Clash of Reds: Man United v/s Liverpool – Preview

Introduction

The giants of the premier league face each other on a Super Sunday. Fresh from their 3-2 wins respectively in the Champions League midweek, both the teams will be high on confidence. Liverpool is just a point adrift at the top whereas Man United has dropped to the sixth position due to a string of poor results. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will certainly be under pressure to deliver a win in this game. Man United hasn’t beaten Liverpool in a league game since 2018. Liverpool on the other hand will be eyeing consecutive victories over the Red Devils at Old Trafford for the first time since 2002.

Manchester United hasn’t kept a clean sheet at Old Trafford since April. It looks more unlikely they are going to turn the tides around against an in-form Liverpool side. Man United also have their problems in the center of the park. Their midfield also looks imbalanced and their gameplay has looked more open against Leicester and in the first half against Atalanta. They would need to be more compact if they want to keep a clean sheet and secure all three points.

Liverpool on the other hand has scored 14 goals in just four away games so far this season. In their last game against Watford away, they scored five. They have also kept four clean sheets this season. With Mo Salah already in sensational form, Sadio Mane has also regained his lost confidence in front of the goal.

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Team News

Marcus Rashford and Fred are in doubt for this game after coming off injured against Atalanta. In his press conference, Ole Solskjaer claimed that Bruno Fernandes is also uncertain as he was seen limping in training. Solskjaer is optimistic about Rashford’s fitness. Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo could return to bolster the attacking options up front. Raphael Varane is out of contention due to a long-term groin injury.

Liverpool is hopeful of welcoming Curtis Jones back in time to face the Red Devils. Thiago Alcantara is expected to remain out alongside Harvey Elliott for the time being. Fabinho was named on the bench in the midweek game but is sure to replace either James Milner or Naby Keita in the XI. Curtis Jones could be one of the partners in the heart of the midfield alongside Jordan Henderson.

Predicted Line Ups

Manchester United

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: David de Gea
Defense: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood
Attack: Cristiano Ronaldo

Injuries/Doubtful: Raphael Varane, Fred, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes

Managers : Ole (United) and Klopp (Liverpool)
Managers: Ole (United) and Klopp (Liverpool)

Liverpool

Formation: 4-3-3

Goalkeeper: Alisson
Defense: Trent-Alexander Arnold, Joël Matip, Virgil Van Dijk, Andy Robertson
Midfield: Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Fabinho
Attack: Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Injuries/Doubtful: Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliott, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones

Tactical Analysis

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has been rigid with his formation (4-2-3-1) and has persisted in playing the same way week in week out. At beginning of the season Ole Solskjaer did play with different formations in the warm-up games but that’s again gone under wraps during matchdays. The question remains, can they switch to a 4-3-3 or a 4-1-2-1-2 (Diamond) or a 4-4-2. The main issue with Man Utd is their imbalance in the midfield, where they fail to control the game. They have been open in defense, sloppy in midfield (losing the ball easily), and not so clinical upfront. They’ve also been conceding goals in a similar manner for the past two and a half seasons now.

Liverpool on the other hand has always had a strong foundation in the heart of the defense and midfield. Their system relies on full-backs to run past the defenders and create spaces/crosses for the attackers. At times, Liverpool’s attacking shape during the game resembles more of a 2-1-4-3 where we usually see both full-backs push up to the midfield alongside Henderson/Kieta/Fabinho. The 4-3-3 formation has been fluid for them with players roaming and interchanging positions. This makes Liverpool unpredictable and difficult to withstand.

Players to watch out for

Firmino mane (Liverpool)
Firmino mane (Liverpool)

Liverpool

Sadio Mane

The Senegalese forward has rediscovered his form this season. After a goal drought and a string of sub-par performances, Sadio Mane this season has already netted five goals so far this season. Salah-Mane partnership is certainly going to be a threat for the defenders

Roberto Firmino

Injury to Diogo Jota has meant Roberto Firmino has once again made it to starting XI. He has grabbed his chances with both hands scoring four goals & providing one assist in six games in this PL campaign. Firmino though underrated as compared to Salah and Mane has scored plenty of goals along with his teammates. The Man United defense will be wary of the deadly Liverpool front three.

Manchester United

Pogba Greenwood ( Manchester United)
Pogba Greenwood ( Manchester United)

Mason Greenwood

The young attacker has shown plenty of promise and has already scored crucial goals for the Red Devils. Mason Greenwood has scored four goals in eight games so far this season. With Fernandes & Rashford possibly out of contention, Ole Solskjaer will expect Greenwood to step up and fill the vacuum. If Greenwood does link up well with Ronaldo & Sancho, we can expect goals upfront.

Paul Pogba

The French star would need to step up if Bruno does make a cut in starting XI. Pogba though inconsistent at times has shown versatility in the past and has proved he can play an 8 or a 10. Given an opportunity to start in his favored position, Pogba can cause plenty of havoc with his skills, creativity, clinical passing, and through balls.

The Clash Of The Titans

Mo Salah

The talismanic winger has already scored seven goals this campaign and is one of the front runners for the Golden Boot race. Salah has scored three goals in the last two games at Old Trafford (2 in FA cup & 1 in PL). Even when Liverpool was hit with injuries, Mo Salah kept scoring in crucial games. This is why Liverpool ended up qualifying in the Top 4. This season Salah has been absolutely at his peak. Even when he is not scoring he is creating chances for his teammates Sadio Mane/Roberto Firmino. If Man United doesn’t learn from their mistakes, expect Salah to score a goal or two again.

Ronaldo VS Salah
Ronaldo VS Salah

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese star once again stole the headlines midweek after scoring a late winner against Atalanta in the midweek. Cristiano Ronaldo made an impact straight away after re-joining the Red Devils by scoring three goals in the first two matches. The goals in the PL have since dried up. What better time to start scoring against arch-rivals in front of packed Old Trafford. Undoubtedly, Cristiano Ronaldo could again be the most marked man in the final third. With proper services offered, it will be no surprise if the Portuguese Talisman does score a goal or two. As Fernandes is in doubt for this weekend, Ole would want Ronaldo at his absolute best, for a Man United win.

Conclusion

Even if these two teams are at their best or not, the clash is certainly a show stealer no matter what. Manchester United needs all three points to stay in the title race. A win for Liverpool would put them at the top of the league if Chelsea fails to get three points against Norwich. With the form, Liverpool is in currently, it is going to be a huge task for the Red Devils to go toe-to-toe with them.

Prediction: Manchester United 2 – Liverpool 3

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