Manchester United face Liverpool in a key clash for both teams, as the two sides looks to make a statement in a hotly contested derby game
The first fixture between these two traditional rivals this season ended in a rather tame draw. The 0-0 result at Anfield wasn’t what was expected from such a high octane encounter, and barbs have since been exchanged about setting up defensively and playing it cautious.
However, as the Reds travel to Old Trafford, fans will be hoping the Northwest derby proves to be all it’s cracked up to be. The two sides fortune’s have changed since their last game, and it is Manchester United who head into the game full of confidence.
However, Jurgen Klopp and his men have been taking the Premier League by storm this season, and recent results may prove to be a glitch rather than the trajectory. With the big game on Sunday fast approaching, here are five reasons for you to look forward to this epic encounter.
1. Rooney to break the record against his most hated rivals?
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Wayne Rooney really doesn’t like Liverpool. The Englishman was rejected by the club as a nine-year-old, and has since gone on to steal the show for their two great rivals in Everton and Manchester United.
It’s been a long time since that trial, and Rooney now stands on the cusp of history. He just needs one more goal to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals for Manchester United, and he would absolutely love to score it against the Old Enemy.
The game against Liverpool provides the Croxteth-born United striker a perfect opportunity to mark a momentous occasion in an already larger-than-life success story.
2. The 50th Premier League game
The match at Old Trafford on Sunday the 15th of January, 2017 will be the fiftieth tie between the two traditional rivals in the Premier League era. While Liverpool were the dominant force in England and Europe in the 70’s and 80’s, Manchester United have managed to knock them off their perch.
This is reflected in their record in the Premier League era. The Red Devils can boast of 27 victories to Liverpool’s 13, and will look to improve on this record. Liverpool, on the other hand, have managed some stellar victories over United, and will want to improve on their own record in this fixture.
3. Klopp and Mkhitaryan turn against each other
They are two of the biggest imports from the Bundesliga, but they find themselves on opposite sides after building their reputations by working together. Jurgen Klopp will come up against one of his most valued players at Dortmund, as Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks set to start for United.
This is the first time that the two will come up against each other, as Mkhitaryan was out injured during the goalless draw at Anfield. Klopp has already termed Mkhitaryan ‘world-class’ ahead of the game, and it looks like the mutual respect will still be there regardless of this game’s result.
4. The sheer physicality
There may be many football fans who are ardent admirers the Spanish game of free-flowing, fluid football. However, the English game built its foundation on solid sheer, brutal and sometimes over-the-top physicality, with hard-nosed defenders and no nonsense midfield generals.
The Northwest derby seems to have calmed down quite a bit, but the pressure cooker atmosphere of Old Trafford combined with what’s at stake is sure to bring out that competitive edge and nasty side in many of the players involved. Liverpool’s high pressing style is also sure to get under the skin of many a United player.
We can only pray that Adam Lallana doesn’t get too carried away.
5. Mourinho versus Klopp — Attack versus attack
Jose Mourinho has managed to get the better of his German counterpart only once in six games. The Portuguese manager will be hoping to get the better of Klopp this time around, and it will all be down to the tactical set-up.
Last time out, Mourinho complained about Liverpool playing two central midfielders and thwarting his plans. This time he will hope that his side can outplay the high pressing Reds this time around. Manchester United have shown attacking prowess while dominating possession in recent games, and this sets up the game quite nicely.
Liverpool are one of the most attacking teams in the league this season, and if both teams go all out, we could end up seeing some quite brilliant end-to-end football this Sunday.