Pitchside

Four players Liverpool can thank for their Old Trafford triumph

Pitchside

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Liverpool were on top form to secure a league double over Manchester United in Sunday's lunchtime kick-off - but who were the key players for the title pretenders? Squawka delve into the stats to find out...

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The Merseyside club have now given themselves a fantastic chance of winning the title for the first time in 24 years. Thanks to the result against United, they move to within four points of Chelsea and have a game in hand over the London outfit.

This ruthless dismantling of the Red Devils - reigning Premier League champions and Liverpool’s fiercest rivals - proved Brendan Rodgers and his side have the credentials to be crowned champions this season.

Based on the Squawka Performance Score, the following were Liverpool's four most impressive performers in their signature victory.

4. Jon Flanagan (30 points)

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Jon Flanagan will have been relishing his chance to star in such a high profile derby and Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford saw him do just that.

The 21-year-old gave a hugely impressive performance at left-back, subduing the attacking threat posed by United’s Rafael and Adnan Januzaj.

He completed seven tackles as he dispossessed the opposition’s wide men on numerous occasions, whilst also weighing in with seven clearances and three interceptions.

Throughout a heated occasion, though, the passionate Scouser conceded four fouls, forcing referee Mark Clattenburg to produce a yellow card.

3. Joe Allen (35 points)

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Joe Allen’s inclusion in the starting line-up attracted heavy scrutiny prior to kick-off, but his performance justified his manager’s faith.

Allen has struggled with a string of injuries this season but Brendan Rodgers opted to start the 23-year-old alongside Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard.

The Welshman is a grafter, and showed this in his midfield performance at Old Trafford. He misplaced just four passes in total (91% accuracy) whilst having completed six of 10 attempted tackles.

His ability to maintain possession caused considerable problems for the United defence and he was able to fashion one key pass in total. He also drew three fouls - one of which resulted in Liverpool’s second penalty.

Just after half-time, as he brought down the ball with his chest in the opposition 18-yard box and a clumsy challenge from England’s Phil Jones saw him bundled to the ground. Gerrard dispatched the resulting spot-kick with relative ease.

2. Glen Johnson (55 points)

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Glen Johnson put in a confident shift for Liverpool, which helped ensure the the back four earned a deserved clean sheet.

Defensively speaking, he won all five of his attempted challenges, whilst having completed four clearances and one interception. The England international played an important role in quelling a number of the Red Devils' attacking moves and, ultimately, they were unable to threaten Simon Mignolet’s goal.

Johnson produced a dominant display down the right flank and gave the club’s attackers valuable support in the final third. His heat map shows him up and down the flank throughout, as he continued to pile the pressure on veteran Frenchman Patrice Evra. In total, he managed only one attempt on goal, but this was saved by David De Gea.

His passing was also tremendous. He found a teammate 38 times to register an impressive accuracy of 90%, which underlines the efficiency with which he kept the ball moving for Liverpool as they hit United on the counter.

1. Steven Gerrard (79 points)

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Gerrard scored two penalties and though he missed a third, he still scooped the man-of-the-match award against arch rivals Manchester United.

The 33-year-old dispatched penalties either side of half-time to give the visitors a comfortable lead but clipped the post with a third after Nemanja Vidic was dismissed following a contentious foul on Daniel Sturridge.

It was a game made for the Reds captain, who controlled the play from his deep-lying midfield role. He touched the ball in almost every area of the pitch as his leadership and passion helped drive Liverpool to a well-deserved win.

Gerrard completed 89% of his 44 attempted passes and fired four dangerous crosses into the opposition penalty area. Despite having failed to play a single key pass, his midfield role cannot be underestimated. He pulled the strings from deep whilst maintaining possession to the highest of standards.

He also put in a notable defensive performance, supporting the back four with two clearances and three interceptions. He spent considerable periods of the match sat just in front of the Liverpool penalty area and his presence proved a real asset for the Reds.

Ultimately, Gerrard’s two goals established the impetus for a tremendous victory. He probably should have netted a hat-trick to cap an excellent performance, but the Anfield faithful are unlikely to care.

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