Form goes out of the window against Liverpool…hopefully.
In terms of both quality and league position, Manchester United and Liverpool are as far apart as they’ve been in the Premier League era.
As Reds of the Mancunian persuasion we hate to see it. On the back of United’s worst start in 30 years we’re running a severe risk of becoming everything that we’ve poked fun at the Scousers for. Fielding teams hardly befitting of the club’s prestige and carrying a distinct air of being beatable both at home and away. Transition periods are often necessary in football but they can’t be allowed to go on for too long, even it does make the return to success that bit sweeter.
As it stands right now, Liverpool come to Old Trafford on Sunday as the firm favourites. Jurgen Klopp’s side sit top of the league on a potentially record-breaking run of Premier League wins, not to mention their status as European Champions. Liverpool are reaping the rewards of bringing in a top class manager and allowing him to develop his team, through the rough and the smooth.
United fans would like to hope that their club is a start of a similar journey and interestingly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s record in his first 29 Premier League games as Manchester United is better then Klopp’s in his opening period at Anfield. Added to that, the drop off in form and the slew of injuries later on in those runs is strikingly similar. Both managers sought to instill greater work ethics in their sides and ended up with multiple muscle injuries as a result of the workload.
Those injuries to Solskjaer’s side have undoubtedly had a major impact on his team’s form and performances in this early season run of misery. Over half of the side that started that first game against Chelsea have been out for games of late, some for extended periods, and it shows. The abject defeat to Newcastle United last time out further hammered home the fact that the fringe players bring about a significant drop in quality for one reason or another. United’s chances of getting anything from this game will rest on how many players can return from injury.
The United boss has as-good-as confirmed that David de Gea will miss the game after pulling up on international duty with Spain but he actually arrived at the Lowry with the rest of the squad. We do, though, know for sure that Paul Pogba will be missing again. The task ahead is already tough; losing one his truly world class players won’t do Solskjaer any favours.
The back line could be further boosted with the return of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. However, the right-back won’t be joined by his left flank counterpart as Luke Shaw sits another game out. His spot could be covered by Marcos Rojo or Ashley Young whilst Victor Lindelof will probably return alongside Harry Maguire in central defence.
The other key man that has returned to play a part is Anthony Martial, a man whose early season goals have been severely missed in the side for weeks. He may not be fit enough for 90 minutes but we can probably expect him to play a part, either from the bench or for an hour or so.
As for Liverpool, they’re more than likely to be at full strength, especially since Allison has returned to training. Even with an important away trip to Belgium in the Champions League to contend with in midweek, Klopp won’t go easy as he looks to keep or even extend their lead at the top.
United on the other hand could find themselves even closer to the relegation zone with a draw or defeat. Worries and fears of that being a genuine thing to worry about are most definitely premature but for more pain to be inflicted by such a rival would be tough to take. The United players shouldn’t need any extra motivation to get a result this weekend but if there is additional motive, it’s salvaging some pride. It will take some doing, though.
Score Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool