Old enemies Liverpool and Manchester United lock horns again on Sunday in English football’s fiercest rivalry.
Jurgen Klopp’s side head into the weekend top of the Premier League table following three straight wins over Fulham, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, sitting a point clear of Arsenal and two ahead of Aston Villa.
However, it’s a 10-point gap separating them from this weekend’s opponents, with Manchester United languishing in sixth following their 3-0 home humiliation to Bournemouth last time out.
As always, this is among the most hotly-anticipated clashes in the Premier League calendar, so get yourself geared up with predicted XIs, stats and key players for each team.
Liverpool vs Manchester United predicted XIs
Liverpool predicted XI
As we enter the busy festive period, squads will be tested to the limit, but this is no fixture in which to shuffle your pack.
Alisson will continue between the sticks after returning against Palace last time out — though he was, of course, rested in the Europa League against Union SG during the week — with an incredibly strong back-four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, captain Virgil van Dijk and Kostas Tsimikas ahead of him.
Alexis Mac Allister is still nursing a nasty knee injury, so Wataru Endo should provide the bite at the base of Klopp’s midfield, with the legs and creativity coming from the expensive and immensely talented duo of Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch.
Manchester United’s worst enemy, Mohamed Salah (more on him later) will obviously line up on the right, while we expect to see Darwin Nunez give the Red Devils’ flimsy defence a physical examination. With just one more spot up for grabs, Luis Diaz feels like the most natural option on the left. The Colombian has four goals in his last 10 games for club and country.
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Manchester United predicted XI
Despite giving Manchester United fans ‘the fear’ every time the ball comes near him, Andre Onana ranks among the best goalkeepers in the Premier League in a statistical sense and is the clear choice.
As if things weren’t tough enough for Erik ten Hag, in-form centre-back Harry Maguire went down with injury against Bayern Munich during the week and misses out. Luckily, Luke Shaw’s hamstring tweak doesn’t look serious and shouldn’t keep him out. Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans seem the most likely partnership in the middle.
Sofyan Amrabat is growing into his role with his new club, while Scott McTominay is basically undroppable in this sort of game right now given his surprise goalscoring form this season. Expect the Scotsman to play a little further forward thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ ill-timed suspension, with exciting youngster Kobbie Mainoo sitting alongside Amrabat.
It’s in attack where the Red Devils are struggling most, but with so many players missing, it is the out-of-form Marcus Rashford, Rasmus Hojlund and Antony whom Ten Hag will most likely turn to. Rashford, at least, has history against Liverpool, scoring six career goals in this fixture.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: 10 key stats
- This is the 33rd Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Manchester United on a Sunday, the joint-most played fixture on this day in the competition’s history (Chelsea vs Liverpool also 33).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League home games against Man Utd (W4 D3), winning the last two by an aggregate score of 11-0. They last had a longer run without a league defeat at Anfield against them between 1970 and 1979 (9).
- Mohamed Salah has either scored (17 goals) or assisted (4 assists) a goal in each of his last 16 Premier League games at Anfield for Liverpool. Only Thierry Henry (17 matches) and Alan Shearer (17 and 18 matches) have enjoyed better runs.
- The Egyptian has scored 12 goals in 12 games against Man Utd for Liverpool; it’s the most goals he’s scored against an opponent for the club, and the most goals any Liverpool player has ever scored against the Red Devils.
- Man Utd have failed to score in their last four Premier League away games against Liverpool. They last had a longer run without an away league goal against an opponent between 1969 and 1974 (6 vs Everton).
Only Arsenal and Newcastle (both 13) have had more different goalscorers (ex. own goals) in the Premier League this season than Liverpool (12).
- Man Utd have failed to win any of their last 13 Premier League away games against sides starting the day in the top eight of the table (D3 L10)
- The suspended Bruno Fernandes has been involved in 33% of Man Utd’s league goals this season (6/18), more than any other player for them, while across the league he ranks first for chances created (47) and second for expected assists (5.2) behind only Kieran Trippier (5.4).
- Marcus Rashford has scored six career goals against Man Utd to date, only scoring more against Leicester (8).
- This fixture has seen at least three goals scored in each of its last seven editions.
Liverpool vs Manchester United key players
Liverpool key players
Mohamed Salah has 10 goals and four assists in 11 games against United. No player has ever scored more goals against the Red Devils for a single team. He also has more yellow cards for taking his top off while celebrating goals against United (2) than their whole team has scored at Anfield since 2017/18.
Since joining Liverpool, Mohamed Salah has scored more Premier League goals against Man Utd (10) than United have scored against Liverpool (8).
— Squawka (@Squawka) December 15, 2023
What we’re trying to say is that Salah knows his way around this most illustrious of fixtures. He is the man to see off Man Utd for Liverpool, and he very much enjoys doing so. The Egyptian heads into Sunday in incredible form, scoring or assisting at least once in five of his last six Premier League matches among a host of other stats you read earlier.
Virgil van Dijk
It’s incredible to think that Virgil van Dijk has faced Manchester United at Anfield on just four occasions so far, he feels so much like part of the furniture at Liverpool. The giant centre-back sports an incredible record across those four matches, though, only ever tasting victory and doing so by a quite remarkable 16-1 combined scoreline. The one Premier League match against Man Utd Van Dijk missed since joining Liverpool ended in a 0-0 draw.
Of course, Van Dijk isn’t a mere one-fixture specialist. He’s been the best centre-back in the Premier League for a number of years now. Even Manchester United alumni cannot help but be impressed by him, with compatriot Jaap Stam picking him as the all-time Premier League centre-back he’d have next to him.
“I’d keep it Dutch, I’d play alongside Virgil van Dijk. It would be a good partnership. I like the others but Virgil is a very good player,” Stam said on the latest episode of the Stick to Football Podcast.
Gary Neville added: “It would be a formidable pair.”
Manchester United key players
After hitting 30 goals across all competitions last season, so much was expected of Marcus Rashford this time around but he’s quite simply not delivered. The England international has endured a miserable campaign so far with just two goals in 20 appearances to his name.
That said, it’s important to remember he’s the man for the big occasion. We mentioned before that he has netted six career goals against Liverpool. Well, he also enjoys the same record against both Chelsea and Arsenal, while he’s netted five times against Manchester City.
In 69 career appearances against those aforementioned opponents, Rashford has tasted victory on just 21 occasions, but that’s more a reflection of Man Utd’s fall rather than on the player himself, especially given his goalscoring record.
Erik ten Hag has frustratingly seen a number of his signings as Man Utd manager flop so far. If anyone has come close to being a success, though, it’s Lisandro Martinez.
There’s still so much more for the Argentine to do if he’s to be considered a genuine hit at Old Trafford but his tenacity and fearlessness give him all the ingredients. Those are both qualities that could serve him well in the Anfield cauldron, and Ten Hag will look to Martinez to lead the troops against their table-topping rivals.
“Lisandro Martinez is a good player. He’s got a great mentality, he’s very good on the ball, as well — but he needs to step up,” said Stam.