This season’s Champions League got underway earlier this week, with Liverpool having to observe from the sidelines after the Reds could only manage to finish fifth in the Premier League last term. As a result, Jürgen Klopp’s men will compete in the Europa League for the next year, with that competition launching on Thursday night.
Nevertheless, Liverpool will surely be scouting the prestigious tournament from afar, with the heavyweight clash from the first round of fixtures being Bayern Munich against Manchester United. After 90 minutes of action, the Red Devils had conceded a total of four goals, while also allowing their German opponents to generate 19 shots.
Manchester United has now lost four matches in a row in all competitions, conceding a total of 14 goals, which is more than any other Premier League outfit. Liverpool’s arch-rival seems to be struggling just weeks into the new campaign, with two players in particular experiencing an apparent decline.
Last season, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen proved to be integral at Old Trafford. The pair were signed by the Manchester club just 12 months ago, and they had an immediate impact on Erik ten Hag’s midfield department by installing a degree of experience, culture, quality and composure in the center.
Casemiro joined as a 30-year-old player who had seen it all, as did Eriksen, with the former costing $86m (£70m/€80m) to acquire. By the time he arrived on English shores, he had already played over 550 professional games — including 63 for his country — winning 22 major honors as a pillar of strength for Real Madrid.
It was obvious why Manchester United wanted to sign him, as he was regarded as a proven winner who would make a real difference for Ten Hag. Casemiro did exactly that in his debut season by ensuring that his club returned to the Champions League by qualifying ahead of Liverpool, but so far this term, he has appeared tired and somewhat jaded.
The South American could be approaching over-the-hill status, and the same applies to Eriksen, who struggled to compete against the Bundesliga champion on Wednesday night and ended up being substituted after 70 minutes.
As Manchester United’s holding midfielder, Casemiro has already been dribbled past 13 times in the Premier League this season, placing him at the top of the division in that department. For context, he is tackling just 35 per cent of the players who are attempting to dribble past him this season, compared to 52.2 per cent last term.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher moved early on Casemiro’s decline after just two Premier League matches. Speaking on Monday Night Football last month, he said: “This man is being left on his own, and he can’t cope. Casemiro is bypassed so easily by [James] Maddison, who is not quick. He’s made a really poor start and I would really worry.”
Only four sides in the division have faced more shots than Manchester United so far this season, with those being Sheffield United, West Ham United, Wolves and Bournemouth. Many of Ten Hag’s concerns stem from his midfield department. The Dutchman fixed his engine room last summer but as a consequence of him buying two 30-year-old solutions, he is already having to consider a rebuild.
It bodes well for the Reds, who have started the new season in good spirits, accumulating 13 points from a possible 15. Klopp regenerated his own aging midfield department this summer by investing in youth, acquiring the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch — who are aged 24, 22 and 21 — while allowing James Milner, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta to leave the club.
With 22-year-old Curtis Jones and 20-year-old Harvey Elliott also more involved of late, Liverpool suddenly seems revitalized on Merseyside. Klopp is benefiting from fresh legs and real energy in the center of the field, with the Reds appearing back to their usual selves. Crucially, unlike Manchester United last year, the Anfield club has moved past its midfield issues without having to rely on experienced performers to fix the problems.
Casemiro and Eriksen did a job for Manchester United last season, but they already seem ready for a spot on the bench. Liverpool, by contrast, will surely profit from Mac Allister, Szoboszlai and Gravenberch for years to come.
The Post Manchester United makes major transfer oversight as Jürgen Klopp nurtures ‘Liverpool 2.0’ Originally Posted on www.liverpool.com