Venue – Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, October 20th @ 16:30
Current Odds – Manchester United 7/2, Draw 3/1, Liverpool 8/11
It’s the biggest game of the season for both clubs, no matter what predicament either side finds themselves in at the time.
Manchester United against Liverpool is as atmospheric a fixture as you will find in the Premier League. The recently-suffering Old Trafford crowd will be anxious for something to cheer about this season as the European Champions – and current Premier League leaders – come to town. Can Solskjaer’s men raise their game or will the gulf in class be clear for all to see on the day?
Manchester United Form
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a man under pressure. You can see with the naked eye just how much the United job has aged the ‘baby-faced assassin’ in the months since he was appointed full-time boss. It’s like watching an even stranger version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The club has made it’s worst top-flight start since the 1989/90 season and it’s not about to get any easier for the Old Trafford side.
They are without a win in their last three league games, losing two of those. And Solskjaer’s men barely overcame the mighty Rochdale via a penalty shootout on their home turf in the Carabao Cup. In fact, it’s been five games without a win in normal time for The Red Devils, and that was when they beat Astana 1-0 at home in the Europa League.
Liverpool have won their opening 8 Premier League games of the season and sit 8 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, currently. The Reds have now won 17 league games on the trot since drawing 0-0 at Everton back in March.
Liverpool’s only negative this season was their 2-0 loss at Napoli in the Champions League.
Manchester United Team News
Life hasn’t been easy for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford in recent months. To be fair, he has been dealing with something of an injury crisis at the club.
David De Gea and Paul Pogba are two more players who are now, allegedly, added to the United injury list.
They are expected to miss Sunday’s game, along with Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard.
United also have concerns regarding the fitness of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. However, I expect all of those players to make the matchday squad at least.
Liverpool Team News
Alisson Becker is expected to return to the starting lineup for Liverpool on Sunday. While it may seem cruel on our stand-in ‘keeper, Adrian, the Brazilian international is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world over the last 12-18 months. Alisson’s reinstatement was inevitable as soon as he was deemed fit and available for selection.
Jurgen Klopp has some other slight injury concerns regarding Mohamed Salah, Joel Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri.
It has been reported that Matip has recovered from a knock so I expect him to start in defence, as I also expect Salah to start on the right-hand side of the front three. Salah was injured by a poor challenge from Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury before the international break. Shaqiri will face a late fitness test to see if he can make the matchday squad.
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1) – Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Matic; James, Mata, Rashford; Martial
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool haven’t won at Old Trafford since 2014 when a 3-0 victory was spearheaded by Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and co.
Last season’s fixture in Manchester was a dour 0-0 draw. Liverpool won 3-1 when the sides met at Anfield last December thanks to goals from Sadio Mané and super-sub Xherdan Shaqiri (x2).
Manchester United 1 – 1 Liverpool
While Manchester United languish in 12th-place in the Premier League table, it’s still hard to be too confident as a Liverpool fan when travelling to Old Trafford. Indeed, United is the club Klopp has earned the least amount of league points against in his time at Anfield, and the only club with a better record against Liverpool in head-to-heads in that time.
Yes, this Liverpool team should be beating this United team. Call it old-fashioned pessimism on my part, if you want. I’m predicting a draw on Sunday. Please, let me be wrong.