Manchester United will be hoping to get back to winning ways today against Liverpool, after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday night. The defeat was partially expected as Solskjær fielded a weak line-up due to United’s unfair match schedule this week, but that didn’t make the defeat much less irritating for fans.
This clash against Liverpool will be the Red Devil’s 3rd match in 5 days, after beating Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park on Sunday as well. A win today would see United edge one step further to confirming a 2nd placed finish for the 2020/21 Premier League season, which is a position higher than the last campaign. Manchester United finished with 66 points that season, and being on 70 points already this season, it will be the most successful campaign yet under the Norweigan.Embed from Getty Images
Today’s match up will kick off live at 20:15 BST, and be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK. The referee for the occasion will be Anthony Taylor, with Paul Tierney manning VAR.
A Form Guide
Discounting United’s loss on Tuesday evening, the main XI have been on wonderful form of late. Pre-Tuesday, United had not lost in their last 14 league games, and had won 4 of the last 5. There were many reports just after the intial Manchester United vs Liverpool match (that was due to be played on 2nd May, 11 days ago), that claimed United players were disappointed at the postponement of the fixture, as they were fired up to play Liverpool, so there is no doubt that the Manchester United players will be raring and ready to go for this battle.
United’s last encounter with Liverpool was very much a match to remember. It was the FA Cup round of 16, with Liverpool coming to Old Trafford. The match started off poorly for the Red Devils, with Mohamed Salah opening the scoring just shy of the 20 minute mark. However, it did not take long for United to reply, with young gun Mason Greenwood latching on to a wonderful cross-field pass from Marcus Rashford to equalise. As the 2nd half commenced, Rashford then grabbed himself a goal to give United a well deserved lead, before Salah once again scored to make the scores level. The match was once again turned on it’s head as Bruno Fernandes came on as a substitute to change the game and grab the eventual winner, scoring a clever free kick from the edge of the area.Embed from Getty Images
The last league game between the two ended in a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield, where at the time a win would have seen United go top of the league. It was quite the opposite to the sides’ FA Cup clash, being quite a dull and conservative game.
For Liverpool, they come in to this match in very mixed form. They did beat Southampton 2-0 last Saturday, however preceding this game they had 3 consecutive draws to Newcastle, Leeds and Real Madrid, with the latter knocking them out of the Champions League on that night. Tonight’s match is a crutial one for Liverpool, as they are putting in a late bid to try and secure a top 4 finish for the season, currently sitting in 6th place and 7 points behind Chelsea in 4th (but with a game in hand). Failure to beat United would pretty much signify that Liverpool will not be playing Champions League football next season.
Following United’s rotated side that played against Leicester City, it is safe to say that barring any last minute problems, Dean Henderson, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani will all come back in to the side, having all been rested from the starting XI on Tuesday. Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Daniel James and Anthony Martial are all still injured, and so will not feature.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Orzan Kabak, Naby Keita and Joel Matip for the fixture. Most likely, we will see Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams play as Liverpool’s centre-back pairing.
Ones to Watch
The key player to look out for from Manchester United will be Bruno Fernandes.
Despite him having one of the best goal and assist producing seasons ever seen from a Premier League midfielder, Fernandes has drawn critics this season for his lack of “big game” performances in the Premier League this season. He has two goals against the ‘big six’ sides this season, both of which have been penalities. Although some may feel that the critisism of him not ‘turning up’ in big games may be unwarrented considering his overall impact on the side this season, it would really put critics to bed should he have a good game tonight. If Bruno Fernandes scores, he will break Frank Lampard‘s record for most goals scored by a Premier League midfielder in one season (in all competitions), which is an incredible feat. Bruno Fernandes is currently tied with Lampard with 27 goals.
For Liverpool, the man to watch will be Sadio Mane. Despite admitting in a recent interview with French channel Canal+ that this season has been “the worst” of his career, he may be heading for a late run of decent form, as shown by his headed goal against Southampton on Saturday.
A game of pride?
Both sides will be playing for pride tonight, but for different reasons. Liverpool’s fall from grace this season, largely impacted by the long term injuries of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, has been something that no one saw coming. A loss tonight would see them stay in 6th place, and depending on how the final three matches go, they could realisitically finish as low as 8th. A top 4 finish would see them salvage something from a frankly embarassing season from last year’s league champions, but as the season draws to a close, that is beginning to look less and less likely.
United are playing for the pride of getting one over on your most bitter of rivals. Two nights ago, Mancheser City were confirmed as Premier League Champions, which although expected, still hurts United fans around the globe. To be able to beat Liverpool would definitely help soften the blow, as who doesn’t love embarssing the Reds at Old Trafford.