Two teams in contrasting form square off when Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday (13:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Man Utd extended their winning streak to five matches with a 2-1 victory away to Southampton on Monday. The result saw them move ahead of the Saints into third in the Premier League table, with 28 points from eight wins, four draws and three defeats.
Louis van Gaal’s side were outplayed and comfortably outshot but still came away with all three points thanks to two superb individual performances at either end of the pitch. David de Gea (pictured) produced some excellent saves to keep Southampton at bay, while Robin Van Persie provided two clinical finishes to convert two of United’s three shots into goals.
It was not the first time in recent weeks that Van Gaal’s side have failed to produce a convincing performance. Nor, indeed, was it was the first occasion on which De Gea has bailed out their perennially leaky defence by making some top quality saves. But one way or another, the victories keep coming and Man Utd continue to climb the table.
Injuries remain a major concern for Van Gaal and his staff, particularly as a number of those picked up by United players so far this season have been muscle injuries of a similar type. There are also still some problems in defence. But the Dutchman seems to have sufficient firepower at his disposal to keep United in the hunt while these issues are being sorted out.
Van Gaal will be without the injured Chris Smalling (groin), Daley Blind (knee), Luke Shaw (ankle) and Phil Jones (shin) for this match against Liverpool, while Rafael (muscle) is doubtful. Angel Di Maria (hamstring) is expected to return.
Liverpool come into the match on the back of being eliminated from the Champions League in midweek. Things have not gone much better for them domestically and they are just ninth in the Premier League table, with 21 points from six wins, three draws and six defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side lacked energy, invention and intensity in the first half of their must-win match at home to Basel on Tuesday and deservedly went in one goal down at the break. Steven Gerrard gave them hope with a superbly executed free-kick, but Liverpool, by then reduced to 10 men following Lazar Markovic’s dismissal, were unable to force another goal.
It was the latest setback in what has been a difficult season for Rodgers and his side. They have already lost as many league matches as they did in the entirety of the last campaign and look a million miles away from the swashbuckling attacking side who pushed Manchester City so close in last season’s title race.
Liverpool are scoring over a goal per match less than they did last season, while conceding at a similar rate. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge provided 52 league goals between them last season. With the former departed and the latter having spent the majority of the current campaign on the treatment table, Liverpool are far less of an attacking threat.
Rodgers is without the injured Sturridge (thigh), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Suso (groin) for the short trip to Manchester, while Mario Balotelli (groin) is doubtful. Kolo Toure (groin) is expected to return.
Man Utd v Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
Liverpool were comfortable 3-0 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture, with Steven Gerrard scoring twice from the penalty spot. They also won 1-0 at Anfield but did fall to a 1-0 away defeat to United in the Capital One Cup. United have won eight of the last 10 league meetings between the sides at Old Trafford, with Liverpool winning the other two.
Man Utd are not producing particularly convincing performances but a run of five consecutive victories means that they come into this match against their greatest historical rivals in good form. There are still issues to be resolved, but they will fancy their chances of taking all three points against a Liverpool side who have been very under par so far this season.
Liverpool’s confidence was dealt a further blow by their early exit from the Champions League in midweek. Rodgers has a lot of work to do if he hopes to rebuild their season and begin a push for a top four finish. His side are too static in attack and still concede too many avoidable goals.
United are not firing on all cylinders themselves but should have enough firepower to overcome their under-performing visitors on Sunday.
- Back Manchester United to win @ best odds of 17/20 with William Hill or BetVictor.
- There have been three or more goals in each of the last seven league meetings between these sides at Old Trafford. Six of Man Utd’s eight home matches this season have seen three or more goals, as have six of Liverpool’s seven away matches. Back over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 5/6 with BetVictor or Betfair Sportsbook.