Man Utd host Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday night in the English Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s team had stuttered at the beginning of this season with two surprising draws whilst Man Utd have looked a shambles under Erik Ten Hag. The Reds won these fixtures last season with a 9-0 aggregate as the gulf in class never looked bigger. This clash will put build-up versus pressing in this heated rivalry.
Man Utd Form
United’s form is dire. It’s seven losses in a row on the road, which is unheard of for a club of their stature. This season has seen desperate performances to lose 2-1 at home to Brighton and then 4-0 to Brentford. They trailed by four goals after 37 minutes in that match.
This comes on the back of an awful end to last season. The Red Devils lost five of their last eight fixtures in the league including 4-0 at Anfield. A round 37 loss, 4-0 at Brighton, felt like their rock-bottom before losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace on the final day too.
Man Utd Team News
Ten Hag has seen Casemiro signed this week from Real Madrid for £70m but he was not signed in time to play in this match. The Dutch coach will have to decide whether he selects Fred or Scott McTominay, or both, in midfield. In attack, Anthony Martial is training again so it becomes a big sideshow if he plays and Cristiano Ronaldo is dropped.
At the back, Tyrell Malacia could replace Luke Shaw and there is talk of Harry Maguire being dropped for Raphael Varane. There were also murmurs that Lisandro Martínez had been training in a midfield role so look out for that surprise switch.
Man Utd Motivation
In terms of result, a draw would be seen as something positive from this match after a 5-0 defeat in this fixture last season. Ten Hag is not a coach to set up to play for a point, though.
Expect the Dutch coach to ask his players to play out from the back with high-risk short passes despite the intensity of Liverpool’s famous pressing.
The Reds had an amazing second half of last season, winning 16 and drawing three of their final 19 Premier League matches. After drawing 2-2 with Man City, they took 19 points from the final 21 available but it wasn’t enough to lift the title.
Liverpool are now three matches without a victory. They lost the UEFA Champions League final 1-0 to Real Madrid in Paris to finish last term. This season has begun with a 2-2 draw at Fulham and a 1-1 home draw with Crystal Palace. The side fell behind three times over the two matches but fought back to get equalisers. They did that with ten men vs the Eagles, winning the final half-hour 1-0 with a man less.
Liverpool Team News
The Reds are without the suspended Darwin Nunez up front whilst Diogo Jota is injured. Roberto Firmino has been training and should lead the line, otherwise, it’ll be Mohamed Salah centrally and perhaps Harvey Elliott down the right.
Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip are injured in defence but Joe Gomez is now fully fit and should start. Thiago Alcantara is absent in midfield so it’ll be Fabinho plus two. Jordan Henderson and Elliott are perhaps the most likely to be selected as number eights.
This is a must-win match. Even with City dropping points at Newcastle, the gap can’t be allowed to stay this big to the defending champions. A Reds win would see them go to five points, just two off City after three matches.
Expect similar to the first 30 minutes against Fulham: very aggressive pressing and counter-pressing and lots of crosses fired into the box. Liverpool will play to win and won’t take their foot off the pedal if leading.
Man Utd have lost 7 of their last 11 PL matches
Man Utd were beaten 5-0 and 4-0 by Liverpool last season
Man Utd have been losing at both HT and FT in 6 of their last 8 PL matches
Liverpool are winless in 3 matches in all comps (LDD)
Liverpool are 21 PL matches unbeaten (W16, D5)
Liverpool are 6 PL matches without a clean sheet
Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 away PL matches
Man Utd’s stuttering build-up play vs Liverpool’s aggressive pressing… what can go wrong? It’s very difficult to see the hosts avoiding defeat in this one with the way they’re playing. If they can be more solid and pragmatic and the Reds continue their slow start, then perhaps a draw is possible. More likely is Liverpool scoring early and winning the match.