Manchester United Learned From Gakpo's Goal Last Season
December 20, 2023
Manchester United learned from their mistake last season at Anfield and implemented this well-thought-out transition to counter Liverpool when Alisson stepped forward into the backline, forcing them to play short rather than direct long.
This is from last season. Cody Gakpo scored from this sequence. They, particularly Fred, were caught out too high, leaving too much space in the left half-space behind United’s first and second line.
This season, on the weekend, when Alisson came out of his goal to join the backline, Manchester United immediately moved back, switching from a flat 4-2-4 shape to a 4-3-3.
Hojlund and McTominay shadow cover Liverpool’s double-pivot, and Antony moves back to mark Tsimikas. They force Alisson to play short to Virgil Van Dijk. They weren’t going to allow Alisson to have an outlet long again to that left side.
Then when Van Dijk gets the ball, they immediately switch back to the 4-2-4, and this forces Van Dijk to pass short to Tsimikas.
This change made it difficult for Liverpool to progress forward quickly and blocked off the direct pass. It was very smart and well-executed. United were very organized out-of-possession and quick to switch between the two formations. As I discussed yesterday, the only way forward was progressive passes from Wataru Endo.
Match: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United, 17 December 2023