Jose Mourinho suffered just his third loss against Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's side secured an impressive 3-1 victory over Manchester United to return to the top of the Premier League.
United almost got off to the perfect start when they had a goal ruled out for offside just four minutes after kick-off. But Liverpool quickly took control and opened the scoring after 24 minutes as Sadio Mane escaped attention in the box to net the opening goal. However, it was United who went into half-time with the momentum after an unexpected mistake from Alisson gifted an equaliser to Jesse Lingard.
Liverpool attempted to regain control of the tie after the break and forced David De Gea to make several impressive saves. However, the Spaniard was powerless to prevent substitute Xherdan Shaqiri from giving Liverpool the lead once again after some scrappy play in the penalty area.
With ten minutes remaining, Shaqiri ensured Liverpool took all three points after his deflected effort from distance left De Gea helpless, sending the Reds back to the top of the table.
Key Talking Point
Jurgen Klopp spent a lot of money during the summer with expensive midfield recruits Naby Keita and Fabinho joining the club. However, they had struggled to make a significant impact on the first team as the likes of Jordan Henderson and James Milner retained their spots in the side. Fortunately for Klopp, the two new signings were in inspired form against United.
Milner was not part of the matchday squad, whilst Henderson was given a place on the bench, giving Fabinho and Keita the chance to impress on such an important occasion, and they did not disappoint. Liverpool looked to be at their electric best as the duo, alongside Georginio Wijnaldum, asserted their dominance all over the field.
Their influence faded as the match progressed, but Fabinho and Keita certainly proved that they are dependable options for Klopp.
Starting XI: Alisson (5); Clyne (6), Lovren (7), van Dijk (7), Robertson (7); Wijnaldum (7), Fabinho (9), Keita (8); Salah (6), Mane (7), Firmino (7).
Substitutes: Shaqiri (8), Henderson (6).
STAR MAN - Fabinho
Any of Liverpool's three central midfielders would be a deserving winner of this award. However, Fabinho just edges out his teammates.
At times, it seemed as though there were three or four of the Brazilian on the field, as Fabinho exerted his influence all over the field. He continuously pressed United's back line and forced mistake after mistake from the likes of Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof, allowing Liverpool to break forward with breathtaking speed.
His passing was exquisite and he even tested De Gea with several long shots. It was a superb performance from Fabinho, and fans jumped on Twitter to praise the new arrival.
Fabinho is immense!— Wakabi (@srWaky) December 16, 2018
Fabinho is playing as a 6, 8, and 10 all at once. Mystifying to watch.— Luis Paez-Pumar (@lppny) December 16, 2018
Fabinho has been balling his heart out. He deserves MOTM if we win this— Bearded Gambino (@HovaXXI) December 16, 2018
WORST PLAYER - Alisson
Labelling Alisson as Liverpool's worst player may be slightly harsh, but the Brazilian will be incredibly frustrated with his performance. He was not required to make many saves, but gifted an equaliser to Lingard after he failed to deal with a routine cross. Fortunately for Alisson, it was not decisive.
Mohamed Salah came close to earning this unwanted title, as this certainly was not one of the Egyptian's finest performances. He has now failed to score in his last eight matches against sides in the top six, and certainly needs to improve his record in big matches.
Key Talking Point
Throughout his career, Jose Mourinho has built a reputation as a tactical genius. He has always known how to set up his team to secure at least a point when facing a title rival, but Mourinho got it all wrong on at Anfield.
He set his side up in a 3-4-3 formation, but Liverpool's physically imposing midfield quickly asserted their dominance in the heart of the field. Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Keita were all sublime in the first half, as they created chance after chance against United's seemingly helpless defence.
He returned to a back-four formation in the second half which certainly helped counter Liverpool's threat, but they were still second best all over the pitch. Paul Pogba will be left wondering what he could have done to impact the match, as he remained on the substitute's bench throughout.
Starting XI: De Gea (6); Darmian (5), Bailly (5), Lindelof (4); Young (6), Herrera (5), Matic (4), Dalot (6); Lingard (6), Rashford (5), Lukaku (5).
Substitutes: Fellaini (6), Martial (6), Mata (N/A).
STAR MAN - Ashley Young
United needed somebody to step up and help them withstand Liverpool's immense pressure, and Ashley Young did just that. All across the back line, Young could be seen throwing himself at the ball and even cleared the ball off the line to save his side.
His stamina was superb, making an impact in both defence and attack. He produced several dangerous crosses and often looked to be his team's primary source of creativity. He did all he could to try earn a positive result for his side, and fans on Twitter recognised Young's performance.
Ashley Young may not be the best FPL option but his work rate is top notch every single week. For sure the best player for United today— TheDeihler (@TheDeihler) December 16, 2018
WORST PLAYER - Nemanja Matic
United's midfield seemed powerless to prevent Liverpool from exerting their influence on the match. Matic was guilty of losing possession on several occasions, and needed the introduction of Marouane Fellaini to help restore some defensive stability to the team.
Liverpool will hope to keep their unbeaten run alive as they face a potentially tricky away trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday
United will be keen to move on from this frustrating performance, and Mourinho will certainly demand a reaction when his side travel to Cardiff City on Saturday