Club football fans don’t usually look forward to international football, especially when their side is at the top of the table, having won eight games out of eight. For Liverpool, Sunday’s clash against Manchester United will be a test even though their arch-rivals are in a terrible rut.
Liverpool have never beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford under Jürgen Klopp, and that’s something which will rankle. The Reds dropped points at Old Trafford last season and you can look at those two points as something which decided the title.
There were other games Liverpool didn’t win, but hearing Manchester United fans say ‘we stopped Liverpool from winning the Premier League for the first time’ despite an unprecedented sixth Champions League was perhaps a bit frustrating for most Reds fans most last season.
Liverpool can not only match the feat of the most run of Premier League victories if they beat Manchester United, but also match the best ever start to a season that was set by Chelsea more than a decade ago, and at the same time put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side under further misery.
Manchester United are there for the taking, and haven’t looked as bad since the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Luckily, he was afforded enough time, and considering the failures of this United team under Solskjaer, time might not be on the Norwegian’s side.
United have looked dire; Liverpool have looked like an unstoppable force. If you watch United games, you get the inevitable feeling that they will concede; you watch Liverpool games and you’ll get the feeling that no matter how bad a day their front three are having, they’ll still manage to find a way to win the game. In short, Manchester United have been abject, and Liverpool the total opposite.
Expectations and the weight of the fixture the only thing that can stop Liverpool
There was a time when this game often captivated both sets of fans and the neutrals. Liverpool, even in their dark days under Roy Hodgson, managed to muster the spirit to trouble Manchester United before a Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick condemned them to a defeat. The same cannot be said of this Manchester United team which lacks leaders and match-winners.
A lot has been said of the game and how Liverpool will be too good for Manchester United, but as was the case in February, Klopp’s side were heavy favourites and their chances of beating United only got better after Solskjaer’s side were handed two big injury blows in the first half. Yet, the Reds didn’t find enough quality on the pitch to beat the old foes.
United are in a worse situation right now and have a squad bereft of confidence. Liverpool just need to click for them to make it nine wins in a row. However, the international break will perhaps make it not so smooth.
While Mohamed Salah was nursing a twisted ankle and will be fit, it remains to be seen if he will be at 100%. Roberto Firmino, who often links up play with is clever positioning and passes, featured for Brazil and travelling to and from Brazil always takes a toll, though there is enough time for him to recover and sync up with his teammates again.
Adrian has done a fine job in goal, but Alisson’s return means the Brazilian is likely to start. Alisson is one of the best if not the best goalkeepers in the world, but a return in a game of this magnitude will always throw across a few doubts.
Make a combined XI of the two teams, and not one Manchester United player would get into the lineup. In Klopp, Liverpool have the perfect manager to prepare them for the clash against Manchester United, and it’s just a test of whether or not they can shed the history off their backs and finally beat the team, who they are currently head and shoulders above, at their own ground.