Liverpool v Man Utd: Goals could be scarce in battle of the Reds

Mourinho may be content to take a point
Mourinho may be content to take a point
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Liverpool and Manchester United may struggle to serve up goals in Saturday lunchtime's showdown at Anfield, says Dave Tindall...

"Since Klopp took charge of Liverpool, all five games against Man Utd have featured under 2.5 goals and Mourinho being the away manager only adds further confidence."

2pts Under 2.5 Goals at [1.95]

Liverpool v Man Utd
Saturday, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Hosts hurt by Mane loss

In some ways, Liverpool have been hard to predict this season, thrashing Arsenal one week, capitulating against Man City the next and failing to put teams away whilst dominating possession and chances.

And yet, simplifying it down, they've basically beaten teams who've given them space (Arsenal, Hoffenheim, Leicester) and struggled against those who haven't.

Without doubt, Man Utd will fall into the latter category on Saturday and Jurgen Klopp hasn't really come up with solutions to beat sides who want to stand back and jab rather than come forward to throw punches themselves.

One win in seven is the grim reality for the Reds. A more positive spin is that they've lost just twice this season - once when reduced to 10 men and the other when playing a reserve team in the League Cup.

Without doubt though, Sadio Mane's loss to injury is a huge blow, not just in perception but also in reality.

They average 2.1 points with the Senegalese speedster in the team and just 1.7 without and his impact shows up in goals scored too - 2.2 with Mane and 1.6 without.

Mourinho likely to stick to script

With nine wins out of 10 in all competitions this season (I'm not counting the Super Cup), Jose Mourinho has kicked this Man Utd side on dramatically - just as he said he would.

The strength in defence remains but the midfield is brighter and the attack so much sharper after the arrival of Romelu Lukaku.

Seven of United's wins have been achieved with clean sheets and they've averaged 3.2 goals per game since starting with a 4-0 cruise over West Ham.

It's hard to expose too many weaknesses although they were held 2-2 at Stoke after taking the lead and considered somewhat fortunate to emerge with a 1-0 win at Southampton.

In other words, while fairly ruthless at Old Trafford, life on the road has been more testing.

While Mane's absence is a big loss for Liverpool, let's not forget that United must do without key midfield duo Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini.

Ironically, it's Fellaini who United will probably miss more on Saturday as Mourinho would have used the big Belgian's physicality to ruffle the Liverpool defence at every opportunity.

It's a pick 'em

There may be minor movements nearer kick-off but, right now, the two teams can't be split. It's Liverpool at [2.84] and Man Utd at [2.84].

The draw is the outsider of the three options at [3.35].

Both Premier League fixtures last year were draws and, adding in the Europa League 1-1 at Old Trafford in May 2016, means the last three duels have all ended in stalemate.

By contrast, the previous 12 head-to-heads had all produced a positive outcome, with Man Utd winning eight to Liverpool's four.

Klopp v Mourinho? Perhaps a little surprisingly, Klopp has lost just one of seven competitive meetings, winning three and drawing three.

I was initially leaning towards United here but both sides may not be as fluid as usual after the international break.

United were unusually sloppy when returning to action with that 2-2 draw at Stoke after the last one and, all things considered, a draw is no bad result for the visitors.

Will Mourinho really risk defeat and charge forward for the win if the game is deadlocked with 10 to 15 minutes left?

A draw is by no means satisfactory for Liverpool either but they've had to settle for four in their last six and aren't sharp enough at either end at the moment to be backed with any confidence to win the game.

Goals could be scarce

With United riding high at the top of the Premier League, there's a feeling that Mourinho could turn up the attacking heat this time after basically playing for a 0-0 at Anfield last season.

But I'd be very surprised if we don't see his classic, big-game approach.

Mourinho knows the blue-print to stifle this Liverpool team so will tell his side to set out their stall early, wait patiently for an opening and then nick something on the break or from a set-piece.

The two options were trading at the same price when the market was first formed but, quite correctly I think, Unders is now favourite at [1.95] and Overs the [2.02] outsider.

Since Klopp took charge of Liverpool, all five games against Man Utd have featured under 2.5 goals and Mourinho being the away manager only adds further confidence.

As does the loss of Mane and, yes, Fellaini too while the late returns of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino from South America suggests the Brazilians may not be as slick as usual.

Salah threat

The lack of expected goals means I'm not rushing out to play the scorer markets.

There are some tempting prices though. Coutinho has three in three since getting back to full speed and [4.2] for another is appealing.

Mo Salah is on a high after his two goals sent Egypt to their first World Cup finals since 1990 and he's scored in his last four Anfield appearances. He's [3.55] for another.

For the visitors, Romelu Lukaku will attract plenty of money at [2.54] having started his United career by going on a scoring spree.

Add in his starts for Belgium and he's scored in 12 of his 13 games this season. Remarkable figures.

Enthusiasm is dimmed a little by the fact that he's netted just once in his last seven matches against Liverpool although that was in the blue of Everton of course.

Ref watch

Martin Atkinson gets the nod for this one and he's not exactly a popular figure on Merseyside.

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard once admitted: "I can't stand him." Why? A big reason is that Atkinson was the ref who sent Gerrard off at Anfield in this fixture in 2015 - just 38 seconds after the skipper had come on as sub.

A more logical reason for LFC fans to turn their noses up at his appointment? Liverpool have lost three out of three against United when Atkinson has taken charge and, overall, they've managed just six wins in 16 fixtures with him as ref.

Opta Stat

If Manchester United win this game, it'll be their best ever points tally after eight games of a Premier League season (22), following 20-point hauls in both 2011-12 and 1999-00.

Recommended Bets

2pts Under 2.5 Goals at [1.95]
1pt Draw at [3.35]

Dave Tindall's P/L, 2017/18

Staked: 21.5pts
Returned: 15.8pts
P/L: -5.7pts

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