Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jurgen Klopp, Mo Salah

MATCH PREVIEW: MANCHESTER UNITED VS LIVERPOOL, HISTORIC RIVALRY SET TO GET LATEST CHAPTER IN BATTLE FOR THE LEAGUE SUMMIT

Manchester United and Liverpool renew their age-old rivalry on Sunday, with both teams chasing the summit.

 

The Red Devils were outclassed in all departments against Leicester City last weekend, losing 4-2 to see unbeaten away run come to an end. The midweek fixture against Atalanta started off in the same dismal manner, trailing 2-0 at halftime but three goals after the break were enough to pick up a crucial three points.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have often been chastised for their porous defending and inability to stem opponents’ threats early on. The return of Marcus Rashford in goalscoring form is a welcome boon, though the absence of Raphael Varane will be a big blow. United really need to provide a good showing if the pressure on their manager is to decrease going forward.

 

On the other side, Jurgen Klopp’s machine of a team has been eating away the opposition for a while now. Liverpool blew away Watford 5-0 last weekend before picking up a “dirty three points” against Atletico Madrid in Spain. Their remarkable consistency in team selection and increasing form of their top players.

 

Mo Salah has scored in a record-breaking nine consecutive matches for the Reds while Roberto Firmino netted a hat-trick last time out. Sadio Mane has surpassed 100 Premier League goals and Alisson’s supreme saves against Atletico is sure to give his confidence an almighty boost. Liverpool are the only undefeated side remaining in the league and would dearly love to stretch their record at a hostile ground, no less.

 

TEAM NEWS

With Rashford now back and the duo of Fred-McTominay performing admirably against the Italians, it gives Solskjaer quite a headache as to whom to leave out.

 

PROBABLE LINE-UP: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood; Ronaldo

Klopp has not made any sizeable changes of note to his lineup so far but Naby Keita’s lack of physicality might mean Fabinho getting the nod in midfield.

 

PROBABLE LINE-UP: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah

 

GAMECHANGERS

United had Ronaldo to thank for yet another game winner in the Champions League, and the Portuguese remains their greatest attacking asset. The 36-year-old has scored six goals in all competitions but it is his overall play in the final third that is so dangerous. Ronaldo’s close control skills allows him to get away shots at a much quicker speed than expected while his unerring accuracy from inside the penalty box is lethal most times.

 

Van Dijk has shown a bit of slowness in closing down attackers in recent times, as evidenced by Antoine Griezmann for his second goal. Even against Brentford, the Reds’ defence was all over the place, especially with their fullbacks pushing high up the pitch.

 

United’s attackers will look to utilise that space in order to deliver balls into the box where Ronaldo is an absolute phenom in the air. One of Milner or Fabinho will have to drop back all the time if they are to stem the tide but the home side’s best chance to win remains getting the ball to Ronaldo in good positions.

For Liverpool, it is hard to look past Salah as their go-to man nowadays. The history making Egyptian has been firing on a different level since the start of this season. It has not only been about the frequency of his goals but the sheer genius behind some of them.

 

Manchester City and Watford were left completely bamboozled by his trickery and sublime mastery of the football as they were left hapless. Against Atletico, Salah cut inside three defenders one after the other before shooting which led to the opening goal. He will be up against Shaw who was caught out against Atalanta for their opener, before meeting Harry Maguire whose form has been sketchy at best.

 

It is given that if Salah makes his way inside the penalty box, the chances of scoring increase manifold. Furthermore, his sharp eye for passing means that he can assist goals from the deep too which will worry the entire backline.

 

PREDICTIONS

United have not kept a clean sheet at home in their past 12 games while the two teams have scored a combined 38 goals in the league already. This match is sure to be a goalfest as one would expect but the winner is tougher to gauge after recent showings. FootTheBall predicts a 3-1 win for Liverpool.

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