Quite a game, no? Nick Miller watched Arsenal's thrilling 1-1 draw with Everton and saw two teams who have improved, leaving certain others trailing...
Another rotten day for David Moyes, whose desperation for a win was epitomised by the selection of an unfit Robin van Persie in attack. It's looking pretty worrying indeed...
There was a moment with about five minutes left that summed up Manchester United's 1-0 defeat to Liverpool. United had the ball in their defensive third, and were playing it around to try and engineer an 'out' ball, and get it up field. However, thanks to some diligent pressing by a couple of Liverpool players, David De Gea was forced into a rushed and errant pass, and the ball drifted out of play for a throw.
This was not a game of any significant quality, but Liverpool were still comfortably the better side. This was largely because United's passing was so poor, with United's starting XI creating just five chances between them - and two of those were by Patrice Evra - and central midfielders Michael Carrick (his first half pass completion rate was a woeful 69%, although this improved) and Tom Cleverley anonymous.
This anonymity was partly their own fault, but it was also because Liverpool were so dogged and aggressive. Matthew Stanger wrote last week that Brendan Rodgers got his tactics spot-on for the trip to Aston Villa, and so it proved again at Anfield, sending his men out to press United from the very first and not allow them the time their midfielders like on the ball - Jordan Henderson was particularly impressive in performing this task.
One of the features of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure at Manchester United was their ability to play badly but still win, something they couldn't manage this time. Of course, it's massively too early to write David Moyes' United off as not possessing this quality, and Ferguson's United did lose every now and then, but this game could still be worrying for United.
On another day, Robin van Persie might have bailed them out with some of that brilliance of his, but the Dutchman was quiet, having only three efforts, none of them on target.
This game, as did last week's draw with Chelsea, was an indicator of the problems in their squad. You don't need telling that United need at least one central midfielder, and it's hard to think that they will let deadline day pass by without adding at least one - indeed, one particularly optimistic Sunday paper linked them with five.
Having said that, Moyes commented after the game: "From what I saw today, I'm more than happy with what I've got...I wouldn't be worried if I didn't add to the squad." This might be a spot of understandable expectation-dampening, but if Moyes means what he said, it's troubling.
While you could point the finger for failing to rectify the personnel issues earlier in the summer, it's tricky to blame Moyes for this specific performance. United were perhaps taken unawares by the ferocity of Liverpool's initial play, but Moyes at least seemed to instruct his side to be positive in return. The conservatism that one assumed Moyes would adopt - a 'must not lose' rather than 'must win' approach - wasn't evident, with attacking intent throughout the first half. Unfortunately for him, his players didn't effectively do his bidding.
There was one potential area of concern in Moyes's approach. The omission of Shinji Kagawa attracted a lot of attention, but the Japanese playmaker is barely fit, and there was even some suggestion that he aggravated an injury in the warm-up. Perhaps more worrying for United fans was the omission of Wilfried Zaha, about whom there has been no such injury explanation.
"Wilf is still getting to know this level so we're happy with what we've got," Moyes said before the game.
So does Moyes not trust/fancy Zaha, or is this an instinctive caution from a desire to protect and young and raw player? Nani was on the bench and indeed came on at Anfield, himself hardly fit after missing much of pre-season with an injury. The Portuguese is perhaps unfairly maligned by some given the number of chances he creates, but surely Zaha would be a better option to have in reserve at least - if a game-changer is required, United have nobody else with his combination of directness and invention.
United were poor at Anfield, but not all of it was their own doing. Liverpool should be given credit for not allowing the champions to play.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter
@bish...missed me? Been on holiday chap, its what people with jobs can do. We cant all spend our every waking hour obsessing over United can we? Still relying on hyperbole I see, it wasnt Cardiff though was it? At least with the appointment of Moyes we've got at least one club in Manchester with some tradition. Only stopped laughing at your 'plan b' comment, shows your plastic ignorance, as thats exactly what Mancini used to do with Yaya!....and you thought he was amazing! And a little tip, dont watch United if you find it sooo boring, hasnt Citys biggest 'fan' got better things to do? As for the game, well done Liverpool. Thought they sat back and defended very well, and nice to see Sturridge performing well after a proper club gave him a chance.- dangerous trev