For the second season in a row, Harvey Elliott celebrated a team-high nine goals in a record win.
But the situation the Liverpool midfielder finds himself in at present is significantly different to that of 14 months ago.
Last August, Elliott scored his first Premier League goal for United in a 9-0 win over Bournemouth at Anfield. The 20-year-old was in outstanding form for England Under-21s on Thursday, scoring late in the first half and also providing an assist in the 9-1 Euro 2025 qualifier win over Serbia.
Elliott, meanwhile, had found a place in Liverpool’s midfield for the first time but was strongly reminded of the need to compete for a place at such an elite club.
On a personal level, his outstanding performance for Lee Carsley’s England U21s – having in the summer helped them win the European Championship in for the first time in 39 years – was a timely confidence boost after a difficult showing four days earlier for Liverpool at Brighton.
Elliott was handed his first Premier League start of the season after an impressive cameo from the bench but was stopped at half-time with Ryan Gravenbirch brought on to the left of midfield for Dominik Szoboszlaì to convert at the other end. Move to the right and help the Reds advance during the 2-2 draw.
This scenario was not ideal for the youngster as Liverpool were not working with a permanent defensive midfielder and Alexis McAllister acted as an emergency number six. Elliot suffered as a result.
But he had to learn most of his lessons from the bench over the last six months, in the Premier League. In fact, Elliott, who played in every league game before taking a break for the trip to Chelsea last April, has started just two of the 18 games since then.
Liverpool’s only defeat in that time went unnoticed and they pulled off a come-from-behind win at Tottenham last month. But it would be unfair to blame Elliott’s absence on Liverpool’s progress.
He spent most of last season struggling in a relatively new position, the right flank of a midfield trio in a disappointing team with a very weak engine room. It was the weekend but he came on as a half-time substitute in the defeats to Brentford and Bournemouth. But that was to be expected from this young player.
Overall, he didn’t let the Reds down. Elliott’s overall performance this season certainly deserves further action and it should be noted that he has played every minute of the Europa League and League Cup so far.
This will be an important match to continue his immediate development. But it’s important to remember how much experience Elliott has at Liverpool despite being just 20 years old. He signed in the summer of 2019 and made his United debut a few months later. He then spent a season on loan at Blackburn Rovers, making 75 appearances despite missing most of the 2021/22 season through injury.
Although 42 of those appearances were starts, Elliott completed the full 90 minutes 14 times and just six times in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp and the Reds coaching staff have been careful not to overtax the teenager, both physically and in terms of responsibility. Elliott looks at the career trajectory of Curtis Jones, who played alongside him in his debut season in the Liverpool U21s and UEFA Youth League. Still only 22, Jones has had some major setbacks but is now considered one of the contenders for a starting role on the left flank of the new-look midfield.
Elliott’s versatility – he can play as a full-back or as a number 10 – means he has his opportunities, but strengthening his preferred role will now be a priority. He went through a phase where he was happy to be on the field. Of course, time is on his side. If Elliott’s reaction to his poor performance at Brighton is any indication, he is ready to quit his job at Liverpool.