Liverpool vs Manchester United prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United
Sunday’s meeting between the two clubs will be the 201st North-West Derby. A rivalry so strong, there has only been 2 transfers between the clubs since the end of World War II; the last of which was nearly 55 years ago.
This has become something of a bogey match for Liverpool. Regardless of form coming into this match, United always find a way to get a result.
Liverpool haven’t defeated United in the league in the last 9 meetings between the two sides; stretching back to the 2013/14 season.
Although, they did pick up a 2-0 victory here in the UEFA Europa League in 2016 which ultimately eliminated United for the tournament. This remains Klopp’s only win over United in 7 attempts.
Klopp’s record against Mourinho is slightly better, with 3 wins, 4 draws and 2 defeats from their 9 encounters. However, he has yet to defeat Mourinho at Manchester United.
His Liverpool come into this fixture with a greater perceived strength over United than any other point during his time here. They are currently 16 points ahead of United; 1 point per game played.
This is the most Liverpool have been ahead of their biggest rival coming into this match in almost 30 years.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: Who will win?
Liverpool are currently on their joint-best Premier League unbeaten run with 17 games. However, they have not defeated United in the Premier League in their last 8 attempts.
This is their longest run without a win against them since the late 80’s. They are the bookies favourites to end that run on Sunday at 4/7.
The last two games between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield have finished 0-0. If you believe Mourinho will successfully take a point back to Manchester on Sunday, the odds are 7/2.
Manchester United are looking to win back-to-back league games at Anfield for only the 6th time in history. The odds of them doing so are 5/1.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: Who will score?
Mohamed Salah has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than any other player this term, with 7. If you believe he will make it 8 against United, the odds are 10/3. Or you can back him to score at any time at 10/11.
Sadio Mané hasn’t scored for Liverpool since his brace against Cardiff in October. He has since gone 748 minutes without a goal. If you believe he will end the drought on Sunday, you can get odds of 7/5; first scorer at 5/1.
Daniel Sturridge has 5 goals in 11 appearances against United. If you believe he will make a scoring return to the side on Sunday, he is 20/21 to do so. Or 7/2 as first scorer.
Juan Mata has 3 goals and 4 assists against Liverpool. He is 6/1 to grab his 4th goal against them on Sunday. 18/1 to do so as first scorer.
Anthony Martial announced his arrival in English football with a goal against Liverpool in a 3-1 win in 2015. Can he announce his return to the United starting XI with a goal at Anfield? He is 11/4 to do so; 9/1 as first scorer.
Marcus Rashford scored both goals in a 2-1 win when the sides last met. You can back him to be first scorer again at 11/1 here. Or 10/3 to score at any time.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: Match preview
In many ways, Jose Mourinho’s United have become tactical kryptonite for Klopp’s Liverpool side.
Klopp has typically wanted to make games against the other top 6 chaotic affairs. A match high in transitions where he feels his side will have the edge. A match where the midfield needs to be constantly running to support the attack, counter-press then support the defence.
The superior fitness and athleticism of his midfield should then see them through against less mobile, more technical or tactical midfields.
Whereas Mourinho has often left him with nothing to counter-press. They will clear or pass the ball early up the pitch and have their attackers play off the likes of Lukaku and Fellaini. They will, in turn, battle for the ball to gain them territory.
Off the ball, they will sit in a low block and shine a light on the lack of creativity and penetration of Liverpool’s central midfield which prevents them from breaking United down.
Why should this be any different?
Firstly, Liverpool have recruited well towards solving several issues they have long had under Klopp. In Fabinho, they now have a #6 who can dominate his zone against target men.
This means the centre backs no longer need to step up the pitch with the likes of Lukaku and challenge him in the air. This, in turn, means they are no longer doing United’s job for them in creating space to attack in the defensive line.
Secondly, in Shaqiri and Keita, they have added two players who can provide that penetration and creativity that they have often sorely lacked against a low block. Shaqiri is adept at playing in between the lines in positions he is hard to pick up, much like Mata has made a career of in English football.
Whereas, Keita’s ability in tight spaces and ability to break through the lines with dribbling and through balls is a valuable addition to the side.
Most importantly of all though, may be the changes for both teams at the back.
The battle of both boxes
As you can see, Liverpool do a great job of restricting teams in completing passes within 20m of their goal. Whereas, Manchester United are allowing deep completions at a rate similar to a side on the edge of a relegation battle.
This all suggests that if Mourinho intends to stay in a low-block once more to prevent Liverpool having space close to goal, there may be gaps now in that defence which were not present in previous seasons.
Liverpool have also invested in a top-tier goalkeeper. Alisson is currently putting up numbers that no other goalkeeper can touch at present.
While, at present, David De Gea’s superhuman last season now appears to be the exception rather than the rule. After 4 straight seasons of saving around 70-72% of the shots he faced, he shot up to over 80% last season. This season, he has regressed back to the usual league average of 67.5%.
As a result, Manchester United have already conceded 26 goals in 16 Premier League games this season. This is just 2 fewer than they conceded in the whole of 2017/18, in 22 fewer games.
Tale of the Tape
The trends over the course of the season are not pretty reading either for Manchester United. They are not improving defensively to reduce the number of times sides get the ball in prime territory (top graph).
If anything, this is getting worse as the season progresses. For Liverpool, they have hovered around 4 all season long; which is elite level.
While as the bottom graph shows, United’s expected goal difference has hovered around or below 0 all season. As exemplified by the fact their goal difference is just +2 after 16 games; mediocre for a side with ambitions of winning trophies.
In contrast, Liverpool’s expected goal difference has remained above +1 for the season suggesting on the balance of chances created, they are doing enough to win almost every game.
Who are the players to watch?
Looking from left to right, you can see that Liverpool’s players are all much more involved in the build-up play for their side. Their defense & midfield all leading the two sides in this respect.
For United, their play is typically more direct as they look to gain territory by quickly playing the ball to Lukaku and then moving up the pitch to add support while he battles to keep possession.
While in the finishing phase, Salah is the standout player on the pitch. He is putting up numbers very few players in the world can match. He is highly involved in everything they do both in terms of the creation and taking of shots.
Only the elites like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and a few others will likely have comparable numbers to this.
Shaqiri, Mané and Firmino are also highly involved. However, you can see there is more a focus on their attacking 4 to put up big numbers in terms of goals & assists than at United.
This also shows that Alexis Sanchez has been highly involved in United’s attacking play while on the pitch. However, he has struggled to turn that involvement into end product for them since his transfer last January.
Ultimately, the massive improvements Liverpool have made in defence, coupled with their individual quality in attack and United’s own struggles at the back all hint that Sunday’s game may be the one which Liverpool finally end their winless run in the Premier League against their biggest rival.
Liverpool team news vs Manchester United
Klopp made 3 changes to the team that won 0-4 at Bournemouth for the midweek tie against Napoli. Shaqiri, Keita & Fabinho were replaced by Alexander-Arnold, Henderson & Mané.
While Liverpool won their crucial Champions’ League group game in midweek, it came at a huge cost. Joel Matip is now out for six weeks with a broken collar bone. Dejan Lovren is expected to take his place in the side.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will also miss the game due to a foot injury with fears it could be a broken metatarsal.
Nathaniel Clyne has returned to training for Liverpool. However, having missed so much football over the past 18 months, it is unlikely he will feature here.
This leaves James Milner looking most likely to start at right-back for the second league game in a row.
Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Fabinho did not start against Napoli. Fabinho, plus one of Shaqiri or Keita, are expected to start in midfield in place of Henderson & Milner.
Joe Gomez, Rhian Brewster and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain remain on the long term injury list for Liverpool.
Manchester United team news vs Liverpool
Alexis Sanchez (Thigh), Victor Lindelof (Thigh) & Chris Smalling (Foot Injury) have already been ruled out due to injury. Marcos Rojo and Scott McTominay are also expected to miss out.
Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia will all have late fitness tests to assess their availability.
Jose Mourinho made 8 changes to the side that won 4-1 against Fulham last weekend for their midweek defeat in Valencia. Only Phil Jones, Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata kept their place in the starting XI.
It is expected he will restore most of those he rested here. Bailly & Shaw replacing the injured Smalling & Dalot are expected to be the only changes.
Predicted Liverpool team vs Manchester United
Predicted Manchester United team vs Liverpool
The latest tweets from Liverpool pre Manchester United
We're back at Anfield on Sunday for #LIVMUN!😁
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) December 14, 2018
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) December 13, 2018
The latest tweets from Manchester United pre Liverpool
A round-up of all the team news ahead of Sunday's match. #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 14, 2018
Jose: "We know we are going to play against a team on a high but we have our own qualities. We are going to have a team capable of going there and fighting for the victory." #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 14, 2018
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 13, 2018
Jesse Lingard features in our early #MUFC team news for Sunday's game against Liverpool 👇
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 12, 2018
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.