The battle of the two biggest sides in the country takes place this weekend, and there could hardly have been any other fixture like this due to the positions both sides are in. Liverpool are flying and looking for a record-breaking 18th win on the bounce, while United haven’t won 18 times since Christmas. Reds fans are anticipating a great afternoon at Old Trafford, but in derbies, you just never know what could happen.
The international break could have come at a good time for Jurgen Klopp and the Reds as they have been given extra time to get Mohamed Salah and Alisson back up to speed. However, the latter of those two could be anticipated to make the bench and may not be forced directly back in for this fixture. Salah will likely start the game after limping off in the Reds last league outing against Leicester City. Salah hasn’t enjoyed the best of records against Manchester United, as the Red Devils are one of the only clubs in which the Egyptian has failed to score against. He will be hopeful of breaking that duck on the weekend, and will likely get a host of chances to do so.
The record that Liverpool are gunning for on the weekend is one of the most prestigious in the league and was set by Manchester City in Pep Guardiola’s first title success at the Etihad. Eighteen wins on the bounce would be an unbelievable achievement for this team and could put them on the right path to ending that 30-year wait for a league title. The Reds haven’t had a better squad in the Premier League era, and there is quality everywhere you look.
The added pressure on the front three to deliver the title hasn’t affected their performance levels, and the added attention to Salah has ensured that Sadio Mane has become a preferred option at times. The winger has scored five goals in his eight appearances so far this season and already looks like he could be a potential dark horse to win the Golden Boot this season. The one area of the field where the Reds may be little concerned remains in defence. They have conceded six goals in their last five fixtures in all competitions, and that would displease Klopp to a degree. The place alongside Virgil van Dijk remains up for grabs, but on current form, it would seem that Joel Matip would be the preferred option.
The German has enjoyed an excellent 18 months with the club, and despite being written off by some fans, he has proven to be an excellent addition to a stacked squad. This, however, shouldn’t be much of an issue at Old Trafford as United don’t appear to have the attacking quality that could really hurt the Reds. However, they will need to be aware of Marcus Rashford, who will be high on confidence after scoring in England’s 6-0 win over Bulgaria last week. Regardless, there should be enough about Liverpool to ensure they get three points on what could be a pivotal weekend in the title race.
Liverpool fans could barely believe their luck as the Premier League broke up for the international break. United found themselves just two points above the relegation zone following their loss against Newcastle United, and to make things better Everton were in the bottom three. United were disappointing in that clash against the Toon at St James’ Park. They offered virtually nothing going forward and then were caught on the counter-attack for the winning goal.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have believed the job was huge before he took over, but now he understands the full size of the job that he has on his hands. Injuries haven’t really helped United so far this campaign, and they should welcome back Anthony Martial and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for this clash. But, whether the duo can turn the entire fortunes of the Red Devils around remains to be seen.
Head to Head
The Red Devils hold the advantage in the overall record between the sides as they have won on 88 occasions in the past. Liverpool have won on 76 occasions, and there have been 66 draws. The last meeting between the sides ended in a 0-0 draw, with Liverpool winning the game earlier in the season 3-1. The Reds haven’t won at Old Trafford since their 3-0 success in 2014. The bookmakers put Liverpool at 7/10 favourites (Odds taken from Compare Your Odds.com).
Liverpool Team News
Mohamed Salah should return for the Reds, while Alisson could be on the bench. Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathan Clyne will both be missing.
Manchester United Team News
The Red Devils will be without David De Gea who is missing after picking up an injury while on international duty. Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are also missing for the home side.
Depending on how this game starts, it could be a case of how many Liverpool want to score. United will need to start well to keep their fans onside because if they don’t Old Trafford will become a very uncomfortable place for United. It’s difficult to see anything other than a convincing Reds win from this fixture.