Liverpool are in the middle of one of the greatest seasons in Premier League history. Manchester United are five points outside the top four and depleted by injuries.
These two teams aren’t in the same neighbourhood in 2019/20, but Liverpool will still view this weekend’s clash as a significant threat to their push for an unbeaten campaign. Rivalries do strange things to players, they can throw up improbable results.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won 20 of their 21 Premier League matches this season. They are a perfect 11 from 11 at Anfield.
Manchester United have three wins in their 11 away games, putting them way out at 15/2 in the latest Premier League betting to win on Sunday afternoon.
Liverpool are 4/11 to win this weekend and a remarkable 1/25 to win the title for the first time in the Premier League era. The league is theirs to lose, and few will be predicting anything other than a home victory this weekend.
The hosts could welcome back Fabinho, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren to the matchday squad.
Manchester United’s injury situation is much less positive with Marcus Rashford a doubt after an injury in midweek and Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw all still sidelined.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have dovetailed beautifully, Martial starting centrally and Rashford drifting around the pitch from a nominal left-wing berth. The pair have combined for 22 Premier League goals so far this season - that’s over 61% of the team’s goals.
Rashford is a major doubt this weekend – it’s hard to overstate how much of a blow that is to United. With Pogba absent for the foreseeable future too, their attacking options are pretty limited.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may end up starting Daniel James and Juan Mata on the flanks behind Martial.
The prospect of Rashford coming from the left, and matching up with his England teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold, was one area of positivity for Solskjaer’s side.
Against a Liverpool team with six consecutive clean sheets under their belts, United’s attacking threat is reliant on Martial if Rashford isn’t fit. The Frenchman could become isolated.
Manchester United are Evens to fail to score this weekend. It’s worth waiting for more news of Rashford’s fitness before betting, but that could turn out to be a very good price.
Firmino Finding Space
At the other end of the pitch, Roberto Firmino is on a good run of form with five goals in his last seven appearances.
Nemanja Matic is predicted to start alongside Fred in central midfield by WhoScored and will have to keep an eye on the energetic forward.
The Brazilian will drop into space between the midfield and defence and look to create from there. Instead of drawing one of the centre-backs up the pitch, Matic must be aware of Firmino’s movement.
Firmino’s 0.24 expected assists per 90 is one of the best marks among central strikers, behind only Shane Long, Raul Jimenez and Lys Mousset. The former Hoffenheim man is 7/2 to register an assist this weekend.
McTominay would have been on Firmino duty had he been fit – this is a challenge for Matic to prove his worth in this United squad having played just 421 minutes so far this term. The Serbian is a great price to get booked at 9/5.
Quietening Firmino is crucial for United if they are to stage an upset at Anfield. Alexander-Arnold, registering the third highest xA90 in the league, and Andrew Robertson, at 0.25 xA90, are the other two key creative outlets for Klopp’s side.
This is where Rashford would be key to potentially peg Alexander-Arnold back and help out Brandon Williams defensively. James, whichever flank he plays on, will be required to fulfil a similar role.
Whoever starts on the wings, Manchester United are a good defensive team. Only Liverpool have conceded fewer non-penalty expected goals this season.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is an elite defensive full-back and will provide a fascinating duel with Robertson on Sunday.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have performed at a higher standard than they have been given credit for in some quarters. David De Gea has made errors, but he’s still capable of the spectacular, match-defining saves.
United have the personnel to make it very difficult for Liverpool. This is very unlikely to be a thrashing for Solskjaer’s side, though he needs his defensive players to be at their very best if they are going to take an improbable three points from Anfield.
Liverpool The Team To Back?
Liverpool’s defence hasn’t been faultless this season, but with Rashford expected to sit out, United are an uninspiring attacking side.
While Martial has been magnificent at times this season, he cannot do it alone. James’ pace could be problematic for Liverpool, of course, but Mata is not mobile enough to be a threat on the counter-attack.
Liverpool will likely dominate possession and the game could pass Mata by. It would be a big call, but Solskjaer should consider giving Mason Greenwood a start.
The fact that United go into a match at Anfield with only a very marginal hope of victory says a lot about where the club is.
Liverpool are the best team in European football, Manchester United are outsiders to finish in the top four, have a very ordinary manager and are under a permanent cloud of transfer rumours. Our Liverpool and Manchester United combined XI shows the chasm between the two clubs.
Likely without two of their three best attacking players, this fixture has come at a terrible time for United. They face a rested Liverpool team after a midweek duel with Wolves.
It probably won’t be a drubbing, but like their first half against Manchester City in the League Cup, this could see more questions about Solskjaer, the squad, and the direction of the club.
Liverpool are by far the superior team. Despite a mixed recent record against their northwest rivals, they should win this comfortably.
Predicted score: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United (11/2)
Tip: Liverpool to win by 2 or more goals (19/20)
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Jon Super / AP Photo*