It’s been rare for there to be such a muted build-up to England’s biggest football fixture of the season. As the two titans clash for the 201st time, the teams are worlds apart in both performance levels and results. Not since 2012 has there been such a great points tally between the sides and up until last weekend ‘the great Manchester United’ were still on a negative goal difference!
Liverpool v Manchester United
Embed from Getty Images
16th December 2018
UK TV channel: Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League
The relatively quiet lead up to the match is mainly due to Liverpool’s must-win Champion’s League tie on Tuesday night. However, once Napoli were dispatched heads immediately turned to winning another three points against the old enemy on Sunday.
Liverpool head into the clash on the back of an impressive four successive wins. Having not recorded a league loss all season, they will be confident of keeping a 13th clean sheet in just 23 games.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Mancs come into the game with only two wins in their last seven outings. Their poor start to the season has seen increasing pressure mount on manager, Jose Mourinho, who sees Liverpool as arguably his greatest foe of his managerial career.Embed from Getty Images
In recent years Liverpool have dominated these fixtures but not come away with a win. With no domestic victory over United since 2014, it’s about time Liverpool got the win that they have deserved.
The poor run of form against United has been made better by the knowledge that in that time, we have beaten them in the clubs’ only European meeting (the 2016 Europa League round of 16).
Whenever Mourinho comes to town he looks to shut up shop. His side are likely to have a low amount of possession and look to frustrate Liverpool into playing backwards and sideways.
Fellaini and Matic are likely to start, who will break up play and waste as much time as possible. Their height should also be enough to deal with aimless crosses which Liverpool may start to deliver as the game reaches its final stages.
Despite Mourinho’s predicted anti-football tactics, Jurgen Klopp should have confidence in the ability of his team to create enough chances to win the game.
Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Fabinho are all expected to regain their place in the team, adding creativity, although Fabinho may find himself at right-back (his position for the Brazilian national team) as a result of injuries to Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.Embed from Getty Images
One of the main talking points for Liverpool’s team selection is that of the right-full back position. Klopp has told the press that long-term absentee, Nathaniel Clyne is ‘ready’ but admits he doesn’t know if he can do 90 minutes.
Other options include utility man, James Milner and the aforementioned Fabinho. An outside shout is the more attacking Rafa Camacho. The youngster played against United in pre-season and impressed up against a team featuring the likes of Sanchez, Mata and Herrera.
At centre-back, Dejan Lovren should return, due to Joel Matip sustaining a broken collar-bone at the end of the midweek Champion’s League match.
Manchester United also have their own injuries worries. The in-form Antony Martial is a doubt as well as Darmian, Shaw and Smalling. Alexis Sanchez and Lindelof also remain sidelined.
Top of the table before the start of the weekend. Given the chance to regain top spot after Manchester City went top with their win over Everton this weekend, the pressure is on for the Reds and hopefully they can come away with all three points.