Liverpool host Manchester United this weekend in what is shaping up to be the biggest clash between the two old rivals in years.
Paul Pogba’s volley against Burnley on Tuesday sent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side back to the top of the Premier League for the first time in over seven years, moving three points clear of the champions ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Anfield.
Winless in their last four visits to the red half of Merseyside, United are out to underline their title credentials and attempt to knock Liverpool off their perch again.
While hurting from a loss to Southampton last time out in the league, there will be no better remedy for Jurgen Klopp and his side than bursting United’s bubble and reclaiming their place at the summit of English football.
That fixture is Sky’s Super 6 Extra offering this weekend – below we offer our breakdown and predictions for the match.
It is almost five years to the day since Manchester United last tasted victory at Anfield. It’s been almost four years since any team tasted victory at Anfield in the Premier League. But is the tide turning?
Undefeated on the road this season, United head into the fixture in superb form with nine wins and two draws from their last 11. Liverpool meanwhile are without a win in their last three league fixtures with just four in their last 10, sunk by Danny Ings’ winner at St Mary’s on last Monday.
The last three fixtures between these two have seen under 2.5 goals scored and with so much on the line, another tight affair could be on the cards.
Squawka prediction: 1-1
United’s slow starts are still a slight concern, as we saw at Turf Moor on Tuesday. Solskjaer’s men have conceded the first goal in six of their eight away matches in the league this term and have led at the break away from home in just one of their last five.
18 of Liverpool’s 37 league goals this term have come in the first half – only 13 of United’s 34 have come in that period with four of those coming in the same match against Leeds.
If Liverpool can get off to a bright start then could very well catch United cold again.
Squawka prediction: 1-0
First goal scorer
Mohamed Salah leads the Premier League scoring charts with 13 goals this season with Bruno Fernandes among the pack of four tied in third with 11.
Fernandes meanwhile continues to be an instrumental force for United and has contributed in 18 of United’s 34 Premier League goals (11 goals, seven assists) this season. All four of Edinson Cavani’s goals for United this season have come away from home – but all have come when the Uruguayan has come on from the bench.
Squawka prediction: Mohamed Salah
Fernandes also leads the United charts in bookings, collecting four so far this season along with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. In all, United have picked up 28 yellow cards this season compared to Liverpool’s 16.
Squawka prediction: Luke Shaw
How many corners in the match?
Liverpool took 10 corners in their last league outing away to Southampton, also hitting double figures (12) against Newcastle.
United had a relatively low corner count of four in the win over Burnley but tested Aston Villa with 10 in their last home game on New Year’s Day.
Squawka prediction: 16
Man of the match
Recent results between these two suggest another rather cagey affair could be on offer. With that in mind, the contest could be won and lost at the back with both defences needing to be on form. Liverpool remain without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez but Fabinho remains a formidable presence at the heart of defence.
Eric Bailly meanwhile hopes to retain his place alongside Harry Maguire at the back. The Ivorian has managed four successive starts in all competitions for the first time since September – with United conceding just once in that period.
Squawka prediction: Fabinho
Tie breaker: Possession share
Liverpool have averaged 64.41 per cent of possession this season – but not always to their advantage. Against Southampton (67 per cent), Newcastle (73.1 per cent) and West Brom (78.1 per cent) the Reds dominated the ball as they chased goals but were still denied all three points.
United had 63 per cent of the ball against Burnley, 52 against Aston Villa and 58 against Wolves.
Solskjaer’s side operating on the counter has become a familiar sight and a more accurate comparison may lie in the stats from their 2-2 draw with Leicester on Boxing Day, with United settling for 46 per cent of the ball across 90 minutes.
Squawka prediction: Liverpool 56 per cent, Manchester United 44 per cent
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