Match Preview: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Liverpool take on arch-rivals Manchester United at Anfield in a game that should on paper show the gulf in quality between the teams at the moment.
It will be anything but. The arch-rivals will go toe to toe in a hard-fought contest with bragging rights up for grabs.
United remain the only side so far this season who have managed to take points off Liverpool in the English Premier League. They could very well have taken all 3 had it not been for a late equalizer by substitute Adam Lallana in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford.
Anfield, however, represents a daunting setting with Liverpool not having lost at home since 2017. Liverpool start as strong favorites, but Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has shown twice now that he is capable of negating Klopp’s system.
A victory will give Liverpool a 17 point lead over Manchester City with the Reds needing just 35 points from the last 17 games to guarantee the title.
Liverpool will welcome Joel Matip and Fabinho back into the first-team fold for the first time since November. Neither of them are expected to start the game while Fabinho looks the more likely to come off the bench.
Solksjaer, on the other hand, has had to add Rashford to his ever-growing injury list. The striker was forced to come off with a back injury against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay.
United have been inconsistent this season but have done well to win against Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea. Liverpool are not likely to go into the game overconfident, but should not show United too much respect as they had done in the last two matches against them.
The matchup may not have the same gravitas of old and is a testament of how far apart both the clubs are. There will be no short of competitiveness on the pitch though,with both sides eager to get one over the other.
Liverpool and Manchester United are separated by an incredible 27 points with Liverpool having played a game less. None of that should matter this Sunday if history is anything to go by.
Jurgen Klopp’s injury worries will be eased with Joel Matip, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri back in training. Dejan Lovren, Naby Keita and James Milner remain unavailable for selection with Klopp having an otherwise full squad to select from.
powerhouse midfielder Fabinho looks likely on the bench as he attempts to regain match fitness. Liverpool are likely to start Lallana in midfield given the midfielder’s impressive run of performances.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will sorely miss Paul Pogba’s quality and Scott Mctominay’s energy in midfield with both midfielders out injured. Marcos Rojo, Axel Tuanzebe and Luke Shaw are also set to miss out on the Trip to Liverpool whereas Eric Bailey has an outside chance of making it. It is unlikely that the defender will feature even if fit, owing to his lack of match fitness.
Star striker Marcus Rashford limped off against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday but could feature against the Reds. Harry Maguire could be set to take the armband with Ashley Young moving to Inter Milan.
Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane
Manchester United XI
David De Gea, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Andrea Pereira, Juan Mata, David James, Anthony Martial
Jordan Henderson vs Nemanja Matic
Recently voted England Men’s player of the year, Jordan Henderson has been in the form of his life. His ability to win the midfield has powered Liverpool through tricky fixtures such as Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Liverpool captain’s ability to recycle possession and connect the defense to the attack frees up Liverpool’s fullbacks and attackers to push the opposition back. The lack of Scott McTominay’s energy in midfield should be to Liverpool’s advantage. In the absence of the Scot, United lack a player who can keep up with Liverpool’s mobile midfield three.
Matic is a seasoned veteran who will bring years of experience to the fore. If Henderson gains control of the midfield early on, he will not relinquish it and United could be in for a long night.
Mohamed Salah vs Brandon Williams
With Ashley Young on his way to Inter Milan, youngster Brandon Williams is expected to start at left-back. A promising player who did well against Wolves, he will find his hands full against Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool should look to target the 19-year-old’s lack of experience and Salah’s intelligence and pace should give him ample opportunities to do. With Trent Alexander-Arnold also likely to push forward it could be a long day for the youngster.
Putting pressure on the United left flank can help draw players from midfield to support Williams. This should help Liverpool outnumber their opponents in midfield and seize control of the game.
The duel on the left flank could might as well be the defining match-up of the game.
Anthony Martial vs Joe Gomez
United are expected to play on the counter and make use of the pace of their forwards. With Virgil van Dijk virtually unplayable on his day, United are likely to target Joe Gomez on the counter.
Anthony Martial has shown time and again how dangerous he can be. The forward in full flow will be more than a match for Gomez. The Liverpool defender should not fall for Martial’s ability to cut into a central area. The Reds goal should be under no threat as long as Gomez pushes Martial wide in a one on one.
If the Liverpool midfield can gain control of the midfield,it will limit United’s ability to free up runners to support Martial.