How times can change. Liverpool is the modern club, with a modern approach to football and the market. In Manchester, time has stopped for too long and now they are behind in their club structure and philosophy. Who would have predicted this 7 years ago would have been rich today. Today is another day for predictions!
But what is there to possibly predict when a team is 22-1-0 in the Premier League? Well for starters, the only spilling of points from Liverpool this season was on 20 oktober against Manchester United. That is a big deal and something the Mancunians will cling on to. This time around it isn’t Old Trafford though, it’s Anfield. Winning here is close to impossible, something that is also reflected in the odds. But close to impossible and actually impossible is a big difference. So where do the chances lie for the Red Devils?
Manchester Counter tactics?
Against Manchester City, United was quite successful in their counterattack strategy. But that was made possible due to City lacking speed behind. Although the defenders of Liverpool are high on the pitch and there should be the possibility for a Manchester United outbreak on the flanks going deep, there is no lacking of speed in Liverpool. This will likely be the tactic that Ole will use, since try to beat Liverpool by going forward is a death sentence.
Liverpool is chasing Arsenal’s record of being unbeaten in 49 matches in a row. The team that ended it back then was Manchester United. Also the tension between these clubs is always on Thor level; if any team is driven to beat Liverpool, it has to be Manchester United.
The deeper dive
Mane Firmino and Salah have such ball control that they are lethal as a trio coming into small spaces, forcing the defence of the opponents to tighten up before the goal. This leaves room at the sides for Robertson and Trent to come up from the sides and give a crossing into the box. With the defenders clocking up on the box to prevent this crossing from reaching a striker, it gives room for Henderson Fabinho and Wijnaldum to advance for a lethal shot.
The clue to beat this effective system of Liverpool lies for Manchester United lies in their previous encounter. Ole started off in a 3-4-1-2 formation, that could transform into a 5-3-2 when Robertson and Trent came up from the sides. By doing so, Manchester man marks every player from Liverpool. This also means that James and Rashford stayed with Matip and van Dijk, always ready for the counter and running into spaces on the sides as soon as the ball got picked up in the back. This is the story of the first half though, the second half Klopp played with 6 attackers. Forcing United into a 5-4-1 and leaving Rashford alone versus Van Dijk and Matip.
Both teams have learned a lot from previous encounters and it will be interesting to see which coach outsmarts the other. Having said that, who after 22 PL wins dares to bet against the oiled machine that is Liverpool?