Manchester United vs Liverpool
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Michael Oliver
TV: Sky Sports
TV reminders, phone alarms and timers are set, across the globe, for the five past two showing on Sunday afternoon.
It is one of the oldest and fiercest rivals in English top-flight football, as Liverpool take on Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The home side are in a dog fight for fourth spot whilst the away side are in a dog fight for the title. This promises to be an amazing spectacle as these two teams go head to head in what appears to be a match that could make or break either sides’ league campaign.
It seems a long time ago, but back in December Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 victory with their Swiss super-sub, Shaqiri, ending Man Utd’s chances; entering the field on the 70th minute and ten minutes later he had two goals to his name and Liverpool were out of sight.
Unfortunately for Liverpool and in a round about way, this result could come back to haunt them. It was this result which meant, shortly after, Jose Mourinho would part ways with the Manchester club and be replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and since this time, the Red Devils have been on an incredible run.
They’ve managed to win eight matches and draw one of their last nine league games and along the way have managed to beat Reading, Arsenal and Chelsea in cup FA Cup performances. Their only loss since mid-December was their home leg against PSG in the Champions League. That is some run since Mourinho’s departure.
Back to this monumental fixture then. Manchester United have revenge on their side, they have form, they are at home, they are revitalised and they have that added satisfaction and power to try to mould their rival’s season into a crumbling mess. Liverpool, on the other hand, have managed to work their way out of a tricky period which involved a couple of draws and are entering Sunday off the back of a goalless home draw with Bayern Munich in a tough encounter.
It goes without saying, this result could go either way and it will boil down to some simple factors. Who takes their chances? Who deals with the pressure better? This fixture comes with huge pressure and demand and that’s the minimum expectation. Add in a race for fourth spot and a title race and this becomes season-changer.
A Liverpool win here would quash any lingering doubts about whether the Reds can go the distance with Man City and a win for the Red Devils would all but secure top four, in my opinion, and Solskjaer should be handed the Manchester job on a silver platter.
My feeling is this. A draw would be enough for Liverpool here but they will no doubt want that win. There is a fierce brick wall in front of them and they will need to find a way to smash through it but also stop it from falling on top of the them.
It’s grim reading for Liverpool fans but they have lost 16 of their last 26 trips to Old Trafford; however, four of Liverpool’s five wins at Old Trafford have come where Liverpool won at home, which they’ve already managed to achieve.
Mo Salah is one goal away from reaching 50 Premier League goals and, if he can do that on Sunday, he will have reached that in 63 games. Nine quicker than Torres who managed it in 72. He will also beat Shearer’s record of reaching 50 for a single club, 66 games for Blackburn.
If Salah scores against Manchester Utd, he’ll have goals against every current top flight team.
De Gea has kept 99 Premier League clean sheets. If he can do that on Sunday, he will become the 15th player to achieve this status.
A goal for Pogba against Liverpool would mean he’s scored in five consecutive games. Likewise, a goal for Mane would achieve the same for Liverpool.
Liverpool have scored in 18 consecutive games (1st) whilst Man Utd have scored in 13 (2nd).
Man Utd are on a ten match unbeaten run in the league, scoring two or more in their last six.
Liverpool’s most recent win at Old Trafford stems back to March 2014 (0-3).
Man Utd have kept one clean sheet in their 12 Premier League fixtures this season.
Solskjaer has 25 points from his opening nine league games which equals the most by any manager in their opening ten league games, set by Hiddink and Chelsea. A point against Liverpool would secure a record for Solskjaer and Man Utd.
Klopp has failed to win at Old Trafford in his last three visits.
Solskjaer is hopeful he can call upon Martial and Lingard this weekend with both heading towards late fitness tests. The former seems the more likely to make it which is good news for Man Utd. Darmian, Rojo and Valencia are all still sidelined at this stage.
De Gea should return in goal after sitting out the FA Cup clash with Chelsea.
Shaqiri was not risked against Bayern Munich but should now be fully fit after another six days of training. Lovren, Gomez and Oxlade-Chamberlain all remain out of the starting XI with their injuries.
Van Dijk will no doubt return to the side after missing the Champions League home leg through suspension.
Predicted Starting XIs
Man Utd (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw; Matic, Pogba, Herrera; Mata, Rashford, Lukaku
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Score Prediction: Man Utd 2 Liverpool 2
Honours even here for me. Both sides are far too good to lose this one in my opinion and providing the occasion doesn’t get the better of anyone, I think we are heading for goals but ultimately a 2-2 draw which wouldn’t be the end of the world for either side at this stage of the season. Based on the Opta Stats, headlines would be hit if Mane, Pogba and Salah all scored and Solskjaer also got his point.