One of the biggest games in England will bring an end to Gameweek 17 of the Premier League when Liverpool and Manchester United meet at Anfield on Sunday.
The curtains will fall on Gameweek 17 of the Premier League with a blockbuster encounter. Liverpool will play hosts to Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday evening, hoping to return to the top of the table following Manchester City’s win over Everton on Saturday.
Liverpool have been on a roll this season, especially in the Premier League, where very little has stopped them. In fact, the Reds remain the only unbeaten side in the English top-flight, and come into this tie buoyed by their crucial 1-0 win in the UEFA Champions League over Napoli.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are on the opposite side of the spectrum, at least as far as the ‘big 6’ battle is concerned, with a title challenge practically out of the question. Their most recent result was far from ideal as well, as Valencia beat a second string side 2-1 at the Mestalla in Europe.
The corresponding fixture in the 2017-18 season, played in October last year, ended in a goalless draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has a bit of an injury crisis to deal with ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Sunday, the Liverpool boss could be without as many as five first-team players, with the availability of defenders, or lack thereof, being particularly concerning.
Those who are set to miss out include Joel Matip (shoulder), Joe Gomez (leg) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), who is out for the season. Klopp is also sweating over the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is battling against time to shrug off a knock that he picked in the game against Napoli.
The good news though, is that Nathaniel Clyne is fit and available, and could be in for a start, although James Milner is the likelier candidate. In the absence of Matip and Gomez, Dejan Lovren is all but certain to start at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Andrew Robertson is an automatic selection as left-back, and will have more offensive responsibilities in the absence of Alexander-Arnold.
In midfield, Klopp has the riches available to him, and will have a big decision to make, as regards the style of play. With Milner expected to be the right-back, the triumvirate in the middle of the park pretty much picks itself, that being Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Upfront, with Klopp set to implement a 4-3-3, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane become certain starters. Salah’s advent in form bodes well for the Reds, while Firmino will relish playing as a false nine once again. Mane though, will need to step up and address his wastefulness.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Milner, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Jose Mourinho has a number of pressing concerns hampering his preparations for the visit to Liverpool. On Sunday, the Manchester United boss could be without as many as nine first-team players due to injuries and fitness troubles.
Those who will not play any part against Liverpool are Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez, both of whom could have played for the final time in 2018. Mourinho is also sweating over the fitness of several other players, probably leaving his team selection to the late hours before the game.
Diogo Dalot has had several days to work on his match fitness after missing the trip to Valencia, and could return as the right-back once again, with Ashley Young, who is already a confirmed starter, being deployed on the opposite flank. Manchester United’s central defensive partnership though, is anyone’s guess, with Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo both doubtful.
If fit, Smalling should start and hope to celebrate signing a new deal with a solid outing at the heart of the Manchester United defence. His partner should be Eric Bailly, who played no part against Valencia.
In midfield, Paul Pogba is likely to drop to the bench once again, following his poor showing against Valencia. Nemanja Matic is set to return though, with the tenacious Ander Herrera likely to be his partner in the midfield pivot. Meanwhile, 4-2-3-1 is expected to be the formation of choice for Mourinho once again on Sunday.
As a result, Juan Mata should start once again, especially with Anthony Martial’s availability being doubtful. Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford have been confirmed as starters as well, with the former starting in the free role behind the striker, who should be Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian needs to deliver, having been far from his best for much of the season.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Dalot, Bailly, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap +1.5 @ 1.575
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.72
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.50
- Liverpool could go nine league games without a win in this fixture for the first time since 1987. The two sides could also play out three successive draws at Anfield for the first time since 1921.
- Liverpool have 42 points from their first 16 Premier League games. The Reds have not had a higher tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign.
- Manchester United have conceded 26 goals in 16 Premier League games this season – just two fewer than in the whole of 2017-18.
- Manchester United trail Liverpool by 16 points, their biggest deficit before Christmas since a similar margin in 1990.
- Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have yet to score or assist for the club in 855 Premier League minutes against Manchester United.
Player to Watch
Up until the last few weeks, there had only been one standout in the season for Manchester United. Anthony Martial’s exploits were almost singlehandedly delivering the results for the Red Devils. In his absence though, Marcus Rashford has stepped up, and how.
In a period that could have seen the Red Devil’s struggle to no end, Rashford has taken on the mantle of being the much needed leader in attack. And, on Sunday, the young Englishman will need to deliver once again, if Manchester United are to go back home with some sort of a haul.
This is proving to be a turning point in Marcus Rashford’s career. Can he repeat his superlative performance from the last time he faced off against Liverpool?
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United’s form in the Premier League has been far from ideal, particularly on the road – they only have one win from their last five away games. Liverpool, on the other hand, haven’t lost a game at home, with the record of conceding just once at Anfield being all the more impressive.
But, oftentimes, form goes out the window in games of such magnitude, and that could well be the case on Sunday as well. As some of the outings in games against the fellow ‘big six’ sides would suggest, Mourinho and his men have stepped up considerably when the going has been tough.
We expect Manchester United to turn up to a great extent on Sunday as well, with Liverpool finding it tough to end their recent voodoo against the Red Devils. In the end, the honours should be shared, with the match ending in a 1-1 draw.