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Reds’ must-win table-topping clash – Liverpool vs. Man United Preview

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It’s a top-of-the-table clash for Liverpool as rivals Man United descend on Anfield, in what is a must-win for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

Liverpool vs. Man United

Sunday, January 17, 2021 – 4.30pm (GMT)
Anfield
Premier League (18)
Referee: Paul Tierney


It’s a meeting between the Premier League‘s best home side and its best team on the road, an affair with implications beyond just the 90-minute encounter.

With Liverpool having dropped seven points in their last three top-flight matches, they left the door ajar for those around them to capitalise and they were duly punished.

And with Man United having moved three points ahead of Klopp’s side at the top of the table, now is the time to strike back and leapfrog Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

Fortress Anfield will provide a welcome backdrop to the clash in what is a vital game for the Reds to rediscover their ruthless edge, with goals having been in short supply of late.

There is now little room for error in what is an unpredictable season, and the Reds could set the course for a busy and testing month ahead on the right note with a win – which would do the confidence of players and fans alike the world of good.

The champions are named as such for a reason and now is the time to flex that title.

Let’s get into these, Reds.

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 27, 2020: Liverpool's Joel Matip goes off with an injury, replaced by substitute Rhys Williams, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s all about the centre-back situation once more for Liverpool, with all eyes on the fitness of Joel Matip.

He has been absent since the draw against West Brom with an adductor issue and but rejoined team training on Friday, with Klopp saying “it’s not decided yet” at his pre-match press conference.

If Matip isn’t deemed fit to start, though, it leaves the likes of Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips in contention to feature in the XI, while Jordan Henderson could yet reprise his role with United’s pace in mind.

Naby Keita, who has missed the last four games, is not in contention having also missed training in the leadup, with Klopp stressing the need to “put on the brakes” and focus on his long-term fitness.

Aside from Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Diogo Jota, Liverpool will have a number of options at their disposal at Anfield, including Thiago.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Spaniard added another valuable 45 minutes to his tally against Aston Villa last time out and is set to start in midfield, where the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Xherdan Shaqiri and James Milner all vie for a spot.

While down on form, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are all fit and available.

United, meanwhile, have seen both Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic cast into doubt following their win at Burnley, while a late decision is expected on Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

Possible United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, McTominay; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani

 

Last 5 at Home to Man United (All Competitions)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Won 2-0 – January 2020 (Van Dijk, Salah)
Won 3-1 – December 2018 (Mane, Shaqiri x2; Lingard)
Drew 0-0 – October 2017
Drew 0-0 – October 2016
Won 2-0 – March 2016 (Sturridge pen, Firmino)

 

Did You Know?

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrates the first goal in front of the Manchester Utd fans during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: 19th January 2020. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples/Sportimage via PA Images

A victory in this match would result in the third successive win at Anfield against United, a run which was last replicated in 2011.

The feat has so far been achieved just six times in over 127 years, the longest of which came during the 1970s when both Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley orchestrated seven in a row between them.

With a 67-game unbeaten run on home soil and no doubt with a point to prove, now would be the most opportune time for Klopp’s side to add their name to this list.

 

Form

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the first goal with team-mates during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 4-1 vs. Aston Villa
Lost 1-0 vs. Southampton
Drew 0-0 vs. Newcastle
Drew 1-1 vs. West Brom
Won 7-0 vs. Crystal Palace

Man United – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 1-0 vs. Burnley
Won 1-0 vs. Watford
Lost 2-0 vs. Man City
Won 2-1 vs. Aston Villa
Won 1-0 vs. Wolves

 

Klopp’s View

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp noted the impact of Bruno Fernandes at United, having experience him firsthand during the pre-season tour of 2019:

“He’s an outstanding player. Before he joined United, we played against Sporting in the USA on the tour and in that game already you could see, ‘wow!’.

“Obviously everybody knew him but in that game it was the first time my team played against a team he was involved. You could really see he was a difference-maker and that’s what he shows now.

“He is settled, he is a very influential player for United obviously, involved in a lot of things. I know people talk mostly about the goal involvements, which is very important stuff, but he is a linkup in a lot of other situations as well.

“I don’t know him well enough to really judge that but he seems to be a leader as well. So, yeah, a good signing, unfortunately, for United.”

 

TV & Liveblog Info

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 14, 2019: A silhouette of television cameras during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vs. Man United kicks off at 4.30pm (GMT) and will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage from 4pm.

Ben Twelves has you covered on This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, keeping you entertained and up to date on all the action from 3.45pm.


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