Back. On. Top. After 40 months, the most dominant side in the history of the Premier League have returned to the competition’s summit. With their midweek win over Burnley, Manchester United leapfrogged Liverpool and moved three points clear of their great rivals.
That, of course, has set the scene perfectly for a super Sunday in the Premier League. This weekend, the new league leaders travel to Anfield for a HUGE game of football. This classic rivalry always has the potential to be pretty tasty, but the stakes haven’t been this high for some time.
During the Sir Alex Ferguson years, Liverpool were never consistently in contention for the title. As for Liverpool, it’s been the blue half of Manchester they’ve had to contend with in recent years. But now, it’s the red corner against the red corner in the battle for Premier League supremacy.
Rewind a couple of months, and you’d have been mocked for suggesting that this meeting would take on so much importance. Although only seven games in, Man Utd had just lost to Arsenal, they were 15th in the table and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position was being questioned by fans and pundits alike. Liverpool weren’t firing on all cylinders, but the reigning champions were top – and a second successive title was looking ominous.
But in this strange season, things have turned around sharpish. Liverpool are stuttering – without a goal in 258 minutes, and that came in a 1-1 draw with lowly West Brom. They failed to break down Newcastle and then fell victim to a goal from former forward Danny Ings in a 1-0 loss to Southampton. A respite came in the FA Cup – but they made hard work of beating Aston Villa’s under-18 side.
Much has been said of Liverpool’s injury crisis and it’s certainly a fair point. Against the Saints, the champions’ centre-back pairing consisted of midfield generals Fabinho and Jordan Henderson. Youngsters like Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have been called upon this season, but they’re far from the finished article and neither have looked like they’re quite ready to deal with United’s devastating counter-attacking ability.
Diogo Jota is another who fell foul to injury following a stunning start to life at Anfield, but Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are more than capable of putting most Premier League teams to bed. But the chances aren’t coming and when they do, they’re not being taken. Jurgen Klopp needs to find answers and he needs to find them now.
Man Utd on the other hand have gone from strength to strength, putting aside the disappointment of an early Champions League exit and embarking on a run of form to rival what they did at the back end of last season.
Bruno Fernandes has been the catalyst, but other players are doing their bit too. Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba – even Scott McTominay – are digging deep to get the Red Devils over the line. They haven’t been that convincing, but they are finding ways to win games of football. Since that loss to the Gunners, United have played 11, won nine, drawn two. After their Anfield visit, it’s Fulham and Sheffield United. A win on Merseyside could be seismic.
Liverpool v Man Utd with Grosvenor Sport
Grosvenor Sport go with Liverpool – unbeaten at home – as narrow favourites (49/50). Man Utd, yet to lose on the road this season, are 13/5 with 14/5 available on the draw – while expectations lean towards an entertaining encounter. Over 2.5 goals is 4/6 at the time of writing.
However, Liverpool’s goal drought, combined with the fact that Man Utd have ground out three 1-0 wins in their last five games, suggest the unders might be an appealing play. Man City and Chelsea boast formidable forward lines and both were kept out by Solskjaer’s side – and there’s only been three goals or more in two of the last 11 meetings between the pair. Under 2.5 goals is 6/5 with Grosvenor Sport.
And one last thing to look at is a very sore subject, especially for Jurgen Klopp… penalties. Klopp rather bizarrely brought up United’s recent penalty record after the Southampton defeat, and you wouldn’t rule out a spot-kick being awarded here. Both sets of attackers certainly have the edge over their defensive opposition and if you factor in the generosity of VAR, the 3/1 on Liverpool and 4/1 on Man Utd to be awarded a penalty look tempting.
Hopefully the game lives up to its billing but regardless, we’re lucky to have England’s two most historic clubs and two great rivals battling it out at the top of English football once again.
Bring. It. On.
Liverpool v Man Utd is one of nine Premier League matches in Gameweek 19 of Million Pound Picks, Grosvenor Sport’s weekly free-to-play game where you can win £1,000,000, £2,000 or a £10 Free Bet.
*Stated odds correct at time of writing