A visit to face Liverpool at Anfield is never a comfortable experience for Manchester United, but particularly so now. Jurgen Klopp has guided his unbeaten side to the top of the Premier League table while still building momentum. Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, has once again slated his own players amid yet another lacklustre performance. This analysis will break down the key statistics surrounding the 201st clash between the two sides.
Injuries have hit both clubs badly, especially in defence. United didn’t take Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian or Diogo Dalot to Valencia. All of them, as well as forwards Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial, were confirmed as injured. David De Gea and Nemanja Matic were rested, so will be fully prepared for Sunday.
Liverpool for their part have a minor defensive crisis too. Joel Matip suffered a fractured collarbone, while the impressive Joe Gomez is out already. Dejan Lovren will start for the hosts alongside Virgil van Dijk, but Trent Alexander-Arnold will also be absent.
Jose Mourinho boasts an impressive personal record of never having lost to Jurgen Klopp in league matches.
“We got two positive results in Liverpool last season, we beat them at home, we didn’t lose any match against them in four I think but that was the past, so Sunday has nothing to do with what happened in the past so I have to focus not on what happened, not on the credit we were given or no.”
Liverpool have made the third-best start to a Premier League season ever, while their North-West neighbours lag a massive 16 points behind. Klopp had more concern for his injury list though.
“It’s not top class news, that’s clear… As long as we have enough fit players, it’s my job, our job, to find a solution for it. [In United’s team] there’s a lot of quality, a lot of speed, a lot of technique. We don’t judge the points they have, we judge the quality they have, and we prepare for that.”
Liverpool: W5, L1 GF: 13 GA: 2
Manchester United: W2, D2, L2 GF: 10 GA: 7
Manchester United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games in all competitions. David De Gea’s seeming invincibility is gradually starting to slip as he struggles to prop up a calamitous defence. They have conceded in their last seven away matches overall, letting in seven in the last three alone.
Liverpool may have only just squeezed home past Napoli by the finest of margins midweek, but they are flying. One curious element of their attack is Roberto Firmino. Although the Brazilian has never been seen as prolific – a lazy myth – he has scored just three times in three months for club and country. By way of comparison, Romelu Lukaku has managed four.
Head-to-head league record
Liverpool wins: 55
Manchester United wins: 68
Manchester United’s good recent form can be extrapolated from their all-time record. In particular, their recent record at Anfield is impressive, having not lost in the last four. In fact, If Liverpool fail to win, it will stretch the overall winless run to nine matches, the longest such run ever.
For all the blood and thunder the rivalry conjures up, four of the last meetings have been draws. Liverpool themselves have failed to score in three of their last four meetings at Anfield. Of the last 18 clashes, only four have been decided by margin greater than a single goal.
- Despite scoring almost twice as many goals so far (24 to 13), Liverpool have only registered marginally more shots per game (14.6 to 13.1)
- Manchester United have recorded 18.8 successful aerial duels per match, as opposed to Liverpool’s 14.6.
- Manchester United have lost possession on average two times fewer than Liverpool per match
- Liverpool play over 100 more passes per game than Manchester United
It depends which statistics you choose to trust, but Liverpool are strong favourites to win on Sunday. Their composure, team identity, attacking threat and home advantage all point in their favour. There is a slightly unfamiliar sense of Liverpool being the team to beat though, as opposed to a level playing field. If Mourinho will ever thrive, it is in upsetting the form book in the bear pit of his team’s bitter rivals.
The game might be decided on who turns up fit on the day, but on balance United have a very tough task.
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