Harry Maguire’s importance for Manchester United was underlined in their 4-2 defeat to Liverpool on Thursday night at Old Trafford.
Two goals from Roberto Firmino and one each from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah saw Jurgen Klopp’s side come back from 1-0 down to beat the Red Devils.
It was United’s defending that certainly raised some eyebrows with a tweet by Gary Lineker describing it as ‘shambolic’ both with and without the ball.
Maguire limped out of their win against Aston Villa at the weekend, with the two games he’s missed ending in defeats.
Some may point to the fact that United had to play three games in the space of five days with this game against Liverpool supposed to be played on May 2.
It was protests by the Red Devils fans that got that game called off and they attempted to do the same on Thursday night, but there was a greater police presence at Old Trafford.
On the pitch, it was Liverpool who would fall behind in the 10th minute.
Paul Pogba swept a ball out to the right and Marcus Rashford played onto overlapping Aaron Wan-Bissaka. His cutback found Fernandes to get away a shot turned into his own net by defender Phillips.
Klopp’s men looked to have a chance to level midway through the first half as referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot following Eric Bailly’s strong challenge on Phillips in the box.
But the video assistant referee recommended a pitchside review, leading to the initial decision being overturned.
Liverpool would draw level in the 34th minute. Henderson did well to tip over a Jota drive but United failed to clear their lines from the resulting corner. Phillips kept his cool after Mohamed Salah’s initial strike was blocked, sending a low ball towards goal that Jota smartly flicked home.
Klopp’s side went into the break ahead after United’s weakness from set pieces was once again exposed.
Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up to a free-kick in the third minute of stoppage time and sent a pinpoint cross to the far post, where Firmino got behind Pogba to power home a header.
Liverpool went 3-1 up 72 seconds into the second half at Old Trafford.
Having appeared to get away with Fred’s loose pass at the back, Luke Shaw saw his drive out of defence halted. Liverpool took that second chance as Firmino tucked home after Henderson spilled Alexander-Arnold’s stinging strike.
After a period of shakiness at the back. United clicked into gear moving forwards and reduced the deficit in the 68th minute.
Cavani collected a pass from Rashford and continued to put the England forward through to send a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
United somehow failed to make it 3-3 in the 70th minute. Fernandes was blocked out and the ball looped up for substitute Mason Greenwood to get away a volley that was cleared off the line by Phillips.
A quick counter-attack in the final minute of the game saw Liverpool put the result beyond doubt as Salah beat Henderson in a one-on-one.
Liverpool claimed an important three points to put them well and truly in the race for the top four.
Klopp’s side are four points behind fourth place Chelsea, but have a game in hand.