Manchester United face arguably their biggest test this Premier League season on Sunday, traveling to Anfield to take on Liverpool in a clash of 1 vs. 2. Manchester United haven’t won at Anfield since Wayne Rooney scored a late goal to win 1-0 in January, 2016. Since then it’s been draws and tough losses, a trend the Red Devils will need to buck if they’re to keep up their hot form.
We’ve asked Mark Kastner, of SB Nation’s The Liverpool Offside site, a few questions to get his view of things ahead of the big game.
Mark also joined us to preview the match on the most recent episode of The Busby Babe Podcast, which you can listen to here, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Here’s the Q&A, a View from the Enemy...
The Busby Babe: It’s been a while since Manchester United vs. Liverpool had implications at the top of the table for both teams. Last year’s match had special meaning for reaffirming Liverpool’s progress under Klopp and their grip on the race for the 19/20 title, do you think that the outcome of this game can give the victor a similar momentum boost with half the schedule remaining?
The Liverpool Offside: I’m sure a victory for Manchester United would give them all the boost they need, but given Liverpool’s recent form, they need a win badly. Usually there’s no need for extra motivation when Liverpool play United, but this is where things are at right now.
TBB: How much do you think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is responsible for the unexpectedly positive start to the season?
TLO: I mean, he is the manager, so at least some responsibility is his! I’ve never been impressed with Ole and I’m still of the mind that United need a serious manager if they want to compete for league titles again, but this run of twelve or so matches has been good for him.
TBB: How do you think injuries, particularly to Van Dijk, have impacted Liverpool this season?
TLO: Losing one of the best players in the world has had a very big impact on the team. Funny enough, Liverpool have been fine defensively since Virgil has been out, but they certainly miss his distribution and leadership.
TBB: Which player from Liverpool’s past would you like to see play in Klopp’s Liverpool team?
TLO: Since we don’t have any healthy centerbacks, I think I’ll go with Sami Hyypiä. A short sighted and unglamourous pick, I know.
TBB: If you could pick any player from this United side to put into this Liverpool team, who would it be and why?
TLO: I’m going to sound like a hypocrite because of the last answer I gave, but I’m certainly not going to pick any of United’s CBs. Bruno Fernandes is the only genuine world class player in United’s side, so I guess I have to pick him? Even then I think Liverpool would have to completely change their style to fit him in.
TBB: Who in Liverpool’s team do you think will give Manchester United the most problems in this match?
TLO: Thiago. United’s midfield apart from Bruno is garbage, and I think if Thiago plays he’ll have the run of the park.
TBB: How do you expect Liverpool to set up on Sunday?
TLO: Alisson; Robertson, Fabinho, Matip, TAA; Henderson, Wijnadulm, Thiago; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
TBB: Finally, what is your prediction for the match?
TLO: Liverpool is going to buck their form and beat United with an empathic 3-1 victory.