Manchester United will renew hostilities with our bitter rivals Liverpool for the second time in over a week but this time it will be in the FA Cup fourth round. It was only last Sunday when both these teams met in a goalless draw in the Premier League. The pre-match hype may not be as much as it was compared to our top of the table clash last weekend. However, the showdown in the FA Cup is still promising to be a great occasion.
There is a spot in the fifth round up for grabs where the winners would play West Ham. Both teams will want to take the opportunity to knock their rivals out of the competition and stop their chances of getting a major trophy. This game could prove pivotal when we look back at the end of the season as United are looking in upward form whereas Liverpool are currently hitting a bad run of form.
A Chance At Major Silverware
Since the 2013/14 season, United have made it to at least the quarter finals of the FA Cup. With both teams in differing form at the moment, United can be considered as the favourites going into this match. We had to overcome Championship side Watford in the third round as we now have seen seven wins and seven clean sheets in the last seven home FA Cup games.
United have only lost one of the last 12 games in all competitions since we were knocked out of the Champions League in December. Our last game saw us come from behind again in the Premier League as we beat Fulham 2-1 on Wednesday night.
The excellent form of Paul Pogba and his brilliant strike against the Cottagers meant we rose back to the top of the league table. This was after both Leicester City and Manchester City both climbed above us before our game at Craven Cottage. United currently hold a two point lead at the top as we have reached halfway stage of the Premier League season.
A victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup will go to cementing our belief that we can be one of the title contenders this season. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think any United fan had expected us to be in the position given our poor form at the start. The title race will become the main priority for us going into the second half of the season.
To win the FA Cup would be great and we have had success in getting to the later rounds of the competition in recent years. However, we have only won this famous trophy once in the last sixteen years.
Liverpool will come to Old Trafford in the midst of a bad run in form. They are in their worst goal drought for 20 years as well. The current Premier League champions succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Burnley on Thursday evening. This means the Merseysiders are currently on a 5 game winless run. They haven’t scored in their last four games.
The defeat to Clarets saw Liverpool’s record of 68 consecutive games without losing at Anfield come to an end. Burnley who are the lowest of the top-flight scorers of the season caused a shock. However, the warning signs had been there for Liverpool in their previous matches.
After their 7-0 victory against Crystal Palace before Christmas, the Merseysiders have only scored once in their last five games. They have failed to score in the last four games, which is their longest drought since May 2000.
Whilst Liverpool’s defence has held up given the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, it is the other end of the pitch that concerns are being raised as the goals have dried up for the attackers. Since they last scored, they have had an incredible 87 shots at goal, which includes 27 against Burnley. The concern will be that only some of them have resulted in clear cut chances for the Reds.
Manager Jürgen Klopp has admitted that the squad is currently lacking confidence following this bad run of form. He has been left scratching his head over how his team that was scoring in every game to a side that has lacked ideas in the third final of the pitch in recent games.
Manchester United vs Liverpool Match Details
Teams: Manchester United vs Liverpool
Date: January 24th, 2020 (Sunday)
KO Time: 17:00 GMT
Competition: FA Cup
Stadium: Old Trafford
Referee: Craig Pawson
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Jürgen Klopp
Manchester United Team News
United will have had an extra day rest heading into this game. It is likely we will see some changes by Solskjær. Marcus Rashford who did not start the game against Fulham will return to the starting eleven. Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay are also pushing for a starting place.
Victor Lindelof who missed the game against Fulham after featuring in the game at Liverpool will return. Ole said in his press conference for the game, “Victor will be fine for the weekend. It was just too quick a turnaround we felt with the travel with his back. I wanted to play Eric [Bailly] against Fulham and Victor wasn’t ready anyway, so we now have four days extra [for Victor]. He got some treatment [on Wednesday] and did some light training so he should be ready for the weekend.”
Ole could also give chances to Dean Henderson and Alex Telles. It is expected the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Pogba, Harry Maguire and Edinson Cavani will feature in this game.
Pre-Match Press Conference
During the pre-match press conference, Ole was asked are you expecting anything different Liverpool given we had only played them a week ago. He responded, “We’ll rotate that’s for sure, but we’ll put a decent team together of course and a team that I feel can win the game. Of course the focus is now on the FA Cup. We know it’s a difficult tie, I’m not the best on draws, I think they should try to get someone else in if they want an easy draw!”
Ole was asked how important is it for United to win silverware and have that winning mentality. He said, “Of course you want to get your hands on a first trophy, but it’s always the league position which is the measure of how far you’ve come. Anyone can have an easy cup run – I’m not one of those, I never get an easy cup run! I’m never going to watch another draw again, we always seem to pick out the difficult opponents! In a cup run you can sometimes get to a final without really playing any of the top ones. This time around we’re drawn with one of the favourites and we know this is a big one if you want to go all the way.”
Liverpool Team News
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk still remain long-term absentees. Captain Jordan Henderson is unlikely to feature after missing the Burnley game due to a muscle strain. Jürgen Klopp has played down the injury but given the quick turnaround of games, Henderson will not recover in time for this fixture.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino who were both on the bench on Thursday evening are expected to return to the starting eleven. Though Sadio Mane might be rested. Klopp may give opportunities to some of the fringe players as the likes of James Milner, Neco Williams, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be given a runout.
Manchester United FA Cup form: W
Manchester United form (all competitions): WLWWDW
Liverpool FA Cup form: W
Liverpool form (all competitions): DDLWDL
- United have won their past seven FA Cup home games without conceding a goal.
- United have not lost in the FA Cup fourth round since a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool in 2012.
- Both teams have met 17 times in the FA Cup, including twice in the 19th century when Manchester United was known as Newton Heath.
- Marcus Rashford has three goals against Liverpool in 5 matches against them. The same number as Liverpool’s front three versus United combined!
- The last time Manchester United met Liverpool in any cup competition was in 2016 in the Europa League under Louis van Gaal. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds won 3-1 on aggregate.
Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba, and Cavani.
This game may see another tactical battle just like we had seen in the league game last weekend. United have attacking players that are currently in much better form than our opponents and this could prove key in this fixture. Given our current form, we are the favourites to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup and a victory for us would also deepen the woes for our bitter rivals Liverpool.
Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool