Our writer previews the mouth-watering EPL clash between fierce rivals Man United and Liverpool.
Manchester United and Liverpool lock horns this weekend as the oldest rivalry in British football continues. Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp will be meeting for the seventh time in their managerial career, with the German holding a superior record to the Red Devils boss.
Klopp has won three, while Mourinho has won just once, with the managers sharing the spoils on two occasions, including earlier this season in a goalless draw. With both teams still in the title race, maximum points will be the aim for both clubs. Just five points separate these two sides in the standings, with Mourinho’s men trailing Liverpool by five points.
English Premier League | Sunday 15 January | Old Trafford | 18:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester United 11/10 | Draw 47/20 | Liverpool 49/20
After Chelsea suffered their first defeat in 14 games, Manchester United are now on the longest winning streak in the Premier League, claiming six wins on the trot. After a rough patch from Jose Mourinho’s side, this is certainly the best that the Red Devils have looked since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Man United still find themselves 10 points adrift of leaders, Chelsea, but just three points behind 4th-placed local rivals, Manchester City. Although their goal difference is not as great as the teams above them, United are not so far behind in terms of points.
The Red Devils are finally beginning to look like their usual conquering selves. Under Mourinho, the Premier League’s most successful club has arguably the best manager in world football – who also happens to have great experience as a manager in the world’s toughest league.
United’s two key men, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, were both rested last weekend in their 4-0 victory over Reading in the FA Cup. Marcus Rashford netted his first brace since making his debut against Arsenal back in February 2016, while Wayne Rooney became the club’s leading all-time goalscorer with 249 goals – level with Sir Bobby Charlton.
United have midweek action to worry about before this clash when they host Hull City in the semi-final of the EFL Cup on Tuesday. Liverpool play in the Wednesday fixture, meaning that these two sides could meet again in the final.
United played a defensive set-up the first time these sides met, but with Zlatan finally finding his goalscoring boots this season, the Red Devils could hurt the Liverpool defence. Pogba is another player who has come to life in recent weeks. The Frenchman offers the United midfield a great threat going forward, with his long distance shots, trickery and magical passes.
Ibrahimovic has scored 13 league goals this season, while Pogba is United’s second top scorer with four. The duo are also first and second in terms of shots taken; Ibrahimovic on 86 with Pogba not far behind on 66. The duo, along with a few other stars, have helped Old Trafford to become fearsome again!
It’s fair to say that Liverpool have had the least bit of luck in recent months. Just as Philippe Coutinho – their best player – returns from injury, Sadio Mane – their best signing – leaves the Merseyside club to represent Senegal at the African Cup of Nations.
When together on the pitch, Coutinho and Mane have formed a deadly trio along with Roberto Firmino. Now what was once the most prolific attack in England, must be broken again as Adam Lallana looks to fill the void left by Mane.
Despite drawing their last Premier League game to Sunderland, the Reds are still unbeaten in six league outings. Their last defeat came in a shock 4-3 loss to Bournemouth, in a game that they completely lost control of in the second half.
Domestically, Manchester United have not been the best team for Liverpool to face. The Reds have not won in five Premier League matchups against the Red Devils, losing four times, with their goalless draw earlier this season being the only point that Liverpool picked up over them in that run.
Jurgen Klopp has bettered Jose Mourinho when it comes to head-to-head statistics, but this will definitely be his most challenging task. Without Mane, Liverpool will need to prove to everyone that they’re capable of picking up crucial points in his absence.
However, Liverpool still have a plethora of attacking talent at their disposal. We all know of the quality that Coutinho, Firmino and Lallana offer, but club captain, Jordan Henderson, offers something much different to the team, spraying passes from deep. Henderson will be looking to captain his side to a much-needed victory over Manchester United.
Verdict: Manchester United (11/10)
With Man United riding a six-match winning streak, I can’t see Liverpool picking up any points at Old Trafford. Ibrahimovic has been in scintillating form, banging in goals left, right and centre. United have won four of the last five games against Liverpool, and are tipped to make it five from six. At 11/10, it’s certainly worth a punt!
Written by Jesse Nagel for @Hollywoodbets