If you were hoping for an epic opening chapter in the rivalry between Jürgen Klopp and José Mourinho, Monday was a bit of a letdown. Manchester United and Liverpool did a whole lot of nothing in their first meeting of the Premier League season, with both defenses playing well and both midfields struggling to string passes together in a 0-0 draw.
The first half featured essentially no chances of consequence, with Roberto Firmino and Paul Pogba putting the only efforts of the period on target. Both were easily saved, though Pogba's was a powerful long-range shot that was at least mildly exciting.
Each team threatened to spark the game to life in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Pogba found Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a cross in the 55th minute, but the United striker badly mishit his header. Emre Can had Liverpool's best chance of the game four minutes later when Joël Matip found him with a through ball, but he was denied by David De Gea from 12 yards out.
De Gea had the best play of the match for either team in the 71st minute, when he made a spectacular diving stop on a 30-yard strike by Philippe Coutinho. But sadly, that was the bit of real excitement that the game had. It was, admittedly, a waste of everyone's time.
Liverpool: Karius, Milner (Moreno 86'), Lovren, Matip, Clyne, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Firmino (Origi 85'), Sturridge (Lallana 60'), Mané
Manchester United: De Gea, Blind, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Young (Shaw 90'), Ibrahimovic, Rashford (Rooney 77')
International soccer ruins everything -- OK, so we can't be certain that this game would have been good if it was played last weekend, but it's fair to guess that it would have been a bit crisper. These looked like two teams that were in preseason, and just needed a few more games together to be able to execute fluid attacking moves.
Moving Pogba into his preferred position didn't help -- Paul Pogba wants to play closer to goal. Fans who are concerned about transfer fees and Adidas want to see him play closer to goal. People who like getting lost in YouTube wormholes want to see Pogba play closer to goal. And yet, moving him closer to goal did nothing to make him more effective or entertaining. He just ... existed in this game, and his ineffectiveness can't be blamed on his position.
Don't be too cynical, things should get fun next week -- The timing of this match stunk. There wasn't anything either team could do about it. But they've probably shaken off the cobwebs and will start playing high-level soccer again very soon.