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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Liverpool

United can all but kill off Liverpool’s Champions League hopes with a win this weekend

Manchester United Training Session Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:

(1) Manchester United enter this weekend’s domestic grudge match off the back of Thursday’s epic win over AS Roma. The Italian visitors struck for two away goals in the first half to briefly put the Reds on the ropes, but five second-half goals flipped the script and left Roma reeling. Now, United are pretty much booked for the Europa League final ahead of next week’s trip to the Stadio Olimpico.

(2) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his side’s second-half explosion:

That was exhilarating [and] absolutely how we want to look. That’s how we want to look like — fullbacks going forward, front four combining, center backs playing out from the back, two midfielders patrolling there. An absolutely excellent performance.

(3) An Edinson Cavani update:

(4) Liverpool are not exactly making the most of their title defense. Last season’s runaway winners now find themselves four points off the final Champions League spot and face the very real possibility of Thursday nights in the Europa League.

(5) On Saturday, Liverpool collapsed at the death in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle. Mohamed Salah fired them into an early lead in the 3rd minute, but Liverpool then spent the rest of the match squandering gilt-edged chances to kill off the game. That’s been a recurring problem for them this season.

(6) Liverpool’s front three, so ruthless in front of goal over the past few seasons, are some ways off their best. Salah has scored 29 goals — 16 more than any other Liverpool player — but has let his club down with some glaring misses in big games. That’s still better than Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, though, who are both in massive slumps.

(7) Klopp on his misfiring forward line:

I see [it], you see the same, in these moments we miss chances. In the moment, it feels really close to being unacceptable, but we have to accept it anyway — when you miss chances, that’s just information. A missed chance is just a piece of information. It means you came into the right space, you could cause them problems, so do it again. If you need a little adaptation, then do it, but get there again in the right situation. No drop off in body language is allowed — you just have to go, go again.

(8) Against Newcastle, Klopp tried to shake things up by starting Diogo Jota alongside the other three forwards. Fans have been clamoring for this lineup all season long, but it has never quite clicked in practice. Even with four of the better attackers in the Premier League on the pitch at the same time, Liverpool still struggled to break down relegation-threatened Newcastle, who have one of the worst defensive records in the league.

(9) To be fair, there have been a lot of injuries. Virgil Van Dijk went down early on with a serious knee injury and Joe Gomez picked up a similar knock in November while with England. Both are out for the season, leaving Liverpool’s backline severely stretched. It’s gotten even worse as Joel Matip suffered a season-ending ankle injury and Nat Phillips has bounced in and out of the lineup with injuries. Then, in February, captain Jordan Henderson hurt his groin in the Merseyside derby and has not played since.

(10) Thrust into the lineup because of the rash of defensive injuries, 21-year-old Ozan Kabak (on loan from Schalke) has made a big impression:

(11) Some happy reading: Liverpool have never won at Old Trafford under Jurgen Klopp. If that doesn’t change on Sunday, Liverpool will likely find themselves on the outside looking in on next season’s Champions League.