Tricks, the two attacks & tumbling records – 5 key questions ahead of Liverpool vs. Man United

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One of the most highly anticipated fixtures is upon us with Liverpool hosting Man United at Anfield, but which attack will come out on top and will more records fall?

A match quickly turned to at the release of every fixture list now awaits, with the two sides experiencing polarising fortunes as United arrive at Anfield 27 points adrift of the league leaders.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have stormed ahead at the Premier League summit having stretched their unbeaten run in the top flight to 38 games, and United will no doubt be out to add another blemish on our record.

Another three points for Liverpool would further showcase the chasm between the two teams while maintaining their 14 point lead ahead of Man City.

It’s a fixture which has thrown a number of curveballs the Reds’ way in recent times and there are a number of key questions to consider with the fixture looming large.

 

Is Solskjaer up to his usual tricks?

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 28, 2019: Manchester United's Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Manchester United FC at Turf Moor. Manchester United won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’ve seen it all before with this one, last time out it was over the fitness of David De Gea and this time around it is Marcus Rashford.

Prior to the two teams meeting in October, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had offered the verdict that “I think he’ll be out” and that he “didn’t expect” his No. 1 ‘keeper to be fit for the clash having picked up an injury days prior on international duty.

We all know how that ended as De Gea did in fact start, and now we have a similar story unfolding surrounding Rashford.

The England international sustained a back injury, which has been something he has been forced to manage, in their win over Wolves in midweek.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 28, 2019: Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær before the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Manchester United FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ahead of the Anfield meeting, Solskjaer said: “I’m not going to hold my breath. I would probably think he wouldn’t be ready but let’s see.”

It would a blow for United as Rashford has scored 39 percent of their Premier League goals to date, having netted 14 times so far this season.

Anthony Martial would then lead the line, with a combination of Juan Mata, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood or Jesse Lingard occupying the positions around him.

It would not come as a surprise if this is another attempt at mind games, but there’s no doubt Liverpool will be prepared for any and all potential outcomes.

 

Will the returning Reds provide yet another boost?

With confidence surging and momentum at an all-time high, Liverpool are already in prime position to continue to assert their dominance.

But a number of returning faces could yet add another dimension and a much-needed boost to options, and propel them to greater heights.

The fact that Klopp’s side were able to emerge from their relentless festive schedule without a hitch, be crowned world champions and maintain their incredibly impressive lead in the league amid an injury-plagued run speaks volumes of this Liverpool side.

And now that they are to be bolstered by the return of Fabinho and Joel Matip in time for Sunday, with Dejan Lovren, Naby Keita and James Milner not far away, there is no doubt another gear for this side to find.

They’ll each need time to adjust back into first-team action with a place on the bench the first port of call, but their presence alone bolsters what is an already impressively strong outfit and alarmingly for the opposition, it only adds more strings to their bow.

 

Fortress Anfield to stand tall once again and claim another victim?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2019: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop with a banner "We are the Champions, Champions of Europe" during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool FC and FC Salzburg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are few feelings better than watching United leave Anfield with nothing to show for it, with the crowd consistently at their backs and urging the Reds to pile on the misery.

It will be no different this time around as the Anfield cauldron awaits, a ground which has not seen the Reds succumb to defeat in the league in 51 games.

Liverpool hosted two drab goalless draws in 2016 and 2017, with Jose Mourinho intent on sucking the life out of the fixture before they burst into life last time out with a 3-1 win, with Xherdan Shaqiri stealing the show from the substitutes bench.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s cliche but form can go out of the window in these type of affairs, however, Liverpool have the aura of invincibility, the swagger and an all-conquering feeling which instils fear into the opposition well before they enter the field of play.

This Is Anfield, of course, and as Bill Shankly said, in relation to the sign: “It’s there to remind our lads who they’re playing for and to remind the opposition who they’re playing against!”

And it will take nothing short of a perfect performance and an almighty effort from the opposition to end the streak.

 

Which attack will come out on top?

If you’ve been following the build-up to the clash you’ll know all about the ‘stat’ plastered across various platforms which shows the Man United trio of Rashford (19), Martial (11) and Greenwood (9) have scored more across all competitions than Liverpool’s front three.

Sadio Mane (15), Mohamed Salah (14) and Roberto Firmino (9) have combined for 38 goals so far this season, while United’s trio have netted a total of 39.

You can’t deny that United have a forward line with plenty of talent and ability but that ‘stat’ does not in any way suggest they are either superior or in better form.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 12, 2019: Manchester United's Anthony Martial during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Manchester United FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The simple fact of the matter is that Liverpool are where they are because they are more than the sum of their parts, a collective unit which does not rely on a handful of players to get them over the line on a weekly basis.

The Reds have had 16 different goal scorers in the league to date and a total of 19 across all competitions, while United have had just eight in the top flight.

A lead of 27 points tells the story pretty clearly, but Liverpool’s attack no longer just comprises of Mane, Salah and Firmino and that’s why they are where they are.

 

Can the records continue to tumble?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 11, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The best-ever start to a season, the club’s longest-ever unbeaten run, the most points across 38 league games, the first English team to win the international treble – they’re just some of the records Liverpool have broken this season.

And there’s plenty more where they came from should the Reds continue their barnstorming start to the season.

After the clash with United, Liverpool have just two meetings left with current members of the top six – Chelsea (H) and Man City (A) – and it is the perfect opportunity to inflict further turmoil on the latter as the Reds continue to distance themselves from the reigning titleholders.

A win here would see Klopp’s men move to just one victory away from equalling the record of the most consecutive home wins, set by Man City from 2011 to 12, while no team has ever notched 19 home league wins in a single season – with Chelsea (2005/06), Man United (2010/11) and Man City (2011/12 and 2018/19) all reaching 18.

It is indicative of the side Klopp has put together that all of those feel like realistic targets, this team has proved time and time again that they are not to be underestimated.

The Premier League table says it all and it is the only thing that will matter come May, but it’s always nice to see records fall in the meantime.

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