Liverpool will be desperate to maintain their position atop the English soccer Premier League table by defeating historical rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday (11am ET).
Liverpool secured a 4-0 win away to Bournemouth last weekend, which, in combination with Manchester City’s loss at Chelsea, saw them take over the league’s leadership as its only undefeated side, with a record of 13 wins and three draws in their 16 matches to date.
That was followed by a 1-0 win at home to Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday which saw Liverpool get the result they needed to progress to the knockout rounds of that competition. There were some tense moments, including a good blocking save from Alisson right at the death, but Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal proved sufficient to see them through.
Salah scored 44 goals in all competitions last season but made a relatively slow start to the current campaign. That has, however, been righted by seven goals in his last seven league starts. After leaning a bit more heavily on their defence in the early weeks of the season, Liverpool’s attack now seems to be ramping up. They have scored three or more goals in four of their last seven in the league.
Jurgen Klopp’s side do, however, still hold the best defensive record in the division, with just six goals conceded to date. Their underlying statistics suggest that is slightly kind on them given the quality of chances they have conceded, but it is nevertheless true that they are vastly improved from the shambolic defensive performances of early last season.
It has been an excellent start by all measures, particularly so in the league, where their points accumulation at this stage represents Liverpool’s best-ever haul – not just in the Premier League era but across their entire 126-year history. It has raised expectations for a serious bid for their first league title since 1990.
The battle for the title of England’s most successful team has always been at the heart of the rivalry between Liverpool and United. Liverpool’s domination of the seventies and eighties gave them a seemingly unassailable lead in terms of league titles, but United’s haul of 13 triumphs in the first 21 seasons of the Premier League saw them catch up and then overtake them. Man Utd now lead the way with 20 top-flight titles to Liverpool’s 18.
But United themselves have now gone five seasons without a Premier League title, a run that will almost certainly continue into a sixth. While Liverpool have started the season superbly, Man Utd’s campaign to date has been one of turmoil and inconsistency. They are already 16 points off the leaders in sixth, eight points shy of even a place in the top four.
Whereas Liverpool are striking an increasingly profitable balance between attack and defence, Man Utd are still yet to find their equilibrium in what is now Jose Mourinho’s third season at the helm. Their attack is decent, but still only the sixth best in the division, and their defence is sixth worst. Until last weekend’s 4-1 win at home to Fulham, they had a negative goal difference.
Passage to the last 16 of the Champions League had already been sealed prior to their 1-2 defeat away to Valencia on Wednesday but there have otherwise been few positives. United are yet to put together more than a couple of consecutive victories in the league, and Mourinho seems no closer to forming a team genuinely capable of challenging for the title. Indeed, they have gone backwards from last season’s second-place finish.
Man Utd have proved themselves capable of spoiling Liverpool in the four matches between the sides since Mourinho’s arrival. Both of the two encounters at Anfield have ended in 0-0 draws, while those at Old Trafford have yielded a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 victory for United.
There does, however, look to be a greater gap in quality between the two sides this season. Liverpool have improved, while Man Utd have regressed, particularly so in defence. Liverpool are therefore the most likely victors in a match that can be expected to feature more goals than the average of recent encounters.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs Man Utd Picks & Predictions Verdict
- Bet on “Liverpool to win and over 2.5 goals” @ +125 (5/4) with Bovada.