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Premier League | Gameweek 32
Apr 7, 2024 at 3.30pm UK
Old Trafford
LL

Man Utd
2 - 2
Liverpool

Fernandes (50'), Mainoo (67')
Kambwala (74'), Onana (80'), Mount (90+3'), Antony (90+4'), Casemiro (90+7')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Diaz (23'), Salah (84' pen.)
Bradley (7'), Jones (89')

Manchester United vs. Liverpool Combined XI - Salah, Fernandes, Van Dijk

:Headline: Manchester United vs. Liverpool Combined XI - Salah, Fernandes, Van Dijk:
Sports Mole picks a combined XI from Manchester United and Liverpool's squads, including Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes and Virgil van Dijk.
Sports Mole

Three weeks on from a seven-goal spectacular in the FA Cup quarter-finals, Manchester United and Liverpool's blockbuster Premier League clash at Old Trafford on Sunday has a lot to live up to.

During a 120-minute March thriller, the Red Devils emerged triumphant 4-3 to advance to Wembley and extinguish the Reds' quadruple hopes for another year, prior to which an Anfield defensive masterclass saw them record a creditable goalless draw in the Premier League.

However, Erik ten Hag's men have quickly lost their resilience and were on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline on Thursday night, suffering an astonishing loss to Chelsea despite leading deep into injury time.

Less than an hour before the full-time whistle sounded at Stamford Bridge, Jurgen Klopp's men surged back to the summit courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United, despite starting slowly in front of the Merseyside faithful.

Ahead of another eagerly-awaited scrap between England's most successful clubs, Sports Mole selects a combined XI from both squads, using only players expected to be fit for the contest.


With Alisson Becker still nursing a thigh injury, Caoimhin Kelleher will guard the Liverpool sticks at Old Trafford, where he failed to cover himself in glory during last month's FA Cup tie - something Andre Onana also knows a thing or two about. However, the Cameroonian's sticky start is now a thing of the past, as eight clean sheets in the league is joint second to Arsenal's David Raya, while a 75% save rate is also the third highest of its kind in the division, so the Man United number one gets our vote over the Reds' number two.

One of two Red Devils representatives in our rearguard, Onana is often protected by Diogo Dalot, whose Man United career appeared to be hanging by a thread at one stage, but the Portuguese is now a firm favourite of Ten Hag's and has tackled 39 dribblers in the current Premier League season, the sixth most in the division. Thanks to Andrew Robertson's struggles to stay fit, Dalot acts as our left-back here. Trent Alexander-Arnold would have been a routine pick had he not been recovering from a knee injury, but Conor Bradley - in spite of his own goal on Thursday - has quickly risen to prominence at Anfield, registering one goal of his own and six assists in 2023-24, and he earns our vote over Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Due to injuries to Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans, Ten Hag may only be working with two senior centre-backs at Old Trafford in the shape of Harry Maguire and Willy Kambwala. While the former has done brilliantly to reignite his Red Devils career, the lack of available options means that Liverpool pair Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate - who rank first and eighth respectively for the percentage of aerial duels won in the 2023-24 Premier League - were simple picks.

Number sixes Casemiro and Wataru Endo have also emerged as doubts for the contest at Old Trafford, although the latter is expected to return, allowing Alexis Mac Allister to roam free further up the field. However, whether he is indeed deployed in a deep lying role or advanced position, the Argentine has been increasingly influential to Liverpool's results with five goals and five assists in his last 10 games, including an absolute rocket to put the Reds ahead on Thursday evening.

As applaudable as Kobbie Mainoo's rise has been in recent months, the England international is far from the finished product and just misses out on a place in the midfield triumvirate to Dominik Szoboszlai, who quickly adapted to life in the Premier League and now seeks to regain his early-season form following a hamstring injury. There is room for one of Ten Hag's central figureheads in the engine room, though, as Bruno Fernandes notched his fifth goal of the top-flight season against Chelsea - even if it was in vain - and no player has made more key passes than the Portuguese's 89 in the Premier League this term.

Darwin Nunez's opening goal for Liverpool on Thursday night was one of the more bizarre efforts he will score in his career, as he charged down Ivo Grbic's clearance and saw the ball trickle into the net off his backside. They all count, though, and Nunez was rewarded for his endeavour with a 32nd goal contribution from 44 games in all competitions during an eye-catching campaign, and he pips Alejandro Garnacho and Luis Diaz to the left-wing role. With Liverpool's beloved agent of chaos operating out wide, seven-goal Man United striker Rasmus Hojlund starts through the middle in our star-studded XI thanks to his record-breaking six-game scoring streak before entering the treatment room with a muscle injury, and the Dane also sits in the top 10 of a statistical category this term - 51.6% of his shots landing on target is the ninth-best record of its kind in the league.

Neither Hojlund nor Mohamed Salah had smiles etched across their faces in midweek, though, as the latter did not even last an hour against Sheffield United and was aggrieved to be taken off as Liverpool sought to re-establish their advantage. However, alongside his 25 combined goals and assists in the top flight this term - 16 of his own and nine helpers for his teammates - Salah has registered 13 times against Sunday's hosts in the past, his most against a single opponent during his distinguished career. One more strike versus the Red Devils this weekend would also see the Egyptian become the first player to score in four straight Premier League games against Man United at Old Trafford, and he was inevitably our most straightforward pick.


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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
2Arsenal38285591296289
3Liverpool382410486414582
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
6Chelsea381891177631463
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
12Bournemouth38139165467-1348
13Fulham38138175561-647
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
15Everton38139164051-1140
16Brentford38109195665-939
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RBurnley3859244178-3724
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916
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