Manchester United v Liverpool: Interesting fare in the offing

As Manchester United prepares to host Liverpool for what would be the 50th meeting between the two Premier League giants, we take a look at all the stats and find what to expect when one of England’s biggest rivalry takes centrestage on Sunday.

The reverse fixture between these two teams, at Anfield, was a rather forgettable 0-0 draw, with United recording just 35 per cent possession.   -  getty images

As Manchester United prepares to host Liverpool for what would be the 50th meeting between the two Premier League giants, we take a look at all the stats and find what to expect when one of England’s biggest rivalry takes centrestage on Sunday.

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For starters, Liverpool will be certainly hoping to improve its record at Old Trafford, where it has lost 11 of the last 14 games and won three. This might be good news for the neutrals, as the game looks likely to produce a result.

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The good news for Liverpool fans is that Jurgen Klopp has only lost once to Mourinho in six matches — way back in 2013 when Dortmund lost 2-0 to Real Madrid at Bernabeu.

Form guide

Both the clubs come into this match with some impressive form. United has gone 11 games unbeaten in the league, its longest since March 2013 (18). Also, it has won the last six matches; it last won seven in 2013 and lifted the league title that season.

Liverpool is the team with the second longest unbeaten run (6). It has lost just once in the last 18 Premier League fixtures, and this impressive form is one of the reasons why it has managed to stay close on Chelsea's heels.

Sunday’s game will be crucial for United. With a win, it can reduce the gap with Liverpool to just two points while a Liverpool win will certainly rule the Red Devils out of title contention.

 

Players to look out for

Wayne Rooney has an impressive scoring record against Liverpool (6), and in what could be his 450th EPL appearance, the United striker will be certainly hoping to become the club’s highest goal-scorer by finding the 250th goal to beat Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.

Ibrahimovic’s form has been the key to success for Mourinho. The Swede has scored 13 goals in the League this season, already two more than United’s top goal-scorer in the last season (Martial with 11).

Juan Mata has scored more goals for United against Liverpool than any other team (3, level with Norwich). The Spaniard has also had a hand in five goals in his last four appearances against the Merseyside club in the Premier League, scoring three and assisting two.

Liverpool will be missing Sadio Mane, who is away on international duty for Sengal. He has been involved in 13 goals this season for the Reds (9 goals, 4 assists). But Klopp can take solace from the fact that his side has three players — Lallana, Mane and Coutinho — with 10+ goals and assists in the Premier League.

One unsung hero for Liverpool has been Jordan Henderson, who has had more successful passes than any other player in the league this season (1,436). He also has the highest tackles for the club this season, and will be crucial in stopping Pogba and Co. from creating a supply line for Ibrahimovic.

Adam Lallana has been a whole new player under Klopp, with seven goals and seven assists. He will undoubtedly be the biggest attacking option for Liverpool.

What to expect

The reverse fixture between these two teams, at Anfield, was a rather forgettable 0-0 draw, with United recording just 35 per cent possession.

But a lot has changed since, United looks a far more settled side, and Mourinho can’t use the same tactics he deployed at Anfield. He has asked the crowd to support his side more, but it is up to his players to set the tone early.

The battle between Pogba and Henderson in midfield will be crucial to the outcome, with the GBP 89m Frenchman finally looking more settled, thanks to the introduction of Michael Carrick in the line-up which gives him more freedom.

Liverpool will certainly miss Mane and it will be interesting to see if Coutinho starts on Sunday. The Brazilian is coming back from a long layoff, but Klopp will need him to hit the ground running if required.

With Bailly missing, the United defence will certainly have its task cut out. Liverpool has been setting the standards in the league when it comes to goals. It is the highest scoring team with 48 goals so far. It also has the highest percentage of shots on target (53.5 per cent).

One key stat, which explains the difference between the two clubs in the table is the chance conversion. While both have had similar amount of chances (36 and 44), Liverpool has the second best conversion rate of 59.1 per cent whereas United has the worst at 33.3 per cent.

Klopp will look to go for a win, as he knows anything less will be good news for Chelsea but it will be interesting to see how Mourinho plays his cards, and that might well decide how the game pans out.

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