It’s finally here. The match we’ve all been waiting for. Liverpool will welcome bitter rivals Manchester United to Anfield in what promises to be one of the most exciting encounters of the season so far. The Reds face the Red Devils in a truly top-of-the-table clash. The outcome of this clash will have massive repercussions on the title race. It’s the biggest match in football, if not sport, and fans all over the world can’t wait to witness the battle at Anfield.
Form and Buildup
They are coming into this match on the back of a win, but the circumstances under which they won should not be ignored. They beat a Villa side in the FA Cup, which comprised of U18 and U23 players, and even struggled against them in phases. Their PL form has been abject, to say the least. Winless in their last 3 matches. The Reds lost for just the second time this season against Southampton last time, following two draws against Newcastle and West Brom. Their form doesn’t look great on paper. But they do have an opportunity to regroup and work towards a result on Sunday in their lengthy break post-Villa.
United, on the other hand, is coming in much stronger than their rivals. They have won four out of their last five games and look in fine form going into their encounter with Liverpool. Despite losing against City in the Carabao cup, for the first time in Ole’s reign, there is some level of consistency. On the form, United have the edge – but when it comes to derbies like this, anything can happen.
Liverpool form guide in the Premier League: L-D-D-W-W
Manchester United form guide in the Premier League: W-W-W-D-W
In 33 previous encounters between the two sides, Manchester United holds a clear advantage. They have won 15 games, lost 11, and drawn seven.
Liverpool is going into this match without their first choice Center Back pairing of Van Dijk and Gomez. Naby Keita has also been ruled out with a muscle injury. Their backup goalkeeper Adrian did not attend training on Friday. One of the major talking points is the fitness of Joel Matip. The Center Back did not attend full training but did take part in light exercises on Friday, and may feature against United. The Cameroonian might not be rushed into such a high-pressure match though, having not played in three weeks since his injury.
United, on the other hand, is relatively injury free going into this match. All their important players are fit and raring to go against. They have also been boosted by the return of Edinson Cavani in the last match. He will definitely have a part to play in Sunday’s match. Barring any late injury news, United will be traveling to Anfield with a majorly fit squad.
- Liverpool has won their last two Premier League games at home against Manchester United. Last managing to win three on the trot back in March 2011. In fact, the Red Devils are winless in their last four league games versus Liverpool (D2 L2), their worst run without a win against their arch-rivals since a streak of five between March 2000 and January 2002.
- Liverpool is winless in three Premier League games (D2 L1), failing to score in their last two. They last went four matches without a win in February 2017 (a run of five). While they have not failed to score in three consecutive league games since March 2005.
- Liverpool lost their first league game of 2021 but have not started a calendar year with successive defeats in the top-flight since 1993. However, the Reds are unbeaten in 67 home games in the Premier League (W55 D12), finding the net in each of their last 42 at Anfield.
- Manchester United have won none of their three Premier League games versus Liverpool with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their manager (D2 L1) – the only two Red Devils managers to fail to win their first four league games against Liverpool are John Chapman (1921-26) and Tommy Docherty (1973-76).
- Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games against Liverpool. Those goals being worth four points to Manchester United. Only Wayne Rooney (6), Andy Cole (4), and Ryan Giggs (4) have scored more Premier League goals against Liverpool for the Red Devils.
Players To Watch Out For
Our Egyptian King hasn’t been at his best in the past few games, but I strongly feel that he has the potential to make the difference against United. Every Liverpool fan will remember his amazing run and finish past De Gea and his iconic celebration with Alisson last time at Anfield. He can make a similar impact this time as well, and if he does, it will add some much-needed confidence to his game.
This is a bit of a left-field pick, but one should undermine Robertson at their peril. Robertson or ‘Robbo’ as he’s called by us Liverpool fans – has been one of the standout players this season. His explosive runs down the left and his linkup play with Sadio Mané has been pivotal in helping Liverpool score the highest number of goals this season. Robo’s defensive work is also top-notch, and he tracks back whenever needed. His pace and crossing ability will be important in taking advantage of United’s mediocre backline this Sunday.
Bruno has been so important to Manchester United’s recent progress under Solskjaer. He has had a transformative effect and has the ability to unlock defenses at will. The Portuguese will play an important role in Sunday’s match and can be detrimental to Liverpool’s chances of winning this vital game. The battle promises to be interesting and Bruno will need to be handled carefully.
Liverpool’s attack is one of the best in the world and often steals the headlines, but their midfield has also played an important part in their resurgence under Klopp. Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and now Thiago are all superb players and important in Liverpool’s tempo and buildup. They can run riot over midfield’s which are weak. And that’s where Paul Pogba comes in. He will need to manage their midfield carefully and ensure that Thiago and co don’t dominate possession. His passing ability will also be key in helping United create chances against the mighty Reds.
This match is evenly poised. Both teams have their strength and weaknesses and will try to take advantage wherever possible. United will be looking to extend their lead at the top, while Liverpool will be looking to replace their rivals there. It promises to be a wonderful night, filled with goals, action, and above all – beautiful football.
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