Manchester United and Liverpool will resume their rivalry on Sunday evening when they lock horns in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford.
Just a week after they battled it out at Anfield in the Premier League, Manchester United and Liverpool will come face to face once again in the fourth round of the 2020/21 FA Cup this weekend, this time at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have strung together a brilliant run of results that has seen them sit atop the Premier League standings. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have lost just one of their last 12 games in all competitions, most recently beating Fulham 2-1 in the league earlier this week. The Red Devils had defeated Watford 1-0 in the FA Cup third round and will be hoping to progress further in the competition.
Liverpool, meanwhile, head into Sunday’s game on the back of a poor run that has seen them win just one in six in all competitions, with their most recent fixture ending in a shock 1-0 loss to Burnley at Anfield. The Reds looked good in their opening fixture of the FA Cup this term as they beat a weakened Aston Villa side 4-1 and will be aiming to get things back on track with a victory against their arch-rivals.
As mentioned previously, Manchester United and Liverpool have already faced each other once this term, in the Premier League, with the game ending in a goalless draw. And ahead of their latest meeting at Old Trafford on Sunday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United will welcome Victor Lindelof back into the fold after the Swede missed the midweek game against Fulham due to a persistent back problem. Brandon Williams and Phil Jones are the only two players that will be unavailable for selection for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when Liverpool come visiting this weekend.
It will be interesting to see whether Solskjaer fields his strongest XI or brings in some of the non-regulars that he has used in cup games so far this term for Sunday’s contest. Unlike the Watford game though, the manager might refrain from making wholesale alterations, although there will be a few key changes here and there.
In goal, Dean Henderson should get the nod, as he has done in the cup games so far this term. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the obvious starter at right-back given the lack of competition for his place. The former Crystal Palace man will need to be at his best against Sadio Mane, but also provide an outlet down the right when his team are in possession.
But, Alex Telles is in line to replace Luke Shaw at left-back, despite the Englishman’s top performances in recent weeks, including in the draw against Liverpool. The Brazilian will be key with his forward forays and ability to hit accurate crosses into the box. The returning Lindelof ought to partner Manchester United captain Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence.
Scott McTominay should come into the side after not starting against Fulham. He, along with midfield partner Fred, will be key in shackling Liverpool and ensuring they are unable to settle into a rhythm. The creative onus will invariably fall on the shoulders of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, with the latter likely to operate on the left flank and veer in to try and make things happen.
That would mean summer signing Donny van de Beek misses out of the starting XI once again. Marcus Rashford ought to start on the right flank after playing only a few minutes in midweek. He will need to be more clinical in front of goal than he has been of late for his team to stand a chance. Edinson Cavani will be the man spearheading the United attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani
Liverpool have no fresh injury concerns ahead of their trip to Old Trafford this weekend. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita are all sidelined, while captain Jordan Henderson is a doubt after missing the Burnley defeat to a fitness problem.
Jurgen Klopp will likely have an eye on the Premier League game against Tottenham a few days later when he selects the team to start at Old Trafford. But, nevertheless, the German tactician is unlikely to veer away a lot from his preferred starting XI on Sunday evening.
That said, Alisson Becker should continue in goal ahead of Caiomhin Kelleher while Joel Matip and Fabinho form the central defensive pairing once again. The duo will have their task cut out against Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford, with the latter particularly likely to cause them problems with his pace.
Andrew Robertson is a certain starter at left-back even though Kostas Tsimikas has returned to full fitness. The Scotsman will be a vital player for Liverpool in terms of their chance-creation with his forward runs. On the opposite flank, Trent Alexander-Arnold could make way for Neco Williams, after a disastrous display against Burnley.
Henderson’s selection poses a big dilemma for Klopp, especially with the Tottenham game looming. As a result, he might refrain from starting with his captain on Sunday, with James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum providing the solidity in the middle while Curtis Jones will be tasked with driving Liverpool forward with the ball.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both did not start in midweek against Burnley and should feature from kick-off at Old Trafford. Sadio Mane, too, is expected to hold on to his place in the Liverpool attack against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Williams, Gomez, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last seven home games against Liverpool across all competitions (W3 D4).
- Liverpool are undefeated in their last 6 matches against Manchester United in all competitions.
- Manchester United have won their last seven home games in the FA Cup without conceding a single goal. The last time they let in a goal at Old Trafford in the competition was in 2015/16 against West Ham United.
- Liverpool have been eliminated from the FA Cup by Manchester United more than by any other opponent in the competition (9 – including final defeats).
- Liverpool have won two of the last three games between the two teams in the FA Cup. However, Manchester United have won all four previous matches against the Merseysiders played at home in the competition.
Player to Watch
From making headlines for all the wrong reasons last month, the Frenchman is making all the right noises over the past couple of weeks. Paul Pogba, five years after returning to Manchester United, is starting to show on a consistent basis why the club had splashed the cash to bring him back from Juventus.
At a time when Bruno Fernandes has seen a slight dip, the 2018 World Cup winner has stepped up in a huge way and has been the difference-maker for Manchester United, scoring the winning goal against Burnley last week, which was followed by another match-winning strike against Fulham earlier this week.
In between those two goals though, Pogba missed a fine chance to find the back of the net and lead Manchester United to a huge win against Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. And, he will be hoping to make amends when the two teams clash again this week at Old Trafford.
Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool
Liverpool head into Sunday’s game on the back of a difficult run of results. Just one win in six matches, that includes a shock defeat at Anfield, will certainly have had an effect on their morale. Manchester United, on the other hand, have momentum on their side, with five wins and one loss in their last seven games in all competitions.
While it is true that Manchester United struggled at home earlier this season, but they have managed to string together positive results at Old Trafford of late, winning four in five. Considering that the Liverpool forwards have been firing blanks of late – the Reds have not scored a goal in four of their last five games, we at The Hard Tackle are backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. to pick up a narrow win on Sunday.