Liverpool – who haven’t got off to the best start – will aim to get their Premier League campaign properly up and running when they pay a visit to a Man United team in crisis on Monday evening. Ryan Liberty previews.
Manchester United vs Liverpool | Monday 22 August | Old Trafford | 21:00
To Win Match
Manchester United 44/10 | Draw 36/10 | Liverpool 11/20
United were deservedly beaten by Brentford last weekend (and Brighton before that). Liverpool isn’t exactly the sort of opposition United need to meet now, but they can only play what is in front of them.
To Say ten Hag to faultless in all of this would be amiss. The £48.5 million signings was greenlighted by the United board on the back of the Dutch manager’s recommendation. Even Ajax were surprised by the bid and felt it would be “irresponsible” to not accept such a massive windfall for a 1.75m-tall centreback.
It’s an outrageous bit of business that wouldn’t have happened had ten Hag not arrived. Obviously, there are other recruitment issues at the club, but to absolve ten Hag would be amiss. Anyway…
United were torn apart by Brentford last weekend. The manner in which the goals were conceded will be of great concern. Two goalkeeping errors, a set-piece and a blistering counter-attack – all within the first 25 minutes – effectively ended the contest.
This points to a system that is just totally broken. Brentford managed 13 shots – seven of which were on target – from their 33% possession. United never really looked a threat, despite registering 15 shots in the game.
More damning, perhaps, is the face that Brentford collectively ran 13km more than their opposition. Ten Hag’s response? Straight out of the 80’s PE teacher handbook – cancel a day off and call a training session to make each player run 13km. Wild stuff.
United showed they were unable to build play through their phases and move into the Brentford half with any sort of poise. And yet, they were simultaneously unable to match the pace of Brentford’s play. They were slow in possession, poor without it and failed to unsettle the Londoners.
Manchester United have failed to win a football match on the road for seven straight games. It is the worst since 1936! I really feel for the fans, the atmosphere at Old Trafford on Monday night will be relatively toxic and demonstrative, with protests once again planned against the ownership of the club.
Liverpool, as we know, will want to launch their attack early on and then absolutely go for the kill. Should United concede early, I just don’t think the players have it in them to respond.
Liverpool weren’t great against Fulham and followed up that performance with another slip-up at home to Palace on Monday night. Jurgen Klopp would have certainly wanted a reaction from his players – who now sit four points adrift of City having drawn both of their opening games for the first time under the tutlage of their German boss.
You could criticize the Reds’ lack of intensity, physicality and pressing against Fulham, but against Palace I didn’t think they were bad. The Eagles absolutely got their tactics right and played the perfect game for the situation. They frustrated Liverpool, stopped the game flowing at 120KPH and when their chance(s) came, they took at least one of them.
Luis Diaz was required to rescue a point for the Reds at Palace after summer signing Darwin Nunez saw red in his first home game. For me, the interesting thing about the game on Monday evening was how Liverpool completely dominated possession of the football and still failed to put their visitors to the sword.
The reality though is the resilience shown by Patrick Vieira’s side isn’t something one should go into this fixture expecting to see. United players have been the furtherest thing away from competitive when things go against them and I’m inclined to expect much of the same here.
Prediction: Liverpool (11/20)
To be fair, 11/20 about the away win is too attractive to miss out on. Liverpool are lightyears ahead of Manchester United in every area at the moment. You can be sure they will come into the encounter looking to make a statement and if they get off to a fast start as they did in both league ties last season, they are more than capable of blowing this United outfit away.