless in their last eight league encounters with Liverpool.
After becoming United's first manager since 1921 to lose his first two competitive matches, Ten Hag is now the first-ever United boss to claim his first competitive victory over Liverpool.
Ten Hag put his players to work last week and they reaped the rewards with a stunning performance against last season’s Premier League runners-up. The manager cancelled what was scheduled to be a day off after the debacle at Brentford, forcing his entire squad to run and make up the distance from a perfunctory display in the 0-4 drubbing. It emerged today, Tuesday, that Ten Hag himself joined his players for the full 13,8 kilometre run in an attempt to convey a mindset of ‘all for one, one for all’.
Ahead of the Liverpool game there wasn’t necessarily an abundance of confidence from a United perspective, but rather it was seen as one of those where any result could transpire. The manager had a handful of substantial calls to make in regards to team selection and his choices ultimately paid off.
Ten Hag made four changes from the starting XI at Brentford and the inclusion of all three summer signings confirmed what we already knew beforehand, in that the pre-existing squad is nowhere near good enough. Cristiano Ronaldo, Fred, Luke Shaw, and club captain Harry Maguire all dropped to the bench where they were joined by the returning Anthony Martial. Scott McTominay returned to the line-up while Anthony Elanga and Raphaël Varane each earned a first start of the season. Tyrell Malacia made his full United debut in the ultimate fixture within the club's calendar.
United's latest signing, Casemiro, was unveiled on the pitch prior to kick-off. He undoubtedly would have been impressed by what he saw as United started brightly and came within inches of opening the scoring in the 10th minute when Elanga struck the base of the post in a 1v1 with Alisson. Five minutes later United did go in front as Jadon Sancho remained cool and composed to finish off a well-worked move involving Lisandro Martínez, Christian Eriksen and Elanga.
Sancho left both James Milner and Alisson in the dust before he calmly buried the ball into the bottom corner in front of the East Stand. This was only Sancho's second league goal at Old Trafford since joining the club last summer and he became the first United player to score in the league this season.
Liverpool began to rediscover their groove and the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the first half in the 15 minutes leading up to the interval. United were left counting their lucky stars when a goal line-bound Martínez unknowingly prevented stand-in skipper Bruno Fernandes from blasting the ball into his own net.
Right-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Dalot both went into the book as the opposing wingers caused havoc for defenders. Varane was also cautioned by referee Michael Oliver.
The home side held onto the lead going into half-time and Ten Hag introduced Martial in place of Elanga for the second period, with Marcus Rashford shifting to his favoured left flank after starting the game down the middle.
Martial got straight into the thick of things and less than 10 minutes into the second half he played in Rashford who bolted past Joe Gomez and found the back of the net to give United a two-goal cushion over their classic rivals. The Stretford End erupted.
Fred replaced Sancho while Jürgen Klopp threw on midfielders Fabinho and Fabio Carvalho in an attempt to swing the game. The Merseysiders halved the deficit when David De Gea parried Carvalho's shot and Salah headed in from close range with 10 minutes to go.
Ten Hag made a triple change in the closing stages as Ronaldo, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek came on for Rashford, Dalot and Eriksen.
United secured the three points and became the 15th PL team to pick up a win this season. The Red Devils dealt Liverpool a first league defeat in 2022, ending their 21-game unbeaten run.
F/T Man United 2 - 1 Liverpool
Despite having under 30 per cent of possession, all of United's players put in a monumental shift and the defensive players especially put their bodies on the line when needed. Several statistics show just how much graft the home side put in against the club's arch rivals.
Ten Hag praised Fernandes and Varane for their leadership qualities on show and speaking on the arrival of Casemiro, the manager described the Brazilian midfielder as being the ‘cement between the stones’.
United are next in action on Saturday as they open the weekend’s action with a lunchtime visit to Southampton.
Ten Hag’s team selection might be fairly straightforward and he may want to see if his XI from Monday can replicate a top-drawer display, although he could also throw Casemiro straight into the mix.