Liverpool will travel to Old Trafford this weekend to take on Manchester United in what promises to be another exciting and crucial fixture between the historic rivals. Both sides are engaged in a four-way race along with defending champions Manchester City and Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in their quest to win the Premier League title this season, and every point can make or break their fortunes. While the Reds enter the fixture on the back of a perfect start to the season, the Red Devils are in need of a course correction if they want to end their wait for a return to the top of the table.
The fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United is considered the biggest match of English football, and this season’s stakes make the fixture even bigger in scope. Here’s our preview of Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United:
The Red Devils began the season as title favourites – the arrival of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane made the United lineup one of the strongest in the league. With the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo, it looked like the club was all set to reclaim its past glory, ready to lay their hands on the title after a gap of a decade. But troubles have started surfacing at Old Trafford – with weaknesses in the midfield and defensive units spilling onto the attackers. Cristiano Ronaldo’s style of play is at odds with Solskjaer’s traditional method of attacking from the sides, and Ronaldo reportedly brought up his concerns with the Norwegian manager.
Manchester United fell to sixth in the table after they were thrashed 4-2 by Leicester City last week. After making a good start to the season, but have now remained winless for the past three matches while their rivals forge ahead with terrific performances. A 3-2 comeback win against Atalanta on Thursday however, can give them the boost they need to turn around their fortunes once again. After conceding two goals in the first 30 minutes, the Red Devils then rallied to score three goals in the second half – with Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo all contributing to the score.
The win against Atalanta comes at a crucial time for Solskjaer – faced with calls for his sacking, he answered his critics by orchestrating a fightback in front of home fans. His decision to drop Paul Pogba raised many eyebrows but paid off in the end as Scott McTominay and Fred delivered good results from the middle. Despite the win, there are still issues at the back for United to figure out, and Sunday’s fixture will be a litmus test for the club’s fortunes in the season, and Solskjaer’s future.
Barring a 3-3 draw against Brentford earlier this month, Liverpool got the perfect start they wanted to start their title journey. They have managed to fend off threats from both Chelsea and Manchester City, and currently sit at the second spot in the table with 18 points from eight fixtures, with no losses in their book. Compared to United’s form, Jurgen Klopp’s side are coming into the fixture on the back of a 5-0 win against Watford. They also managed to defeat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday – registering a 3-2 win courtesy of Mohamed Salah’s 78th-minute penalty goal.
The main strength for the Reds has been the trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The front three have worked strongly as a unit to enable Liverpool to score a whopping 22 goals this season – six more than any other club. But as with the Red Devils, defence remains the weak point for Liverpool – with the team conceding six goals in eight matches and Virgil van Dijk is yet to rediscover his form at the back. Naby Keita has excelled in the middle, with a goal against Atletico Madrid, but had to be substituted at half-time. One of Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez could replace Virgil van Dijk to counter the threat of Ronaldo.
HEAD TO HEAD
The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is one of England’s most enduring rivalries. The proximity between both cities and a combined 39 league titles between them fuel the rivalry. Manchester United hold the slightest edge with 20 Premier League titles to their name – thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson’s glorious era. But Liverpool are close behind with 19, and in recent years, have been the stronger of the two sides. Both sides have played 176 fixtures between them, with United winning 68 times compared to Liverpool’s 58.
The last five encounters between the clubs have been highly competitive – with the Reds coming out on top on two occasions and United defeating Liverpool 4-2 in the FA Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s side thrashed Manchester United 4-2 the last time they travelled to Old Trafford and would like to repeat the same feat this time around.
WHAT TO EXPECT
While Liverpool are the side with better form and what looks like a more cohesive side, Solskjaer’s men are no small side for them to brush aside. While there are troubles in the Old Trafford dressing room, Solskjaer seems determined to work with the players to solve them one by one. It is still early in the league to reliably predict a frontrunner, and just three points separate the two clubs. United will enter their home stadium once again fully committed to winning the fixture, and they would be eager to learn from Liverpool’s troubles against Chelsea and Manchester City earlier this season.
Weak and wobbly defensive units from both sides combined with some of the best attackers in the world would mean plenty of goal scoring opportunities for both teams. Expect a highly competitive match with goals galore from both sides.
Manchester United Predicted XI: David de Gea, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Wan Bissaka, Scott McTominay, Fred, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino
When: Sunday, 24th October, 9:00 PM IST
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures will be featured on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be telecasted live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select Channels.