It’s a huge meeting between the two sides at Old Trafford
Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday in arguably the most prominent meeting between these two sides for some years.
With a title race and top four place on their agendas, there is plenty of incentive for both sides heading into the game.
United have been revitalised under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Before his arrival, a top-four place looked impossible. Now, it seems extremely possible.
It has been an impressive start from the Norwegian and one he will be keen to continue with a win over old enemies Liverpool in this meeting.
Liverpool’s ambitions sit higher. Having been happy with a top-four finish for several years, this season they’ve taken it up a level. Currently, level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table the title battle looks like going to the wire.
January was not kind, though. Several disappointing performances allowed Pep Guardiola’s side back into the race and provided momentum to the champions.
With City not playing, though, a win at Old Trafford would give both back to Liverpool at a crucial late stage in the campaign.
Manchester United were handed a big boost before this game with both Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard in contention to feature.
Both were expected to be out until March but have made swift recoveries and could now feature in this game. Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo are still out injured.
Liverpool will be without defensive duo Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez but will be boosted by Trent Alexander-Arnold being fit at right back.
Virgil Van Dijk will start having missed the midweek draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League while Fabinho should return to midfield having deputised in the centre of defence in the Dutchman’s absence.
What the managers said
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged his team to focus on the game, rather than getting caught in the emotions of the fixture.
“I’ve played in a few of these myself, and I know the magnitude of it for the fans. For everyone who works here the staff,” he said.
“There have been many comments about, ‘this is the big one’ and ‘we’re looking forward to this one’.
Then it’s our job to be focusing and channelling all that energy into performance mode. It’s not about emotions.
“I understand that emotion can be brought into it, but we have to stay focused and controlled but with some fight in us as well.”
Klopp, meanwhile, insisted that this game would not be a determining factor in where the Premier League title ends up.
“It will never be decided 12 matchdays before the end. They will all be tough,” he said.
“Now it is a really big one, I know that I respect that. We are involved in that as well. You think it is only a big game for Manchester United?
If you go in our dressing room, they are all long enough here and if you are not long enough here the other guys will tell you.
Everybody knows that Manchester United against Liverpool is one of the biggest games in world football. We have to prepare for that and still play a game.”
Manchester United haven’t lost a home league game to Liverpool since a 3-0 defeat in March 2014.
Victory for Liverpool would ensure a league double over United for the first time since 2013/14. They were competing for the title that year also.
This one promises goals. United have just one clean sheet at home this season while Liverpool have scored in all their away games.
Liverpool’s win percentage at Old Trafford in the Premier League is 19.2%. Of the current top six sides, they only have a lower rate away to Manchester City.
Conversely, Manchester United have won 61.5% of their home games against Liverpool in the Premier League. They’ve only got a lower percentage against Manchester City and Chelsea.