Liverpool waste solid performances from Emre Can, Lucas Leiva
All season, Liverpool have had trouble finding the net and even more trouble defending corners, so a 1-0 loss at home to Manchester United after conceding a late goal from a corner kick will have surprised nobody. Despite playing well and bossing the game for long spells, Liverpool couldn't take advantage of their superiority, and when United won a corner on 75 minutes, the sense of dread around the stadium was palpable.
Marouane Fellaini rose highest, and his header struck the bar before a gleeful Wayne Rooney smashed home the rebound for his first Anfield goal since 2005. Defeat was somewhat cruel on Liverpool, but manager Jurgen Klopp will have learned nothing new from this, as these problems have been there ever since he walked through the door and will not be solved without an injection of new players.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Simon Mignolet, 6 -- A game in which he had virtually nothing to do, yet once again, the only shot on target he faced resulted in a goal. United have had four shots on target against Liverpool this season and scored from every one. While blame for Rooney's goal can't be directly attributed to the Belgian, it's not unfair to wonder why he was already on the seat of his pants as the ball fell to the United striker.
DF Nathaniel Clyne, 7 -- An accomplished display from the England man who defended well against the dangerous Anthony Martial and linked up well in attack, where he made a succession of overlapping runs. Liverpool have a number of areas that need strengthening, but at least both full-back positions look to be in safe hands with Clyne and Alberto Moreno.
DF Kolo Toure, 8 -- Another excellent showing from the veteran Ivorian, who is filling in admirably in the absence of Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren. Dealt with the threat of Rooney well and made several key interceptions. Played on the front foot throughout and even made a surging run to the edge of the United penalty area that resulted in a Liverpool corner kick. Sacrificed for Christian Benteke late on as Liverpool chased an equalizer, but can once again be satisfied with his contribution.
DF Mamadou Sakho, 7 -- Erratic with his passing in the first half but defended strongly and was particularly dominant in the air. Made a terrific block from Martial and had a chance to score at the Kop end but just couldn't climb high enough to convert James Milner's cross.
DF Alberto Moreno, 7 -- Steady, tenacious performance from the Spaniard, who defended well, especially when using his pace to snuff out United counterattacks.
MF Emre Can, 8 -- Provided Liverpool's biggest attacking threat and was twice denied by United goalkeeper David De Gea in the second half. The young German can infuriate on occasion with his tendency to get caught in possession or to inexplicably pass the ball directly to the opposition, but he has huge potential and has performed well in both big games this week.
MF Lucas Leiva, 8 -- Went toe-to-toe with Fellaini and competed doggedly despite a huge height and weight disadvantage. Won numerous headers, tackled tigerishly and used the ball efficiently. Dropped into the back four in the closing stages and defended well in one-on-one situations against Martial and Memphis Depay.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 -- A good performance from the skipper, but he was let down by his finishing, missing the target with three first-half attempts and then disappointingly putting one straight at De Gea after the break. Lots of good passing and strong running, but in a team that struggles for goals, he has to step up and contribute more, because unlike most of his teammates, he actually has it in him to hit double figures.
MF James Milner, 6 -- Steady display from the vice-captain. Delivered some good crosses and brings a lot to the side in terms of experience and decision-making. Frustratingly, his legs aren't always capable of getting him where his brain tells him he needs to be, and he often seems to be just a fraction away from getting on the end of things.
MF Adam Lallana, 5 -- Ran around a lot, linked up well with teammates but once again produced nothing of note in terms of goals or creativity. The story of his season, really.
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FW Roberto Firmino, 7 -- Lots of things to admire from the Brazilian, who is definitely beginning to settle now. Produced some lovely touches and quality passes, especially in the first half, but Liverpool need a goal scorer to complement his talents, as he's never going to be a 20-goal-a-season man. Failed to convert a great chance late on when he tried to control the ball rather than shoot first-time.
MF Jordon Ibe, NR -- Sent on late to replace Lallana but made little impact and needs to get his crosses in much quicker. Fell asleep on the short corner from which United scored.
FW Christian Benteke, NR -- Thrown on late to try to salvage something, but unlike in midweek against Arsenal, this time he was unable to deliver anything. Needlessly caught offside to end Liverpool's last attack of the game. That happens far too often.
FW Steven Caulker, NR -- The on-loan centre-back was once again introduced as an extra forward in the final minute but was unable to make any impact.
Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.