Manchester United will hope to dent the title ambitions of long-time rivals Liverpool when the two sides meet at Old Trafford on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
United come into the match on the back of two consecutive away wins that have seen them ascend to sixth in the Premier League table with 48 points from 14 wins, six draws and eight defeats, five points shy of Tottenham Hotspur in fifth but with a game in hand.
It is questionable whether two wins against relegation candidates, the most recent a comfortable victory away to West Bromwich Albion last weekend, provides sufficient evidence of a turnaround in form – particularly as an away Champions League defeat to Olympiakos was sandwiched between them – but David Moyes will certainly hope so.
Moyes has endured a difficult first season at Man Utd, something he himself admitted in an open letter to the club’s supporters last week, but if he can formulate a game plan that involves Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney receiving the ball in central areas, as they did on a semi-regular basis last weekend, United will carry a strong goal threat.
Defence is more problematic. Injuries have prevented Moyes from selecting a regular back four, while a lightweight midfield have proved ineffective in protecting the defence. The latter problem was plain to see against Olympiakos, who through the direct dribbling of Alejandro Dominguez were regularly able to break through midfield and get at the United defence.
Moyes will definitely be without the injured Johnny Evans (calf) for this match, while Javier Hernandez (knee) and Nani (hamstring) are both unlikely to take part. Rafael (ankle), who was substituted in last weekend’s win over West Brom, will face a late fitness test.
Liverpool come into Sunday’s match on the back of four consecutive league victories. They are undefeated in their last nine in the league and are second in the table, seven points behind leaders Chelsea but with a game in hand, with 59 points from 18 wins, five draws and five defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ (pictured above) side emerged victorious from a tricky trip to Southampton in their last match, soaking up considerable pressure from their hosts and striking quickly and incisively on the counter attack with goals inside the first twenty minutes of each half from Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling. Steven Gerrard added a late third from the penalty spot.
The match provided further illustration of Liverpool’s supreme potency in attack, which sees them ranked second in the league in goal scoring at a rate of 2.61 goals per match. They have scored three or more in each of their last four league matches and with a number of quick, inventive and in-form attackers seem well placed to continue at that pace.
The number of players Liverpool commit to attack does have a detrimental effect at the other end of the pitch, with the clean sheet against Southampton just their fourth in their last 15 matches. It has proved a worthy compromise so far, with Liverpool boasting the second best goal difference in the league, but is an area opposing teams can and will look to exploit.
Jose Enrique (knee) is Liverpool’s only confirmed injury absentee for Sunday’s match, although the match also looks likely to come a week too soon for Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and Lucas Leiva (knee).
Man Utd v Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
Liverpool won 1-0 through an early goal from Sturridge when these sides met at Anfield earlier this season, but Man Utd were victories when they met in the Capital One Cup in late-September and won both league fixtures last season. Man Utd have won the last six and nine of the last 10 meetings at Old Trafford.
Despite recent league successes, United are still in the midst of a patchy run of form that has seen them win four, lose four and draw two of their last 10 matches in all competitions. We would expect Moyes to adopt a relatively cautious approach on Sunday, similar to that seen in their home matches against Chelsea (0-0) and Arsenal (1-0).
Liverpool, by contrast, have performed superbly since the turn of the year. They will be confident of securing a good result, particularly as Man Utd struggle to deal with teams who attack them directly with pace. It will be a tightly contested match, but we fancy Liverpool to come away from Old Trafford with at least a draw.
- Back Liverpool on the draw no bet market @ best odds of 11/10 with BetVictor. The bet pays out if Liverpool win and your stake is returned if the match ends in a draw
- Liverpool have scored in 26 of their 28 league matches to date, with Sturridge or Suarez scoring the team’s first goal in 15 of those 26. With this in mind, we suggest splitting a stake on Liverpool’s first scorer on Sunday. Back Daniel Sturridge to score Liverpool’s first goal @ 11/4 with SkyBet and also back Luis Suarez to score Liverpool’s first goal @ 5/2, again with SkyBet. You will profit if either of them score Liverpool’s first goal.