If Liverpool are to take advantage of their game in hand to jump ahead of Manchester City back to the summit of the Premier League soccer table, they need to take at least a point away to historical rivals Manchester United on Sunday (9.05am ET).
Liverpool have dropped points in three of their last six league fixtures, which has allowed Man City to move ahead of them on goal difference on the back of six wins in their seven fixtures in that time, including a 2-1 win over Liverpool in their first match of the new calendar year.
A fixture away to a resurgent Man Utd isn’t exactly the game in hand that Liverpool would have wanted, but United are also in quite a strange position. Win, and their local rivals City legitimately become the league leaders. Lose, and their long-standing rivals for the title of England’s most successful club move a step closer to their first league title since 1991.
Not that it is a choice they really have to make. Man Utd are also fighting hard for league position, in their case to see off Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for fourth place and the spot in next season’s Champions League that it affords. They moved to the head of that group with a 3-0 win over Fulham a couple of weeks back. Now, they want to hold onto it.
It says much for the improvement United have made since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took interim charge in mid-December that they are even in that race, let alone at its head. In that time, they have taken a league-high 25 points. That is nine more than Arsenal and 12 more than Chelsea. They have also made progress to the last eight of the FA Cup after knocking out both of their challengers for fourth place.
The second of those triumphs came on Monday in a 2-0 win away to Chelsea. Paul Pogba moved forward and crossed for Ander Herrera to finish for the opener on the half hour. It was Pogba himself who added the second on the stroke of half-time, releasing Marcus Rashford down the right and then getting into the area to head in his excellent delivery.
Previous optimism at results under Solskjaer’s tenure were somewhat tempered by the relative ease of the fixture list he had encountered since taking over. United’s home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie made some of their limitations clear. Solskjaer can now point to victories over Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as evidence that he and his side are more than just flat-track bullies.
There is even likely to be a solid amount of confidence within their ranks that they will be capable of securing a positive result against Liverpool on Sunday. Liverpool were comfortable 3-1 victors when the side met at Anfield this season, but that was with Jose Mourinho still on the United bench. Liverpool’s last win in the league at Old Trafford came in 2014. Since, United have secured three wins and a draw.
It also feels as if Liverpool have begun to stutter a bit since the turn of the calendar year. The number of goals they have conceded has started to fall a little more in line with what underlying statistics suggested was realistic, while over the admittedly limited sample of their six matches in 2019 to date, their underlying offensive numbers have also declined a smidgen.
A 0-0 draw at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter represented the fifth time in their last eight matches in all competitions that Liverpool have failed to record victory. The performance was, though, a little more encouraging. Jurgen Klopp’s side created the better chances and even with a makeshift central defensive pairing, still prevented their visitors from making any progress of note.
It is also true that to varying degrees, every team goes through peaks and troughs in terms of performances over the course of a campaign, and that Liverpool remain a very strong team at both ends of the pitch. City, too, have had some difficult spells this season, and with 11 matches apiece still to play after this weekend’s fixtures, the title race is still likely to feature at least a couple more twists and turns yet.
Our Betting Preview’s Man Utd vs Liverpool Picks & Predictions Verdict
It is very difficult to call the outcome on Sunday. Liverpool are still the better side overall, but Man Utd’s strong recent form, their good record in this fixture in recent years and their extra day of rest this week give them the marginal edge. Here is our Man Utd vs Liverpool prediction and pick against the American odds setters for this match:
- Bet on Manchester United to win @ best odds of +210 (that’s over 2/1) with Bovada.