In what will be the biggest fixture of the Premier League season so far, Manchester United head to Anfield on Sunday to take on Liverpool. This top of the table clash has taken on extra significance as both of the most successful teams in English football looked to gain the advantage over one another. United go into the fixture in top spot and currently have three more points over the opposition.
United has shaken off the slow start they had to the season. We have gained 29 points out of the last 33 on offer. Our triumphant win against Burnley on Tuesday saw us reach the summit of the table. This is the first time that United have been at the top after 17 games of the season since Sir Alex Ferguson last season at the club during 2012-13, in which we won our last league title.
For the most dominant teams in top-flight history, United and Liverpool last finished in the top two together in the 2008/09 season. There are only four points separating the sides from first to fifth place. It might be a bit soon to say whether we will both finish in the top two. However, if United and Liverpool do maintain their title charge, then the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in May will be one of the biggest showdowns yet.
For United to be considered as title contenders is a testament to the job that Ole, the coaches, and the players have done. With such a poor start to the season, it was feared we would miss out on even the top four. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has stated a victory on Sunday at Anfield would still be a “shock” not matter what the league table may say.
United will travel to Merseyside on Sunday full of confidence of taking all three points. We want to make a statement not only on Liverpool but on the rest of the teams in the league. We have yet to lose a league game away from home this season, having won nine and drawing two of the 11 games.
Away from Old Trafford, United have not lost a league game since their last game against Liverpool nearly a year ago. We have had a run of 12 victories in the last 15 games. 11 of those wins have come in the last 12 games.
A concern for United would be that we have failed to win four of our games so far against the ‘big six’ teams. We have also failed to score from open play in these games with the only goal coming from a Bruno Fernandes penalty against Tottenham in our 6-1 defeat.
Liverpool come into this huge game having suffered a recent blip in form as they have only picked two points from the last three league games. They had drawn against both West Brom and Newcastle United but then lost 1-0 to Southampton in their last league outing. They have never lost back to back league games since Jürgen Klopp was appointed.
Their defeat to Southampton has meant that Liverpool have now dropped 18 points this season. This is more than the two previous league campaigns put together. Another defeat for the Merseysiders would see them begin the calendar year with consecutive defeats for the first time since 1993.
The current league champions did pick up a victory in the FA Cup last week against Aston Villa that contained Under 23’s and 18’s players following a coronavirus outbreak amongst the first team.
The home form of Liverpool cannot be underestimated as they are currently 67 games unbeaten in the league having won 55 of those.
Liverpool vs Manchester United Details
Teams: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Date: January 17th, 2020 (Sunday)
KO Time: 16:30 GMT
Competition: Premier League
Referee: Paul Tierney
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Jürgen Klopp
Manchester United Team News
United have a few injury concerns in regards to the defence as Brandon Williams has been ruled out of this game. Whilst Victor Lindelof remains a doubt having missed the last three games due to a back injury. This may see Ole continue with Maguire and Bailly in the centre of the defence.
Both Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic will have to prove their fitness having picked up knocks during the win against Burnley. Ole said during his press conference that “I’ll give everyone tomorrow as well to prove their fitness, to get a chance to go to that game. There are a couple of knocks that we got at Burnley that I’m not sure about. For us, form goes out the window when you play your rivals. I’m going to give everyone a chance, another day. Anthony is not out of it.”
If Martial does not feature, it would mean that Edinson Cavani steps in to lead the attack through the middle. This in turn could see an in-form Paul Pogba moved further up the field or Mason Greenwood might come into the side. New signing Amad Diallo provides another option. Solskjær has refused to rule him out of featuring in the squad for the game.
Pre-Match Press Conference
During the pre-match press conference, Ole was asked his thoughts ahead of the trip to Anfield on Sunday. He said, “You’re always excited when you’re going to play against teams of that quality and calibre, of course. For us, form goes out the window. It doesn’t really matter if it’s first or last game. You know when you go to Anfield that it’s a big game for the club, a big game for the players, for the fans. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re in good form at the moment.”
A member of the media asked Ole if this is one of the biggest games for you as a manager. He said, “The next one is always the biggest, it’s always the most important. Being, of course, where we are in the league gives us more confidence. It’s a sign of, or an indication, of where we’re at. The game against the champions. They have an amazing record at Anfield. In the league they haven’t lost for many, many years, so it’s a great test for us – can we go there and cause an upset?”
Ole was also asked how much do you feel that you’ve closed the gap between yourself and Jurgen Klopp’s side. He responded with, “We’re a much better side now than a year ago. Then again, we lost that game to a [Virgil] van Dijk header from a corner and a counter-attack in the last kick of the game on our corner. So we were not a million miles away then either. I think that’s a misperception if people say we were a million miles away. We did have some moments in that game ourselves. The league position, that we are competitive, that we are up there with six, seven, eight teams, of course it’s a tighter season this year. I think the last few years, there have been two teams running away with it already by the end of October. Now, at least, we’re in it at halfway.”
Liverpool Team News
Jürgen Klopp had said in his press conference that defender Joel Matip remains a doubt for the game. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Konstantinos Tsimikas and Diogo Jota currently remain on the sidelines. Whilst Naby Keita will not feature on Sunday as Klopp urges on the side of caution in his return to the side from injury.
Thiago Alcantara is likely to feature as he makes his home debut for Liverool having signed at the start of the season before being restricted by the amount of games due to injury.
Manchester United Premier League form: WWDWWW
Manchester United form (all competitions): DWWLWW
Liverpool Premier League form: DWWDDL
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWDDLW
- United will be top of the table going into a Premier League meeting with Liverpool for the first time since January 2013 under Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Red Devils going on to win the title in that campaign.
- Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games against Liverpool.
- The Red Devils are aiming to win more than seven of their opening nine away matches of a league season for only the second time, having previously done it in the 1993/94 season.
- United are unbeaten in 11 Premier League matches since losing to Arsenal on 1 November.
- Manchester United have not won at Anfield since 2016 (D2 L2).
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has only failed to beat two teams in the Premier League since taking over as United manager. Liverpool and Arsenal.
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba, and Martial.
This is one most the hugely anticipated game of the season as these two fiercest rivals go toe-to-toe against each other. United are beginning to show signs of restoring former glories and will want to show the Merseysiders that we are definitely up for a title fight. Both teams have the ability to attack and cause problems for each other. United’s vulnerability this season has been at set pieces and it is not something they want to concede from on Sunday.
We have to be wary of the threat that Liverpool can pose to us. Therefore we are going to have to give everything in order to secure the victory. It is promising to be one of those unmissable games. In the past, these big games have sometimes flattered to deceive but I don’t think on Sunday that will be the case.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United