Liverpool and Manchester United are set for a crunch top-of-the-table clash when both Premier League rivals lock horns at Anfield on Sunday, 17 January 2021.
Following a hard-fought narrow victory over Sean Dyche’s Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday, The Red Devils have overtaken Liverpool’s pole position but things can quickly change should the Merseyside Reds manage to get back on track after some disappointing results over the festive period.
All in all, Manchester United have won just one of their last 10 matches against Liverpool across all competitions, against three wins in the Merseysiders’ favor, while the draw (6) is the most common outcome over the period.
Liverpool Betting Preview
Liverpool’s remarkable home form is obviously quite impressive – they have not lost a Premier League game at Anfield since April 2017 – and United would absolutely love to become the ones who’ll spoil their rivals’ unbeaten run.
However, the Reds won’t be willing to give them a chance and the Champions will be keen to claim their third consecutive home win over their Manchester rivals for the first time since March 2011.
Since he promised to turn everyone at the club from doubters to believers in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp kept his promise and will now take charge of his 200th Premier League game. And the German is the 10th Liverpool manager to reach 200 top-flight matches for the 19-time Champions of England, winning 127 of his 199 games so far – more than any of his predecessors.
All in all, only Jose Mourinho (137) has won more over the same period and Klopp will hope to extend his side’s unbeaten run at Anfield, preferably winning another one, yet he has to once again forge it without a natural defender, assuming that Matip is not fit to start.
Meanwhile, during his pre-match press conference on Friday, Jurgen Klopp confirmed that experienced centre-back Joel Matip is set to resume full training and his fitness will be assessed, while his side will definitely be without the services of Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, who “is not ready for involvement”.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas and Diogo Jota are also sidelined for the home side, but there are some good news – summer signing Thiago Alcantara will finally make his home debut for the Reds after making each of his first five appearances for the Merseyside outfit away from Anfield.
Should Klopp remains reluctant to risk Joel Matip’s health (and we have many reasons to believe that Liverpool’s boss won’t be willing to rush him, particularly given the extremely loaded schedule in the coming weeks), skipper Jordan Henderson could once again start alongside Fabinho at centre-back, as Klopp will need an experienced baller for a game of such intensity, while either of Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips could be given a chance against Burnley only a few days later.
Sadio Mane should start on the left-hand side of the attack, with no big selection surprises expected from Jurgen Klopp (he would love to have Diogo Jota available right now), with Bobby Firmino and Mohamed Salah filling the line that is somehow yet to record a remarkable performance against Manchester United.
Manchester United Betting Preview
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were dominating a game in which the Clarets failed to register a single shot on target until stoppage time, yet they were struggling to make a breakthrough until Marcus Rashford found Paul Pogba out with an excellent cross to the edge of the area and the Frenchman’s volley took a deflection to make Nick Pope helpless, which was enough to give Manchester United a precious victory at Burnley and send them three points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Since the final day of their 2012-13 title-winning campaign and the last chapter of the glorious Sir Alex Ferguson era, this is the first time Manchester United have ended the day top of the Premier League table, having played as many as 17 games.
The last time United were table-toppers in January they had the legendary duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the back, with Robin Van Persie scoring goal after goal and David de Gea making a name for himself in his second season at the club…
Furthermore, the Red Devils have finally kept their first away clean sheet of the season in the Premier League, conceding 11 goals in their previous seven away games, yet remaining unbeaten in all of them and winning all but one.
Now many are consequently questioning whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of their famous predecessors and could they bring the title back to the Theatre of Dreams?
Edinson Cavani returned following a controversial three-match suspension and even though the experienced Uruguayan forward wasted some great scoring chances against Burnley, considering Anthony Martial’s ability to waste more, we won’t be surprised if Cavani leads the line at Anfield, though Solskjaer could opt for Martial’s pace that could be needed to open space for United’s counter-attacking approach.
Marcus Rashford himself has been directly involved in 11 goals during his past 14 Premier League appearances (six goals, five assists) and the Manchester United forward should once again play a key role at Anfield.
Manchester United’s talismanic playmaker Bruno Fernandes has just been named Premier League’s best player for December and it’s the fourth time the Portuguese ace has won the accolade since he arrived at Old trafford twelve months ago. As for comparison, Fernandes’ fellow compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo himself had won the award four times during his memorable spell in England.
Fernandes contributed three assists and added three goals himself in the Red Devils’ League games last month, once again inspiring their resurrection after the Champions League setback and helping them climb the Premier League table.
Overall, Bruno Fernandes could already boast an impressive 15 goals and nine assists across all competitions over the course of what is more and more turning out to be a highly productive campaign for him as well as for the glorious English club.
Besides, he also became the first player to collect the regular monthly accolade in back-to-back months since Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in March 2018.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could inspire ideas how to block Liverpool’s sharpness by some of his Premier League counterparts, who have already neutralized the efficiency of their attacking trident earlier in the campaign and he has the performers to do so, particularly when Aaron Wan-Bissaka is more effective in defending and Eric Bailly hints to be unleashing his full potential.
We can clearly say that Eric Bailly’s presence in the back line has been crucial for United’s run of form as the Ivorian defender provides more stability and is literally willing to sacrifice his own body for the game, which is probably one of the reasons why his spell (so far) has been so injury-prone.
Swedish defender Victor Lindelof is a doubt for the Red Devils, but considering Bailly’s form, it’s safe to assume that the Swede possibly lost his first-team status whether he’s fit or not.
Experienced Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic and France forward Anthony Martial both appeared to sustain knocks late on against Burnley and are also doubts, while Brandon Williams is ruled out through injury.
Possible Starting Lineups of Liverpool and Manchester United
Liverpool: Alisson – Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara, Georginio Wijnaldum – Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah. (4-3-3)
Manchester United: David de Gea – Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay – Bruno Fernandes – Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial. (4-3-1-2)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have got their mojo back and have hit momentum right on time – which could pose a number of problems for Liverpool’s defense, because of the pace they have up front, and of course the passing ability and vision of Bruno Fernandes.
With that said, Manchester United could find themselves in their most comfortable role – being an “underdog” – when they don’t necessarily need to control possession and can actually be lethal with their counter-attacking ability.
Considering Liverpool’s defensive crisis, it won’t be surprising if United aim to break through the centre – a move that would easily disarrange Liverpool’s unstacked defensive line and could cause a real mess into their formation.
On the other hand, the Merseyside Reds are going through an indifferent spell, but this doesn’t mean they have suddenly become a bad side. They will have their scoring chances, too, and they just need to materialize them to make a difference, but let’s not forget that United probably have the most reliable goalkeeper in the League, so they need to be extremely clinical in front of goal.
People often forget that this Liverpool side has been doing well in big games under Jurgen Klopp and you would more likely expect them to either win or draw against another contender, while they can drop points against a side managed by Sam Allardyce.
United still fail to deliver in crucial games and we won’t exaggerate if we describe this one as crucial, given the importance of this rivalry and the possible turning point for either side.
Indeed, imagine the consequences for either side should they lose – Liverpool have lost their “unbeatable reputation” but they can still get back on track with a favorable result (they rather need a result, not a performance), while United clearly realize they have nothing to lose this season.
Ole said he wants to win silverware and to restore the winning mentality at Old Trafford, but no one would judge him and the squad if they don’t win exactly the Premier League title this time, while they maintain their progressive form and hint that they could become genuine title contenders in the coming months.
We believe that both managers won’t want to lose the game and this automatically makes the draw a really possible outcome, yet we also believe that United’s current shape and Liverpool’s defensive concerns are a valid argument to expect the Red Devils not to lose at Anfield on Sunday. It seems like they have the right performers to expose Liverpool’s vulnerability at the moment.