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Nine reasons why Liverpool can beat Manchester United



First plays 12th at Old Trafford on Sunday as Liverpool take on their bitter rivals Man United.

The showdown between the two north west giants is always a huge game. And it feels like there is even more riding on this one than usual.

Jurgen Klopp's side is looking to maintain their eight-point lead over Man City at the top of the Premier League table, while beleaguered boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping to kick start his campaign with a statement victory.

The bookies may make the visitors favorites but anything can happen in this one, as supporters of both teams know.

The Manchester Evening News on Wednesday published an article titled "Nine reasons why Manchester United can beat Liverpool FC".

It makes many reasonable points and of course the United win is a distinct possibility on Sunday.

But what about the opposite perspective? We've taken a look at each of the MEN's arguments to see if they tell the whole story ahead of the crunch clash.

1) The Old Trafford Factor?

"Liverpool have just won at Old Trafford this decade" states the MEN. It's a plain fact and there can be in the debate about that.

But when there was arguably last this kind of gulf between the two clubs, back in 2013/14, Liverpool went there and won 3-0.

Granted, the Reds were awarded three penalties and scored two. But they peppered the United goal with 18 shots and seven on target. Liverpool saw more of the ball, dominated the match and were worthy winners.

It's also fair to say that several of the encounters in recent years have seen a more negative, restrictive approach from United under Jose Mourinho – and that was also the case last season under Solskjaer in the drab 0-0, with the caveat of an injury -ravaged first half in which the home side had to make three changes.

Old Trafford is undoubtedly a factor and the crowd can make an impact. But in a very rare occurrence, Liverpool are odds-on favorites with the bookies to claim all three points. And for good reason.

2) The 'derby' factor?

Again, it's a fair point to claim form goes out of the window in these type of fixtures. It absolutely can. As the MEN say, it is the kind of encounter which can see "emotions run high, composer lost and complacency play a part".

But Liverpool have won 17 Premier League games in a row and this squad appears to be made of very stern stuff.

The exacting standards of keeping pace with Man City have been a factor throughout that run, so pressure is nothing new to them.

And in terms of who might be feeling it the most at the moment … Solskjaer is currently the second favorite to be the next top-flight manager sacked.

3) Mo Salah?

Liverpool celebrate against Salzburg

The MEN rightly point out Salah picked up an ankle knock in the 2-1 win against Leicester City and had to be taken off. They also reflect on his record against United, which stands at zero goals in four matches.

Two fair points. But Salah has just had the entire international break off to recover.

And he has started the season in much better form than many observers are giving him credit for, with six goals and three assists in 12 games.

His two strikes against RB Salzburg at the start of the month show that he is always a threat even in matches where he otherwise does not sparkle.

4) Solid defense?

The MEN state: "Statistically, United has the best defense in the Premier League this season, based on xG stats in terms of chances awarded."

And with several stars potentially returning – including Aaron Wan-Bissaka – United's backline could be bolstered even further.

But the MEN claim Liverpool have "struggled" to break down resolute defenses this season and goals could be an issue at Old Trafford.

They cite Leicester, Napoli and Sheffield United as troublesome games. On the face of it, a solid argument.

But if we're going on xG, Liverpool recorded a figure of around 3.5 against Leicester, almost 2 against Sheffield United and just shy of 1 against Napoli.

In each of those games then, enough chances were created to score approximately one more goal than Liverpool managed. It's clearly a positive sign overall if the Reds keep up a high level of chance creation. And Kopites will be hoping that the conversion rate jumps up on Sunday.

5) Klopp's record?

Jurgen Klopp with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Jurgen Klopp with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

"Last season's 3-1 win at Anfield was just Klopp's second triumph over United in nine attempts," say the MEN. Again, the fact that can't be disputed.

But circumstances can change and managers can too.

Klopp's record in cup finals was perhaps becoming a bit of a worry, but the German answered that emphatically in Madrid back in June as the Reds lifted the Champions League.

Liverpool's squad has improved season by season and is a very different proposition now to when Klopp took on United in his earlier days at Anfield.

6) A game to suit United?

The MEN argue: "It's fair to say the game may well unfold to suit Solskjaer's preferred approach – on the counter-attack."

Solskjaer himself said this could be the 'perfect' game for his side to try and bounce back.

There is some merit to that perspective, but our tactics writer Josh Williams has taken a detailed look into this one and arrived at a slightly different conclusion.

Josh writes: "There is not much to be fearful of when analyzing the current United team, but their counter-attacking threat shouldn't be underestimated, particularly if certain players are able to return from injury before the clash.

"Overall, it's reasonable to suggest that if Liverpool can prevent counters from materializing, they will effectively prevent United as a whole considering their lackluster possession game – and the fact they haven't scored from a set-piece in the Premier League since February.

"Solskjaer may have a point in deeming Liverpool as the 'perfect' opponent to face. But the Reds have enough at their disposal to make the Norwegian eat his words."

7) Pogba?

Manchester United star Paul Pogba
Manchester United star Paul Pogba

The MEN contends that Pogba is "a big-game player and undoubtedly the most talented footballer in United's squad".

No arguments there. He could well make the difference on Sunday. But will he be returning at full fitness?

And there is the lingering concern that for all Pogba may contribute in attack, he may be guilty of leaving holes in the midfield and his effectiveness may be contained.

While there is debate he is a potential matchwinner for United, he could also represent an opportunity to exploit for Liverpool.

8) Weakness in Liverpool's defense?

"Liverpool might be eight points clear at the Premier League summit after eight games, but it's fair to say their defense has flattered to deceive at times this term."

With only six goals awarded so far in the league, less than any other team, the Reds may contest that assertion.

And on Sunday, Klopp may be able to call upon his full 'first choice' team and backline for the first time this campaign.

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9) Rustiness in goal

The MEN write: "The expected return of Alisson in the Liverpool goal seems like a boost for Klopp's men, but there's every chance the Brazilian's return could actually have a destabilizing effect on his team-mates."

Perhaps a reasonable suggestion given it will be Alisson's first game since he was injured in the opening match of the league campaign against Norwich.

But the Brazilian has apparently been well looked after at Melwood. As the ECHO reported this week, he returned to full training earlier in the month and has spent extra time during the international break working with goalkeeping coach John Achterberg.

And given Adrian has been impressive while deputizing, it is not a decision Klopp would have taken lightly if he does opt to bring Alisson back into the fold at the weekend.


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