The biggest fixture of English football is set to take place on Sunday as Liverpool head to the Theatre of Dreams to take on Manchester United.
With the Reds still fighting for a spot in the Champions League, a win at Old Trafford will allow Jurgen Klopp to conclude a lacklustre Premier League season on a high note.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men, meanwhile, are fresh from a thumping 6-2 victory over AS Roma in the Europa League and would be keen to deny their old rivals a Champions League berth.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United:
Liverpool have had a miserable season by all standards – the titleholders lost their way midseason and have been able to regroup only in recent weeks.
But Jurgen Klopp’s men are still a formidable unit and they remain in contention for a Champions League berth. The Reds will focus on neutralising the threat from Manchester United on Sunday rather than focussing on a win as all the later encounters in the Premier League are against relatively weaker sides.
Liverpool will likely move back to the standard 4-3-3 formation after their experiment with a 4-2-4 formation failed to yield results against Newcastle.
Mohamed Salah has single-handedly dragged Liverpool back into the top six, scoring 20 goals for the team -which is the second-highest in the league. His ability and skill will be crucial for Liverpool if they wish to emerge victorious on Sunday.
Their defences have been surprisingly solid despite the absence of Van Dijk, Gomez, and with Fabinho in the midfield, as Liverpool have one of the best defencive setups in the Premier League at the moment.
Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez, Nathaniel Phillips and Virgil van Dijk are all injured and will miss the fixture.
Manchester United showed sublime form yesterday to thump Roma 6-2 in the semifinals of the Europa League. Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani both struck twice for the hosts in a comeback win, and the return to form of Bruno Fernandes and Pogba will brighten Solskjær’s day.
The Red Devils have now not lost a fixture since their loss to Leicester in the FA Cup and they also boast one of the longest unbeaten away runs in the Premier League.
Solskjær’s men have won only twice against top-six sides this season, so their prospects are not all that straightforward. But their recent victories against Tottenham and Manchester City will give them the confidence they need to take on the Reds at home.
Old Trafford has always been a fortress, and the last five games at the Theatre of Dreams ended with a victory for the home side.
Anthony Martial is the only injury absentee and Ole Gunnar Solskjær has all other players available to choose from on Sunday. With back-to-back fixtures in the next few weeks, some players are likely to be rested.
HEAD TO HEAD
The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is one of the most high-profile clashes in the world of football. The proximity between both the cities and their glorious pasts have elevated the rivalry to what it is today.
The Red Devils can boast the upper hand in the head-to-head record between both teams – they have defeated Liverpool 81 times while losing 67 times to the Reds. A further 58 fixtures have ended in a draw.
The reverse fixture between both the teams at Anfield back in January ended in a goalless draw, but the most recent encounter between the historic rivals ended in a thrilling 3-2 victory for United in the FA Cup.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Premier League trophy might be slipping away from the Red Devils, but they remain in formidable form. While Jurgen Klopp’s men have rediscovered their form in recent weeks, it might be too little too late for them – the recent draws against Leeds and Newcastle betrayed their lack of drive.
Expect Manchester United to register another victory over their rivals at the Theatre of Dreams.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Philips, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago, Salah, Jota, Firmino.
Manchester United Predicted XI: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Bruno, Rashford, Greenwood.
When: Sunday, 2 May 2021, 9:00 PM IST
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester