Daniel Sturridge scored in the fourth minute and Liverpool hung on for their third successive 1-0 victory in the Premier League
And there you have it. Liverpool top the table, and only a Spurs victory in the 4pm kick-off will knock them off it this side of the international break. Liverpool's back four looked excellent, though once again one of their number limped off injured – they'll be needing Johnson to come back sharpish. United had 57% of the possession, perhaps unsurprising given that Liverpool had a lead to defend from the fourth minute, but they didn't have many ideas in attack, and created very little. Sakho and Ilori, about to sign for Liverpool as defensive reinforcements and watching from the stands, will have noted Skrtel and Agger's display and wondered why they're needed. It was a scrappy, disjointed display for the home side, but there was still lots of encouragement to be found.
Anyway, that's all for me. Thanks for your emails and your attention, and do join Rob Bagchi for the Arsenal v Spurs match.
Another good stat from Infostrada. You wouldn't have thought it would be quite that rare…
And here's Daniel Taylor's match report in brief.
90+6 min: The final whistle goes, and Liverpool have another 1-0 win!
90+5 min: Liverpool's finest five minutes are the last. Sterling cuts in from the left, ghosts past Ferdinand and boshes a shot that De Gea palms over the bar.
90+4 min: Less than a minute to go now, and Skrtel takes a free-kick from his own half and sends it flying out of play about a yard from the corner flag for a throw-in. Nicely judged.
90+3 min:Wisdom has the ball on the right, puts his foot on the ball, wastes about 30 seconds and wins a throw-in.
90+2 min: Liverpool break again, and Sterling decides against swinging in a cross, and in favour of hogging the ball on the left for a bit and then falling over. He wins a free kick. "I was optimistic that Moyes would do a good job, but their embarrassing forays into the transfer market, no Kagawa or Zaha, the Chelsea game and this match shows Moyes cannot hack it at this level!" screams John. "He cannot be positive enough tactics wise and he cannot do anything to change the game! I'm worried for United, they will finish third or fourth this season! Or worse! United are toothless under Moyes!" And so it begins.
90 min: Van Persie swings in the free-kick, and Enriqué's clearing header is celebrated by the home fans as if they'd scored a second. Then the fourth official raises his board … and the number five is on it.
89 min: Henderson leads a break for Liverpool, Sturridge continues it and a minute later Liverpool still have the ball. It's the kind of controlled possession there's been much too little of this half, and it doesn't last – it's eventually worked back to Mignolet, whose hoof finds a United head. Moments later, Lucas gives away a free-kick on the right touchline and gets a booking.
87 min: A chance! Hernández, on the right, perfectly times his pass to Van Persie, whose first-time, right-foot shot from an acute angle flies a couple of yards wide of the near post.
86 min: Good pressing from Liverpool's forwards ends with Ferdinand feeling forced to play the ball back to De Gea, and the goalkeeper skewing his clearance into touch.
85 min: Liverpool continue to cling on to their lead, with only their defenders really excelling. "One-Nil, to the Liverpool … actually, how did Arsenal fans ever stand this?" asks Marie Meyer. "I've been unable to eat my breakfast for over an hour now. Torture!"
83 min: Coutinho, who has been disappointing in this half and whose last touch was a puzzlingly-overhit lay-off that Sturridge didn't know what to do with, comes off and Luis Alberto comes on.
82 min: Another optimistic edge-of-area shot from United, this time Hernández hitting one from the right-hand corner straight at Mignolet.
78 min: If Roy Hodgson was livid before kick-off he'll be downright incandescent now. Rooney didn't make kick-off, Jones limped off in the first half and Johnson's just gone off, looking extremely uncomfortable. Andre Wisdom replaces him.
77 min: Nani slams the ball goalwards from 25 yards, and Mignolet dives to his left to push it away. Valencia picks it up on the right and crosses, but it's hacked clear.
76 min: Evra runs with the ball towards Liverpool's penalty area, until Johnson wins the ball in an all-or-nothing bone-cruncher. Johnson is now limping.
74 min: Liverrpool win a free-kick on the half-way line, and half-a-dozen one-touch passes later it's, um, well, it's back with their goalkeeper. Certainly their best move of the half, that.
73 min: Ryan Giggs comes off, and Javi Hernández comes on.
72 min: Liverpool successfully pass the ball three or four times without getting anywhere. Vidic helps them out, though, with an underhit backpass which very nearly lets in Sturridge, certainly the home side's best attacking moment of the half.
70 min: That's one in the eye for Valencia! A finger in the eye, specifically. Sterling's finger. There's no intent in it, but Valencia needs treatment.
69 min: Effort on target! United swing in a corner, and Giggs heads the ball from well short of the near post. Mignolet catches. Listen, it's the best I've got.
68 min: This is certainly the most entertaining Manchester United game of the week, but it's not actually very entertaining. Sterling runs down the left and then pulls the ball back – a long way back. Nani eventually collects it about 15 yards from the halfway line.
67 min: "Is Tom Cleverly the new Ray Wilkins? I don't think I've seen him make a single forward pass," asks Sean Boiling, as Cleverley's lovely forward pass plays Nani into space on the edge of Liverpool's penalty area. He swiftly loses the ball.
65 min: This is a good enough stat that it's worth putting it out there with 25 minutes to play, just in case there's no chance to use it at full time. Liverpool work the ball down the left, run out of space and hand United a goal kick.
62 min: Sturridge hares down the right wing, realises there's only a half-interested Coutinho and fairly distant Sterling to cross to, and checks back. United bring Nani on for Young.
60 min: Liverpool take action to stem the dark-blue-and-darker-blue-checked tide: Raheem Sterling replaces Iago Aspas.
59 min: Ashley Young vaguely tuggs Henderson's arm, and gets a booking for his troubles.
58 min: Liverpool give the ball away straight from the throw-in, and Danny Welbeck dances into the penalty area and then swan-dives to the turf. The referee gives a goal kick, but there's no booking for simulation.
57 min: Evra's attempted backheel flick down the line to Young rolls straight out of play in faintly comical fashion.
56 min: Lucas steals the ball from Carrick and the ball rolls to Sturridge, haring towards the penalty area. He doesn't spot Aspas or, um, someone else, both to his right. "Liverpool playing like a turbocharged championship team," moans Paul Ashton. "Not seen the ball in the air this much since the days of Toshack and Keegan. Not too much style, but whoof!"
54 min: Liverpool haven't strung two passes together this half. It's been an incoherent opening from them. Sky flash up a statistic which suggests that United have had 76% of the second-half possession thus far.
51 min: Young sends another corner over everyone's head, but somehow another corner is won over the other side. This is cleared by Agger to the edge of the area, where Young hammers a shot goalwards, and it hits Johnson's thigh and flies to safety.
49 min: Carrick, one of the United players treading an alread-yellow-carded tightrope, fouls Aspas and gets a talking-to. I wouldn't bet on this game finishing 11-11 (in players-on-field, obviously, not goals). From the free-kick Aspas misses his header entirely, and the ball bounces off a surprised Agger's shoulder and away for a goal-kick.
47 min: United start the brighter. Again, one of the sides has a corner after a couple of minutes of the half. This time Young's kick clears everybody and goes out again. "Today is my sisters wedding here in Vancouver," writes Joe Deasy. "I don't think it makes me a bad person getting up at 5am to watch this when I should be getting some much needed sleep … does it?" I daresay it depends who you ask.
46 min: Peeeeeeeep! We're off! Again! "Hodgson is livid?? Not as livid as the fans who had to pay to watch the turgid brand of football he served up during his mercifully short spell at Anfield," blasts Sally Officer. "In fact he should be grateful he's allowed inside the ground never mind where he sits!!" Take that, Roy.
The first half of the first half was excellent, but the second half of the first half was a bit scrappy. Liverpool started brilliantly, United came back strongly, and there then followed a scrappy final 25 minutes, with a few central midfielders – Cleverley, primarily, and also Giggs, and Lucas a bit – fairly unimpressive.
45+3 min: The referee keeps his cards in his pocket, but raises his whistle to his mouth. Peeeeeeeeeep! And then, unusually, he calls the captains over for a bit of a lecture. In the last 20 minutes Andre Marriner was probably the busiest man on the pitch, which is non-ideal.
45+2 min: Skrtel staggers backwards away from Van Persie, as if he's been headbutted or shoved or something. I didn't see any movement from Van Persie, but I haven't seen a replay.
45+1 min: We're into the first of two minutes of first-half additional bonus time.
45 min: Giggs hopelessly misjudges two key passes in as many minutes. "Commentator on NBC sports just told us there have been 14 red cards 'since the advent of this rivalry in 1992'," reports Richard Franks, for which he should be strung up by the gonads and subjected to an enforced voiceboxectomy.
43 min: Ashley Young performs a couple of stepovers and then runs off, leaving the ball behind. Apparently these kits are all sorts of confusing for colourblind footer fans, which seems a bit of an oversight.
41 min: Young's cross is just too high for Welbeck, and Agger heads clear. Aspas runs onto the ball, only for Carrick to grab him by the shoulder and pull him back. He, as well, is in the book.
39 min: Van Persie escapes down the right, cuts back onto his left foot, loses the ball to Lucas and then goes in late on Agger. He, too, is booked.
38 min: Johnson tries to force his way down the byline through sheer force of will, and momentum. He leaves both Carrick and Evra on their arses, but he fouled at least one of them, probably both.
38 min: Phil Jones' day is over. Valencia replaces him.
36 min: Coutinho's free kick is dreadful, and flies into the crowd. Jones returns from the sidelines.
34 min: Niggle! Coutinho backs into Phil Jones as the United man leaps for a header, and Jones goes down and stays there. Liverpool play on, and the ball ends with Coutinho at the edge of the area, and Cleverley taking his legs away. Cleverley is angry about the whole Jones business, but is booked. Aspas is angry about the whole Cleverley business, doesn't really have any business getting involved, and is also booked. Jones eventually limps off.
33 min: When Liverpool have a chance to play their way out of defence, they get over-intricate and Carrick steals the ball from Coutinho. Incidentally, though Hodgson has no place in Liverpool's directors' box, James Corden does.
30 min: United are enjoying a decent spell now, but are yet to turn their possession into chances.
27 min: Johnson is fouled, but Gerrard's resulting free-kick has impressive dip but lands too close to De Gea.
26 min: Sakho is indeed at Anfield, sitting next to Liverpool's other rumoured defensive target Tiago Ilori, with Victor Moses another seat down, and a crutch-clutching Aly Cissokho the other side.
24 min: Skrtel attempts a 40-yard pass to Henderson, but hits it 60 yards and United have themselves a goal kick. In other news, we're helpfully collating the best photos of this match and putting them all here.
23 min: More good covering from a Liverpool full-back, this time Enrique popping up to stop Welbeck's tasty backheeled through-ball reaching Cleverley.
20 min: Coutinho is the meat in a Giggs-Van Persie sandwich. The referee's cards remain in the referee's pockets.
19 min: Good entertainment here, of which Roy Hodgson reportedly has a not-entirely-impressive view. Here's the Telegraph's Henry Winter's pre-match tweetage on the subject.
15 min: A brilliant covering block from Johnson denies Welbeck when the forward appeared to have skipped into space in the penalty area. "There must be plenty of manager who've managed two double-winning teams - as a starter how about Ron Atkinson (Villa and MU), Dave Sexton and Glenn Hoddle (both Chelsea and Spurs)," writes David Hopkins. "However, I think I've got one who scores three – Tommy Docherty managed MU, Chelsea and Villa, in between bothering physios' wives and dismantling Derby's championship side." Any advances on three?
12 min: The free-kick is deflected wide for a corner, which Young curls into the penalty area. It bounces twice, reaches Van Persie on the far post, and he – clearly having expected someone else to have already bundled it home/thwacked it clear, lets the ball bounce off his shin and away to safety.
11 min: Lucas has given the ball away a couple of times as Liverpool have attempted to break. United are currently preparing for a free-kick, 25 yards out and wide on the left. "Shinji Kagawa needs to play games and can play on the left or in behind Van Persie if Rooney is injured like now," writes Fraser Duguid. "He got a wonderful hat trick against Norwich last season and he was in behind the front man. A lot of the time he was deployed on the lefty where he is much less successful. Give him games and he can and will perform."
9 min: Liverpool, goal apart, started at a lunatic pace and United weren't sure what to do about it. They've had some control of their own in the last couple of minutes, and Mignolet was just forced to gather Welbeck's low shot. Incidentally, it's Daniel Sturridge's 24th birthday.
7 min: Coutinho classily skips away from Cleverley, shifts the ball onto his right foot and rifles it low, hard and wide from 25 yards as Carrick closes him down.
6 min: Chance! Giggs swings over a free-kick from the right, Evra heads it into the mixer and Van Persie's overhead from seven yards out flies over the bar. Adam Simpson, meanwhile, suggests Graeme Souness as a manager of two double-winners. "Liverpool and Galatasaray … doesn't really count, though, does it? Still, it would be funny to have to include his name."
What a start! The corner's flung into the penalty area, Agger heads it goalwards and Sturridge, five yards out, flicks it into the net.
3 min: Ashley Young gets caught on the edge of the penalty area. Sturridge takes possession and cuts in from the right flank, and his shot is deflected wide (when Aspas was waiting for the pull-back).
2 min: News! The transfer window shuts for no man (yet)
1 min: Peeeeep! They've only gone and kicked off! And here's evidence of the interest in this game stateside:
"Is David Moyes the only manager to have managed two clubs which have done the double (Preston North End and Man Utd)?" asks Peter Morrow, as Anfield launches into a minute's applause in memory of Bill Shankly. Nope: George Graham springs immediately to mind. Others?
"Kagawa gets better with every game he doesn't play," writes Tom Taylor, as the players walk out and get ready for kick-off. "Must have just been me who thought he looked completely ineffective in 85% of the games he played for United last season. Oh, me and David Moyes."
"Before we all start comparing Moyes to Wilf McGuinness, it's probably fair to point out that Ferguson was hardly lovestruck by Kagawa, either," point-of-informations Chris Ross. "He started 17 league games last season. Not many of them were in his best role as a central attacking midfielder. He's the new Berbatov, clearly."
And congratulations to Simon Brereton and Suzy McAnanama, Steve McManaman's dyslexic cousin (not really) on their marriage today. "Despite my best efforts, which included picking a season we aren't in the Europa league, picking the weekend after the Ashes, picking a Sunday, picking an afternoon and a different time zone, the sporting fixtures gods have still managed to stick me with one on my wedding day," moans the former, who can look forward to a romantic catching-up-on-the-highlights fairytale wedding-night finale a few hours hence.
Firstly, on Rooney's absence: "It's certainly a boost. Someone of that quality not in their team can make a big difference."
Then, on the 100th anniversary of Bill Shankly's birth (tomorrow): "It's another chance for us to commemorate the man who really started off what is the Liverpool way. An incredible man who really picked the club up off its knees. But this is a game that already has a great intensity to it anyway."
And today: "I've been a part of this game, and the Everton derby game. There's just a different feel to this game. This is about two cities, about fighting for the people of your city. So that always adds a little bit more. But it's important to focus on the game."
Kagawa's absence does seem puzzling, with no whisper of injury. There are surely lesser footballers in that squad. A weird one (unless he's off tomorrow).
Wayne Rooney may have suffered a massive head-gash yesterday, but all the pre-match talk in my inbox is about Kagawa. Here's a selection:
"Could you get someone to ask Moyes what his problem is with Kagawa?" pleads Nick Thompson. No. I can't. "The attacking creative player people claim United need, but can't even make the bench ahead of the inconsistent Nani while 40 year old Giggs gets another runout."
"Curious to know exactly what David Moyes appears to have against Shinji Kagawa," writes kdelahuerta. "United are crying out for his creative talent. He doesn't even make the bench?"
"Can anyone explain the absence of Shinji Kagawa from the matchday squad? Man Utd's most creative and attack-minded midfielder has not featured in the PL this season, has been on the bench for the last two games and now left out entirely," shrieks Matt Coughlin. "Is he out of favour with Moyes or is he unfit/injured? Surely he deserves his chance after what promise was shown last season was disrupted by injury…"
Shinji Kagawa is not lost: he's here! "I'm so crestfallen that in the absence of Wayne Rooney and Kagawa that I can't even be bothered to watch now," sniffs Ben Mohammadi. "And not even that ad and the worlds most insignificant cameo is cheering me up."
About Rooney: "He got a cut down the middle of his forehead. Completely accidental, but it's quite a bad cut. It'll probably keep him out for a few weeks. I would think he's got no chance of playing for England. He would have started today if he'd been fit, so we've had to alter it a little bit but not too much. I'm confident with the team we've got.
"I'm really looking forward to it. Liverpool pass the ball well, keep the ball well. They have lots of possession. We have to make sure we use the ball when we get it."
No sign of Shinji Kagawa in United's squad today. The other day his agent insisted "Shinji will currently not be leaving Manchester United – he wants to fight for his place", but could there yet be a deadline-day move in the offing? Or when his Mr 10% said he wouldn't be leaving United, did he mean he'd refuse to travel to away games?
I do think that this bit of Paul Wilson's interview with Steven Gerrard is particularly enjoyable, knowing what's happened to Wayne Rooney's head since:
He laughs at the suggestion Rooney's summer of uncertainty might have affected his concentration. Other players' heads might not be right, to use the current vernacular, but not this one. "His head looked all right the other night to me," Gerrard says.
It might have looked all right back then, but it didn't when Phil Jones was finished with it.
"It's good to see that, following Rooney's injury, Phil Jones' Giant Head is finally getting the publicity it deserves," notes George Wright. "Everyone is aware that said head holds a face capable of unparalleled contortions, but not enough is made of its extraordinary dimensions. I imagine the Rooney/Jones collision to be the equivalent of an asteroid hitting Jupiter. No wonder he's out."
Are we sure that it was a head-to-head collision? Might there have been boots involved?
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enriqué, Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Aspas, Coutinho, Sturridge. Subs: Brad Jones, Alberto, Sterling, Ibe, Kelly, Flanagan, Wisdom.
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Giggs, Welbeck, van Persie. Subs: Anderson, Smalling, Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Valencia, Buttner.
So that's Skrtel replacing Kolo Touré for Liverpool, and Giggs and Young replacing Rooney and Valencia for United.
Obviously David Moyes has never won at Anfield, but here's his record against Liverpool in full:
P25 W4 D8 L13 F19 A34
It's not great. A 16% win ratio against your team's key rivals, that's got to smart. And the team with which he intends to improve matters today is in, and I'll let you know what it is momentarily.
This just in from the Press Association:
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was not on the team bus for his side's Barclays Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield today. Press Association Sport understands the player suffered a head injury in training yesterday.
However, Rooney's absence from the Red Devils party which arrived on Merseyside means the damage was extensive enough for him to be omitted. Manager David Moyes will be required to give a television interview ahead of the game, when he is almost certain to be asked about Rooney's fitness, which also has implications for England's forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine.
Although Rooney's absence is a blow, Moyes did have Jonny Evans, Javier Hernandez and Nani in his squad for the first time this season.
Wayne Rooney has been ruled out as a result of the head he gashed in training yesterday. It's the only one he's got, you see.
It's true, this tweet does leave open the possibility that he's just driving to Anfield himself, or going by bike. But having mulled over all possible options, I'm tempted to conclude that it's the injury wot's responsible.
Simon will be here shortly. In the meantime, here's an excerpt from Paul Wilson's interview with Steven Gerrard:
Steven Gerrard hears the question, gives a wry half-smile at the mention of his friend's name, and interrupts with a polite affirmative that cuts amusingly through the waffle that has surrounded the subject all summer.
"Yes," he says. "Wayne Rooneystaying at Manchester United is bad news for us. Simple as that. He is a top player. I know how good Wayne is, I've worked with him for a long time. I know him personally and I know how much he loves playing against Liverpool. Would United be weaker without him? Yes."
At 33 the Liverpool captain has lost much of his former diffidence and now speaks with a quiet, confident authority. Always an intelligent individual, the mature Gerrard gives every impression of wanting to savour his last few playing years at his only club, even to the extent of sharing his opinions openly and honestly when asked. No subject is off limits, no intervention is required from his LFC minder, Gerrard tackles what comes his way with something approaching the instinctive enthusiasm he shows on the pitch. If a player who seemed impossibly youthful for most of his career is now at the elder statesman stage, English football can congratulate itself on having such a forthright, articulate one.
He laughs at the suggestion Rooney's summer of uncertainty might have affected his concentration. Other players' heads might not be right, to use the current vernacular, but not this one. "His head looked all right the other night to me," Gerrard says. "He was the best player on the pitch against Chelsea.
"I've been in that situation myself when there's speculation about your future. It does affect you, it's in every paper, every TV channel you put on, but Wayne's experienced enough now to cope with the attention. He's had attention on him since he was 16 years of age. If he plays against us there's no doubt in my mind that he can play well. It will be a touch of luck for United if he stays because he'll be wanting to break records very soon. I think he'll have a fantastic season for them, which is not good news for everyone else in the Premier League."
And here's David Moyes, looking ahead to trying to end his Anfield hoodoo:
David Moyes has never won a game at Anfield but he has never turned up in charge of the champions of England either. He may be hoping for a change of fortune on Sunday afternoon, though he knows better than to hope that Manchester United's visit will be any less intense than all the Merseyside derbies he has witnessed.
"I understand the rivalry, and though I did once get a round of applause at Anfield, that was during a ceremony for Hillsborough," he says. "All the other times I've been I've had stick from the home fans, and it will be back to that when I go with United."
Moyes does not have an exceptional record against any of the leading clubs but does not mind his five draws and seven defeats at Liverpool being mentioned, as they certainly have been in the past few days, as long as people can put what was achieved at Everton into perspective. "I'd love to have a much better record at Anfield than I do, but I think most people appreciate I was up against some pretty good Liverpool sides over the years," he says. "There was a gulf in terms of budget and quality that we had to try our best to bridge. We did beat Liverpool at Goodison, there were some terrific draws at Anfield and we finished above them in the league on occasions, so I don't think the record is anything to be ashamed of, but you have to remember that Liverpool won the Champions League while I was at Everton, and they too are a proud club that doesn't like to lose at home. Especially not in a Merseyside derby. For Everton to beat Liverpool at all was a great thing, because it wasn't really a level playing field but we had to try and make it so. We were hanging on to their shirt tails a lot of the time, but though it was a long process we gradually got above them in the table."