Image via The Sun
Liverpool host rivals Man Utd at Anfield on Sunday, needing a victory to keep up their hopes of a top four Premier League finish in 2022-23. We look ahead to the big match with our Opta-led preview and prediction..
Liverpool vs Man Utd: The Quick Hits
- Liverpool the favourites with the Opta supercomputer to continue their great recent home form versus Man Utd and defeat their rivals on Sunday.
- Mohamed Salah needs one more goal to equal Robbie Fowler’s club record tally of 128 goals for Liverpool.
- Man Utd looking to do the Premier League home/away double over Liverpool for the first time since 2015-16.
Manchester United and Liverpool renew their rivalry this weekend, with the two most successful English clubs meeting in the Premier League at Anfield. It’s the biggest fixture in the English football league calendar, and the 180th such league meeting between the pair – only nine fixtures have been more commonly played in EFL history.
A fixture fuelled by the close proximity and industrial rivalry of the two cities, this is considered one of the biggest in English league football – so much so, that most fans would consider this bigger than their respective local derbies against Manchester City and Everton.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are unbeaten in their last six league games against Man Utd at home (W3 D3) since a 1-0 defeat at Anfield in January 2016. This is their longest run without defeat against the Red Devils at home since a nine-game sequence between 1970 and 1979. In all competitions, Liverpool have conceded just once in their last seven home games against the Red Devils, including three clean sheets in a row most recently – keep another one in this game and they’ll have shutout Man Utd in four successive meetings at Anfield for the first time since 1992.
With this his 15th Premier League meeting with Manchester United (three more than any other Liverpool boss in the PL era), it’ll come as little surprise that a win in this match would see Klopp victorious against Man Utd more often than any other Reds’ boss – a record he currently shares with Gérard Houllier (five wins).
No team have won away at Anfield in the Premier League more often than Manchester United (12), while Erik ten Hag’s side are looking to complete the home/away league double over Liverpool for the ninth time in Premier League history in this match, having defeated the Merseyside side 2-1 at Old Trafford in August. They haven’t achieved this in the competition since winning against Liverpool at both Anfield and Old Trafford in 2015-16.
Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool – 22 August 2022 (Premier League)
Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat to Man Utd at Old Trafford in August saw them winless in their opening three games to the 2022-23 Premier League season (D2 L1) – the first time that they’d suffered this feat since 2012-13 under Brendan Rodgers. It was their first defeat in 22 Premier League matches and the first time that they’d lost a league game in 2022.
This game also saw Erik ten Hag become the first Manchester United manager to secure his first-ever competitive win at the club with a victory over rivals Liverpool.
Jadon Sancho opened the scoring, before Marcus Rashford hit the first of his 28 goals in 2022-23 for club and country in the 53rd minute. That strike also saw Rashford score for the fifth time in the Premier League for Man Utd versus Liverpool; a tally that only Wayne Rooney (six) has more than.
Mohamed Salah scored a late consolation past David de Gea with nine minutes to go. It was the Egyptian forward’s 10th goal in all competitions against Man Utd, the most of any Liverpool player in this fixture in history.
Since the resumption of Premier League football following the 2022 FIFA World Cup, no side have averaged more points in the competition than Man Utd (2.30). The Red Devils have lost just one of their last 11 games – one of these coming pre-World Cup, 10 after – with eight wins and two draws. The only defeat in this run was a late 3-2 loss to Arsenal in London in January.
Man United’s current scoring run of 15 successive Premier League games is the longest in the competition and their longest such a run of 17 matches between February and October 2020.
After a terrible run of winning one point in four games (D1 L3) to kick off 2023 in the Premier League, Liverpool’s midweek win over Wolves means that they are now unbeaten in four games and have kept a clean sheet in each match (W3 D1). Should Liverpool avoid defeat in this game, it’ll be their first five-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League this season. Liverpool’s current run of four clean sheets in a row is their best in the Premier League since April 2022 (five in a row).
They have lost just one of their last 35 Premier League matches at Anfield (W26 D8 L1), averaging 2.46 points per game on home soil across that period. Their only home defeat in this run came against Leeds United in October 2022 (2-1).
Only bottom-half teams Nottingham Forest (76.0%), West Ham United (73.9%) and Leeds (72.7%) have won a higher proportion of their Premier League points in home matches than Liverpool have so far in 2022-23 (69.2%).
Across all competitions in their last five games, Liverpool’s only defeat came in a 5-2 loss at Anfield to reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid, in a game that they led 2-0 thanks to goals from Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah.
Players to Watch
Liverpool: Mohamed Salah
It’s hard to look past a man that’s scored in each of his last five appearances against Man Utd as Liverpool’s key player for this match. Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s all-time highest scorer in matches against the Red Devils (10), with nine of those strikes coming in those last five games versus them.
Eight of his 10 goals against United have come in the Premier League, with only Alan Shearer (10) scoring more against them in the competition.
Salah is also on the search for yet another record in this match, with his current tally of 127 Premier League goals for Liverpool only one behind Robbie Fowler’s record tally of 128 for the club in the competition.
With 29 goal involvements in all competitions in 2022-23 (20 goals, nine assists), Salah is by far Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking threat. In fact, the only other players to have reached double figures for goal involvements this season for the Reds are Darwin Núñez (16) and Roberto Firmino (13). With Sadio Mane departed to Bayern Munich, Luis Diaz still out through injury and Diogo Jota having spent large spells of 2022-23 on the sidelines, Salah’s goal threat has been even more important to Klopp.
Manchester United: Fred
It’s taken five seasons and the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager to do it, but Fred is finally showing his importance to Manchester United and winning the adoration of their fans.
With fellow midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro often stealing the limelight, Fred has slowly become a key part of United’s midfield in recent months, and he’s begun adding important goals and assists to his ball-winning qualities.
He’s been involved in seven goals in his last 10 appearances (four goals, three assists), including a vital goal against La Liga leaders Barcelona in the Europa League at Old Trafford a few weeks ago and a midweek FA Cup strike versus West Ham.
Since the resumption of club football post-World Cup, Fred’s been one of the most crucial players in Man Utd’s open play attacking sequences, with 6.2 involvements per 90 and only Casemiro (45) has put in more tackles than he has (43) across all competitions.
Liverpool vs Man Utd Prediction
The Opta supercomputer’s heavy lean towards a Liverpool win in this fixture may surprise you. They are favourites and have been given a 55.4% chance of victory in this match, with Man Utd winning less than one-in-five of the thousands of match simulations played out by the machine.
However, Liverpool’s record at Anfield against Man Utd in recent years is excellent, with their six successive league meetings without a defeat there their longest such run since the 1970s.
United have also picked up just one point in their three away games this season versus the ‘big six’ – defeats against Arsenal and Man City, plus a 1-1 away draw at Chelsea in which they were rescued by a 94th minute Casemiro equaliser.
Liverpool have been strong in matches against fellow ‘big six’ sides in recent memory at Anfield, too. Unbeaten in seven such matches there (W3 D4) and losing just two of their last 35 games against ‘big six’ opposition at Anfield in the Premier League (W20 D13 L2), it’s not an easy place for any opponent to travel to.
Klopp’s side really need a win in this game to keep up their aspirations of a top four finish in the 2022-23 Premier League table. The Opta supercomputer currently rates those chances at 33.0%, which is the fifth highest behind the current top four sides.
Manchester United have already all but secured Champions League football for next season, with an extremely high chance of a top four finish in our Premier League predictions (95.9%), while they have a very outside chance of mounting an exceptional title charge and winning the Premier League (2.2%) behind Arsenal (51.3%) and Man City (46.4%), but ahead of rank outsiders Newcastle United (0.2%).
Via The Analyst