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Preview: Manchester United vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

By , Editor | 1mo
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League showdown between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Already the biggest fixture in English football, Sunday's meeting between Manchester United and Liverpool will seem that bit bigger with the hosts chasing top-four football and the visitors bidding for a first top-flight title since 1990.

The two clubs have won 38 league titles between them, and Liverpool's hopes of adding another to that tally could hinge on how they fare at the home of their greatest rivals.


Man Utd

It was a match against Liverpool just over two months ago which brought an end to Jose Mourinho's ill-fated Manchester United reign and ushered in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era.

Still only in interim charge, the Norwegian would surely secure the job on a permanent basis if his side are able to beat the very team which ultimately forced the sacking of his predecessor.

Solskjaer has passed almost every test which has come his way with flying colours so far, winning 11 of his 13 matches at the helm across all competitions, including eight of his nine Premier League games.

It is not only a record which puts him at the top of the list of United's illustrious list of managers; should the Red Devils avoid defeat on Sunday then Solskjaer will have picked up more points from his first 10 games in charge than any other manager in Premier League history.

The scale of the turnaround has been seismic, and while the initial upturn may have been as much down to Mourinho's cloud being lifted as Solskjaer's appointment, the continuation of their good form can only be attributed to the interim boss.

The Norwegian has already beaten Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea in his short spell at the helm, with the only blot on his copybook coming in the Champions League against the might of Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool's visit may pose a threat of similar proportions, but while in December they travelled to Anfield with the very real fear of utter embarrassment, now they will welcome their fiercest rivals with the very real belief that they can come away with all three points - something which would fittingly accentuate the transformation of the team under Solskjaer's tenure.

The prospect of damaging Liverpool's title hopes may be an even bigger incentive for United than securing their own place in the top four too, with the 20-time champions currently sitting one point above both Arsenal and Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.

To even be fighting for Champions League football again next season is incredible considering their December defeat to Liverpool left them 11 points off the top four, although Solskjaer will be the first to tell his team that their turnaround is not complete yet.

One particular issue to solve is their defensive record at home; whereas United have kept four successive away clean sheets in the league, they have managed only one at home all season and could go seven games in a row without one for the first time since 1972.

Considering Liverpool have scored in all of their Premier League away games this term it is a concern which needs to be addressed if United are to come away with the desired result from this showdown, although it has been almost a month since their last top-flight outing at Old Trafford, when they needed two late goals to rescue a 2-2 draw with Burnley.

Sunday's visitors are unlikely to let such a lead slip, should they be afforded it.

Recent Premier League form: WWWDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWLW


Liverpool

A visit to Old Trafford is always one of the standout events of any Liverpool season, but they have rarely made the trip in the Premier League era with so much riding on the match.

Jurgen Klopp's side have allowed their lead at the top of the table to be eroded in recent weeks, leaving them second in the standings behind champions Manchester City on goal difference.

Liverpool's game in hand leaves them still in charge of their own fate, but with City in EFL Cup final action this weekend a defeat for Liverpool at Old Trafford would swing the title race back firmly in favour of the champions.

Perception can often be as important as reality in such a tightly-contested title race, and even a draw for Liverpool this weekend would be viewed as more dropped points, despite being enough to lift them back above City into first place.

One of Klopp's main jobs during the run-in is to keep his side firmly focused on that reality; a point at Old Trafford - where Liverpool have not won since their last title challenge in 2013-14 - is never a bad result, particularly when they are the last of the top six sides to face away from home this season.

City must also travel to Old Trafford before the season is out and it would take a remarkable run of form for the champions to go through the remainder of the campaign without dropping points, so Liverpool will not be ringing any alarm bells if they do not come away with a maximum haul from Sunday's match.

The Reds are winless in their last seven away games against sides starting the day in the top four, but they have also only lost once in the Premier League all season, and that came away from home against Man City.

A victory in Manchester this time around will be the biggest statement of intent yet for Klopp's title hopefuls, who returned to form in their last league game after a slight blip by cruising to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth at Anfield.

Tuesday's goalless draw with Bayern Munich leaves their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread ahead of the return leg in Germany next month, but it is a sign of how much a Premier League title would mean to the club that their domestic ambitions remain the clear priority this season.

Liverpool will be coming up against a very different United side to the one they beat in December, but if they can produce the same result then that first title in 29 years would be theirs to lose.

Recent Premier League form: LWWDDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDDWD


Team News

United could have Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard back in contention for this match, with both attackers facing late fitness tests after picking up injuries against PSG.

Martial seems to be the more likely of the two to recover in time to start, which could see Juan Mata retain his place in the team should Lingard fall short.

David de Gea - looking for his 100th Premier League clean sheet - will return in goal, but there are unlikely to be too many changes from the team which beat Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday night.

Paul Pogba - notably left out of the team in the reverse fixture - has since scored eight goals and provided five assists in his last nine Premier League games and could become the first United player to score in five consecutive home league fixtures since Robin van Persie in 2013.

Liverpool are able to welcome Virgil van Dijk back into their starting XI in a bid to prevent that, though, with the Dutchman having sat out the Champions League game with Bayern due to suspension.

Joel Matip and Joe Gomez remain sidelined, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is now back and is expected to start again this weekend.

Klopp must decide which midfield trio to go with as Fabinho and James Milner push for inclusion, although he could stick with the same three that started against Bayern.

Sadio Mane is looking to become only the fifth Liverpool player to score in five consecutive Premier League games, while Mohamed Salah - who is yet to score against United - could notch his 50th league goal for the Reds in just his 63rd game, a tally which would be a single-club record should he manage it.

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Rashford, Martial

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane


Head To Head



Liverpool have lost seven and only won one of their last nine visits to Old Trafford in the Premier League, with that victory coming in March 2014.

United's triumph in the corresponding fixture last season was their only one in their last seven meetings with Liverpool home and away, though, including a 3-1 defeat in the reverse this term.

Despite being a traditionally ill-tempered affair, there has not been a single red card in the last seven Premier League editions of this fixture.


We say: Man Utd 1-1 Liverpool



This is a game which really could go either way, with United in the better form but coming up against a Liverpool side that has been grinding out results when needed all season. If Solskjaer tries to attack Liverpool then we could be in for goals at both ends, but it might be that the damage a defeat would cause overrides the attacking instincts of both teams.






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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool34267177205785
2Manchester CityMan City33272486226483
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs332211064343067
4Arsenal33206766402666
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd33197763441964
7Leicester CityLeicester34145154645147
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33138124142-147
9Everton34137144644246
10Watford33137134748-146
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham34126164252-1042
12Bournemouth34125174961-1241
13Crystal Palace34116174046-639
14Burnley34116174260-1839
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle34108163243-1138
16Southampton3399153954-1536
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3396183253-2133
18Cardiff CityCardiff3494213063-3331
RFulham3455243276-4420
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3435261967-4814
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Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool34267177205785
2Manchester CityMan City33272486226483
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs332211064343067
4Arsenal33206766402666
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd33197763441964
7Leicester CityLeicester34145154645147
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33138124142-147
9Everton34137144644246
10Watford33137134748-146
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham34126164252-1042
12Bournemouth34125174961-1241
13Crystal Palace34116174046-639
14Burnley34116174260-1839
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle34108163243-1138
16Southampton3399153954-1536
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3396183253-2133
18Cardiff CityCardiff3494213063-3331
RFulham3455243276-4420
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3435261967-4814
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