Manchester United v Liverpool: Reds can avoid defeat in crunch clash
Old rivals Manchester United and Liverpool lock horns for a Super Sunday showdown from Old Trafford. Mark O'Haire thinks the Jurgen Klopp's men can take something away from the entertaining encounter.
"All four of Liverpool’s trips to the Big Six this season have delivered BTTS profit, as have 12 of their 14 games as guests at the Premier League’s elite since the start of 2016/17"
Manchester United v Liverpool
Sunday February 24, 14:05
Live on Sky Sports
United back on track
Manchester United delivered the perfect response to their first defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last Monday night when deservedly overcoming Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to set up an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Wolves. Ander Herrera converted Paul Pogba's cross to give United a 31st-minute lead and Pogba doubled the advantage right on half-time.
Despite the absence of injured forwards Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial, the Red Devils produced a positive gameplan based around aggression, the drive of Pogba and the pace of Marcus Rashford. It enabled United to overcome their second tough test in the capital after winning at Arsenal in the fourth round, and kept Solskjaer right in the hunt for silverware.
Reports suggest injuries suffered by Lingard and Martial are not as serious as first thought and both could return in time to feature on Sunday. Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku are likely to drop out of the first XI should the duo be fit enough to start with Alexis Sanchez still bound to the bench. Elsewhere, David De Gea will return between the sticks.
Liverpool misfire in midweek
A lack of composure in the final-third saw a misfiring Liverpool play out a potentially damaging 0-0 home draw with Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night. The Reds posed the greater threat throughout but were either wasteful in front of goal or kept out by Bayern's well-marshalled defence at Anfield as the game ended goalless.
Sadio Mane missed a handful of first-half chances, most notably dragging a shot wide from inside the area when unmarked, whilst Joel Matip failed to convert Roberto Firmino's cross from six yards. Jurgen Klopp's charges failed to create any major opportunities of note after the interval, with Mane's 85th-minute header the closest Liverpool came to scoring.
The Merseysiders will welcome talismanic centre-half Virgil van Dijk back from suspension, whilst fellow defender Dejan Lovren could also be in contention in what's expected to be relatively few changes to the side that faced Bayern. Naby Keita could keep his place in the XI after a bright showing and Roberto Firmino has recovered from a virus to lead the line.
Merseysiders favourites at Old Trafford
Manchester United have W9-D2-L1 when hosting arch-rivals Liverpool at Anfield across all competitions since 2009. The Red Devils were 2-1 winners when the two teams met here last season under Jose Mourinho's tutelage as Marcus Rashford struck twice; the Reds' only success in that 12-game sample came back in March 2014 during Brendan Rodgers' reign.
Man Utd axed Mourinho following a limp performance and 3-1 loss at Anfield in early December. Since the Portuguese boss departed, United have collected 25 points from a possible 27 (W8-D1-L0) and clinched away cup wins at both Arsenal and Chelsea. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed the hosts who are interesting [3.15] outsiders.
Liverpool [2.44] surrendered top spot in the Premier League following a pair of surprise stalemates against Leicester and West Ham. Even so, the Merseysiders have suffered a sole reverse in domestic league football this term, only losing at Manchester City. Over the past two campaigns, the Reds have W3-D6-L5 at Big Six sides under Jurgen Klopp.
Both sides may oblige
Liverpool fired a blank for only the fourth occasion across all competitions in 2018/19 in midweek but the Reds should be well capable of causing Manchester United's backline problems at Old Trafford. United have conceded against Burnley, Bournemouth, Brighton and Huddersfield in their last four here and managed a sole shutout as hosts.
Nine (75%) of United's 12 home outings have featured Over 2.5 Goals [1.81] with 10 tussles paying-out for Both Teams To Score backers, suggesting goals could again be on the agenda. All four of Liverpool's trips to the Big Six this season have delivered BTTS profit, as have 12 of their 14 games as guests at the Premier League's elite since the start of 2016/17.
Liverpool may have stumbled in recent weeks but they remain fearsome operators in the Premier League, losing only four of their past 55 encounters. The Reds boast the quality and know-how to survive a trip to Old Trafford and I'm happy to have the visitors onside in the Double Chance market.
However, with goals likely to flow, we can throw in Both Teams To Score to the equation via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi markets for an attractive 6/5 shot on Sunday.
Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss
Staked: 111.00 pts
Returned: 114.25 pts
P/L: +3.25 pts