Liverpool (20-1-0) vs Manchester United (9-7-6)
Premier League: Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 11:30 am ET (Anfield)
Line and Odds: Livepool -211/Manchester United +643 — Over -106; Under -103
FREE EPL Pick Liverpool vs Manchester United
United travel to Anfield in a bid to accomplish the seemingly impossible
Leaders Liverpool host arch-rivals Manchester United in Matchday 23 of the Premier League on Sunday. Unbeaten in the league so far with a record 61 points (20 wins, one draw) from 21 matches, the outfit from Merseyside has looked almost invincible so far and look set to end their 28 year league title drought come the end of the season. However, United can take heart from the fact that it is the only team to have taken points off Jurgen Klopp’s phenomenal side this term – in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford earlier this season.
The match was but a minor blip in what has been an outstanding season so far. Liverpool are 13 points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at the summit of the league. They have also added the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to their trophy cabinet, the latter leading to an elimination in the Carabao Cup – one that will save Klopp’s men some unnecessary fixtures in an already packed schedule. Liverpool come into this game with victories in all of their last five matches despite. A 4-0 thrashing of Leicester at the King Power Stadium was followed by a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wolves and routine 2-0 win over Sheffield United at home in the league. They then fielded a youthful team against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in the FA Cup, but still managed to record a 1-0 victory, before beating Jose Mourinho’s Spurs 1-0 away from home. The very fact that the Reds from Merseyside have found a way out to beat quality oppositions, both home and away, convincingly is fuelling them towards a top-flight title after the longest of waits.
United haven’t had much to cheer about all season, however. Their inconsistent displays under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer have brought them up to 5th in the table thanks to the glimpses of quality and the points they have collected against clubs in the top half of the table. They have also progressed to the 4th Round of the FA Cup and still have the slightest of chances of making it to the finals of the Carabao Cup despite losing 1-3 to City in the first leg. The Red Devils’s struggles to string together victories are reflected ever so clearly in their last five results. A 2-0 loss to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal was followed by a goalless stalemate at the Molineux in the FA Cup, forcing a replay. Solksjaer’s side then lost to their cross-city rivals in the Carabao Cup, but since then, have won two on the trot. They first defeated Norwich City 4-0 in the league before seeing off Wolves 1-0 in the 3rd Round Replay fixture, both at home. Anfield will pose a stiff challenge for this United side and a loss might even see them drop from 5th in the table. But the Red Devils have displayed on more than one occasion that they are not afraid to give it a go against the Premier League’s “Big 6”. An interesting clash is on the cards if Solksjaer can rally his side to stand up to a dominant Liverpool and effect the smallest of dents on an other wise perfectly engineered machine.
FREE SOCCER Prediction Manchester United vs Liverpool
Last Time Out
United came out all guns blazing at Old Trafford and suffocated Liverpool with their direct play and sheer pace on counter-attacks. Both led to their opener as Daniel James teed up Marcus Rashford inside the box for a home lead at half-time. But Solksjaer’s side failed to capitalize on the opportunity and began sitting back, inviting all kinds of pressure from a potent Liverpool side, whose efforts paid off when unlikely goal-scorer Adam Lallana slotted in at the back-post five minutes from time after a harmless ball in to the box found him past United’s backline. It was a good result for the Red Devils, but could have been much more if they had not switched off. As for Liverpool, the draw only seemed to make them more hungry and they are now at the cusp of even more greatness.
Roberto Firmino comes into this game in great form. Not only did he score against Spurs last time out, the Brazilian has been vital to almost all of Liverpool’s forays forward. Stats don’t do the forward much justice – he has only 4 assists in the league so far – but his importance for Klopp’s side simply cannot be ignored. If he can pull the right strings against a weakened United side, Liverpool will easily pull away at Anfield.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will be the other threat to United’s brittle backline. The right-back has been Liverpool’s most creative player this season, with 8 assists in the league this season. Alexander-Arnold will however have to be defensively solid against United’s pacy attack. The 20-year old is likely to get plenty of space to exploit and will hope to make an impact against his boyhood club’s biggest rivals.
Anthony Martial will be vital to United’s chances at Anfield. With Marcus Rashford set to miss the match due to injury, the Frenchman will be the Red Devils’s focal point in attack. The 24-year old has eight goals and three assists in the league and will hope to add to his tally and help his outfit win some much-needed points against the league leaders.
Harry Maguire has come under constant criticism since signing for United this season. The world’s most expensive defender has been caught out several times and has also not been the threat from set-pieces he seemed to be at Leicester. The Englishman will have to put the past behind him and get in a good shift against a quality attack if United are to spring a surprise.
James Milner, Dejan Lovren and Naby Keita are all out injured, but Joel Matip and Fabinho are likely to return to the Liverpool bench.
Predicted Line-up: Alisson; Robertson, van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Axel Tuanzebe, Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay are all out injured, while Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are unlikely to be fit in time for this match. Luke Shaw, however, could return to fitness in time for the clash.
Predicted Line-up: de Gea; Williams, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Matic, Mata; James, Greenwood, Martial.