Man United vs. Liverpool
Sunday, January 15, 2017 – 4:00pm (GMT)
Referee: Michael Oliver
If we were feeling nervous about this game a couple of weeks ago, recent performances suggest Liverpool could have a really tough day at the office this weekend.
Key players are missing, but legs look tired and certain squad members are failing to pull their weight. Sadio Mane already feels like a huge loss.
It doesn’t get much tougher than a trip to United to follow up some poor form, especially given the run they are on.
Jose Mourinho’s side have won nine games on the bounce in all competitions, and are now showing signs of mounting at least a top-four challenge.
There are currently five points separating Liverpool in second and United in sixth, but defeat for the Reds would make things look far more precarious.
A huge display is needed—they are more than capable of it—as Liverpool look to get a stalling season back on track.
Last season at Old Trafford: Man United 3-1 Liverpool
Liverpool have only managed to win five times at Old Trafford in the Premier League—just once there this decade—with three Danny Murphy winners and a 3-0 victory in 2014 accounting for four of them.
The one that truly stands out came on March 14, 2009, when Rafa Benitez’s Reds took on a formidable United side.
Only three points would keep the visitors in the title race, and they produced arguably their best away performance in the league since 1990.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half penalty made life tough for Liverpool, but they showed great maturity to win in the most satisfying circumstances.
Fernando Torres pounced on Nemanja Vidic’s error to equalise—Torres used to give the Serbian a torrid time—before Patrice Evra’s foul on Steven Gerrard allowed the captain to put his side 2-1 up from the spot.
After the break, Vidic was shown a straight red card for hauling down the goal-bound Gerrard, and from that very free-kick, Fabio Aurelio curled home a superb effort in front of the Stretford End.
Just to rub salt into United’s wounds, Andrea Dossena lobbed Edwin van der Sar in the dying seconds, completing a 4-1 win that we will never forget.
Away fans’ pub: Hotel Football
Neither Henderson or Matip played at all at Southampton in midweek, but Coutinho looked sharp on his return, despite a few wayward shots. The importance of the Brazilian cannot be understated.
Roberto Firmino has been a shadow of his former self in the last month or so, but Klopp is expected to stick with the 25-year-old, despite him looking weary.
Playing him centrally would be a wise decision, with Adam Lallana dropping back into the midfield role where he has shone in 2016/17.
Mourinho is likely to have his first-choice starting lineup available for Sunday’s game, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all key to his team’s chances.
Marcos Rojo is a minor doubt with a muscular injury, with Ibrahimovic recovering from the illness that ruled him out of Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Hull City, in the other League Cup semi-final first-leg tie.
Wayne Rooney hasn’t been a regular this season, but he may well start against Liverpool, as he looks to break Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Man United – Last five results (all competitions)
Klopp was coy about whether or not his key players would start, following injury:
“They were all in training yesterday.
“I’ll wait to see how they reacted to training, then we have to make decisions.
“The last game was only two days ago, so we have to wait for the reaction of these players too.
“Of course, they are much closer than before any other game in the last few weeks, so that’s good.”
UK TV Info
We will be running our matchday live blog from 3:15pm, with Ben Twelves in the hotseat this weekend. He will be providing you with minute-by-minute updates during the game, and plenty of interesting content before it.