Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Sunday, January 17th @ 16:30
Current Odds – Liverpool 19/20, Draw 14/5, Manchester United 13/5
The biggest game in English football, one of the biggest fixtures in the world. It’s at Anfield and it’s this Sunday. Sadly, there won’t be any fans in the ground for the most-important Liverpool vs United game in years.
Let’s hope we have something to sing about from the comfort of our own couches come the end of the 90 minutes.
Liverpool have lost their grip on the Premier League top-spot with United leapfrogging them last Tuesday night. Jürgen Klopp’s Reds have had a tough run of form, going without a win in their last three league matches. They have only won twice of three of their last 8 games in all competitions and one of those victories was in the FA Cup against Aston Villa’s youth players.
The form book can often go out the window in rival clashes, however. Liverpool could pick no better game to find their scoring touch once again than this Sunday’s.
Manchester United Form
Manchester United have climbed to the summit of the Premier League following their disappointing exit at the Champions League group stage.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men have lost three league games this season. Strangely, they were all at Old Trafford (Crystal Palace, Spurs, Arsenal). In fact, United haven’t lost an away game in the Premier League since Liverpool beat them 2-0 at Anfield last January.
On Tuesday night, United had their last outing, winning 1-0 at 16th-placed Burnley thanks to a second-half strike from Paul Pogba.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas. It also looks like Joël Matip and Naby Keïta are losing their race to be fit for Sunday.
With Matip probably out, Jürgen Klopp may opt for the experience of Jordan Henderson to partner Fabinho in defence, ahead of both Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
If Henderson does drop back, it means Thiago Alcântara is more likely to start in the ‘6’ role at the base of the midfield trio. Expect Gini Wijnaldum and one of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner or Curtis Jones to make up the rest of the triumvirate. It could well be Oxlade-Chamberlain as Milner’s legs are certainly not what they used to be.
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané should start in the forward line with everyone hoping they can regain that cutting edge that has been missing in recent weeks.
Manchester United Team News
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is likely to stick with his 4-2-3-1 shape for this one.
Out for United are Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo due to injury.
Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelöf will face late fitness tests to determine their availability ahead of Sunday’s fixture.
United’s three ‘attacking midfielders’, or supporting attackers, will need to be watched carefully if Liverpool are to get any joy on Sunday. We all know the threat of the excellent Bruno Fernandes by now while Paul Pogba is enjoying a slight return to form as well.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1) – De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Almost a year to the day, Liverpool welcomed United to Anfield last. Jürgen Klopp’s Redmen won that one comfortably, 2-0. Virgil van Dijk headed The Reds in front in the opening 15 minutes and then Mohamed Salah scored a fantastic breakaway goal to seal the deal in second-half injury-time.
Anfield was packed that day and after that victory, the belief finally grew around the ground that Liverpool were going to end their 30-year-wait for the league title.
“And now you’re gonna believe us, and now you’re gonna believe us…”
LIVERPOOL 1 – 1 MANCHESTER UNITED
Liverpool dominated the game when United last visited Anfield. If they can exert the same control over Sunday’s fixture, it should be another three points for The Reds. However, we know the penalty gods have been smiling down on United in recent years. Fabinho and co will need to be extra careful not to give Bruno Fernandes any opportunities from the spot.
My fear is that with Liverpool’s current dip in form, they will struggle to create enough chances to take all three points. It could be a very tough afternoon at Anfield for both sides. That’s why I’m predicting a draw in this one.