Updated: Jan 16
Date: Sunday January 17th, 2021
Kick Off: 16:30 GMT
Referee: Paul Tierney
Manchester United: 11/4
This weekend, Anfield entertains one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures of the Premier League calendar as heavyweights Liverpool and Manchester United lock horns. In a rivalry synonymous with hatred and a mutual voracity for success, Sunday’s matchup is set to be another memorable chapter in this historic North-West derby as the sides fittingly occupy the top two spots.
Cast your minds back a year – Liverpool had widened the gulf between themselves and the chasing pack with a comfortable 2-0 win over their fierce rivals, who themselves sat a whopping twenty-eight points behind the eventual champions. Three lockdowns, two summer scandals and an inspired Portuguese signing later, the Red Devils now sit on top of the pile, boasting this season’s best away form in the process.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jürgen Klopp will battle for top spot in Sunday’s Blockbuster fixture. Source: Goal.com
Hoping to burst their bubble is a side unbeaten at home in the Premier League since April 2017 – now only nineteen games off Chelsea’s seemingly unsurpassable record of 86 consecutive home matches undefeated.
An away victory would send shockwaves around the Premier League – a statement of intent that United’s stint at the top may not be a mere cameo like Chelsea and Tottenham’s in past weeks. However, a 68th successive home game without defeat would clear a massive hurdle for this depleted Reds side in their attempt to match an accomplishment achieved only by their two Mancunian rivals and Jose Mourinho’s record breaking Chelsea side: to win two league titles on the bounce.
Manchester United: W,D,W,W,W
Team News: Liverpool
Joel Matip and Naby Keita are both doubts for Sunday after the pair missed training on Wednesday. Time may be running out for the injury-plagued duo’s Anfield careers as their frequent absences are beginning to frustrate the Liverpool camp. Without the Cameroonian, Klopp may have to settle for captain Jordan Henderson as a makeshift centre back or one of the youngsters to pair Fabinho in the heart of their defence.
The Reds are still without defensive duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who may be absent for the remainder of this season. Summer signing Diogo Jota is expected to return by early February in time for Liverpool’s crunch clash with Manchester City.
Look out for: Thiago – The serial winner looks set to make his Anfield debut on Sunday. Injury has limited the Spaniard to mere glimpses of his brilliance, reminiscent of his glittering years in Bavaria. His effortless ability to dictate a match’s tempo and flip a game on its head could prove difficult for United to contain.
Thiago is set to make his Anfield debut on Sunday following his transfer from Bayern Munich last summer. Source: sportingnews.com
Team News: United
Anthony Martial and Nemanja Matic look doubtful to start on Sunday after the pair picked up knocks at Burnley earlier on in the week. Daniel James or Mason Greenwood could likely replace the Frenchman, leaving Marcus Rashford as sole striker.
Victor Lindelöf may also be out of action after picking up a back injury in United’s Boxing Day draw at Leicester. Following a handful of stalwart performances, Eric Bailly once again looks set to start at the back.
After completing his transfer to the Red Devils last week, Amad Diallo is not yet available for selection due to COVID travel restrictions.
Look out for: Paul Pogba – Despite his inconsistency, you cannot deny Pogba’s sheer footballing brilliance and on his day, he is undoubtedly one of the most well-rounded and talented midfielders in the world. The question is, which Pogba turns up on Sunday? On the back of a few impressive performances, including scoring the winning goal at Burnley on Tuesday, the stage is set for Pogba to deliver the coup de grâce on an off-colour Liverpool’s impressive home record.
Pogba scores the only goal of the game against Burnley. Source: caughtoffside.com
Liverpool: Alisson; Robertson, R. Williams, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Thiago; Mane, Firmino, Salah
Manchester United: De-Gea; Shaw, Bailly, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; Pogba, Fred, McTominay, Fernandes, James; Rashford
Van Dijk celebrates Liverpool’s first goal in the sides’ last encounter – the last time Manchester United lost an away match in the Premier League. Source: sportingferret.com
Sunday’s significance on both sides’ title challenge makes this the biggest North-West derby in over a decade. How lasting is Liverpool’s poor run of form? Are Manchester United fully prepared for their first serious title charge in the post Sir Alex era? Home and away records are on the line as an unstoppable force meets an immovable object in a clash that will surely spark fireworks. Solskjaer will likely adopt a deep lying shape, relying on James and Rashford’s blistering pace on the break, akin to West Brom and Newcastle’s style in recent weeks. However, when Liverpool’s front three are in form, very few sides in the world can thwart their relentless onslaughts. Ultimately, if the champions rediscover their typically deadly end product, they will be too hot to handle for United, who have not tasted victory at Anfield in five years.
Will Morley: Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United
BRPGsports: Liverpool 2-3 Manchester United
Written by: Will Morley