It is time for the biggest game in English football… well, at least on paper, as Manchester United host Liverpool on Sunday night.
Two greatest clubs in England, Manchester United and Liverpool square off at Old Trafford in the ninth Premier League round this weekend.
The derby us totally out of United’s hands, however, as they are currently playing their worst ever season in the Premier League era. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has won only two of the opening eight games and sit outside of top 10 with only nine points on their account.
League leaders, Liverpool, on the other hand, have won all of their eight games in top-flight English football this season.
It is still October, but Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are already seven points above second-placed Manchester City and have an incredible 15-point lead ahead of Manchester United.
It has already been reported that United’s top two stars Paul Pogba and David de Gea are out of the derby, although the latest reports say the Spanish goalkeeper has refused to give up hope on recovering in time to face Liverpool tomorrow evening.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw will face late fitness tests, while Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones definitely remain on the sidelines.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 17, 2019
In contrast, Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker could return for the visitors, after recovering from the calf injury he sustained in the league opener against Norwich.
Mohamed Salah is a slight doubt for the Reds, but is expected to be fit for the Old Trafford showdown, while Joel Matip’s availability is still under question.
Talk to the press
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his players need to start taking more risks in order to get better results in the future.
“Of course, it’s about results and [to] start winning games and start scoring goals, which is the main thing. We need to create more chances because, at the back, I think we’ve looked solid, but we haven’t been adventurous enough, taking enough risks.
“If you watch the best teams around, they risk the ball more often than we do, make more runs in behind and that’s part of the process for the boys.
“When they’re losing confidence, maybe they want to play a bit more safe and it’s my duty to say ‘come on’. It’s not safety here. At this club, you do take risks,” said Solskjaer at the pre-game press conference.
🤩 F I N I S H E S 🤩
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 18, 2019
Jurgen Klopp insists he is aware of Manchester United’s strengths despite their poor results in the 2019-20 campaign so far.
“I’m 100 percent aware of the strength of Manchester United, I expect their best possible line-up. Four days ago, I think Ole said ‘no chance’ for De Gea or Pogba, today it’s a ‘maybe’, tomorrow it’s ‘100 percent’. Martial will be back, all that stuff.
“That’s how these games are played, no problem with that. But I’m old enough and we are experienced enough to judge all the things in the right way.
“We have to be very, very lively, we have to be emotional as much as allowed, we have to be fluent, we have to be very clear in a lot of moments, and we have to respect their strength – and that’s what we do,” the German coach said to the press yesterday afternoon.
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last six home games against Liverpool, including five league matches (W3, D2).
It is Liverpool’s longest winless run at Old Trafford in the top flight since a 10-match streak between 1991 and 2000.
The Red Devils have lost just one of the last 10 encounters with their arch-rivals, last season’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield, which saw Jose Mourinho getting the sack a few days later.
This is the first time Liverpool are facing Man Utd in a Premier League match while being top of the table since October 1996.
The Merseyside Reds are one win away from equalling the all-time English top-flight record of 18 consecutive victories, set by Manchester City between August and December 2017. They could also match Chelsea’s record of nine wins in the opening nine games from 2005.
Manchester United are two short of becoming the first team to score 2,000 Premier League goals. However, they have not scored more than once in any of their past 10 league and cup games – their worst such run since 2007.