The stage is set for a top table clash between two of the game’s biggest clubs as the Liverpool against Manchester United rivalry carries greater significance than any meeting in recent memory. Premier League title last season it’s United that now unexpectedly top the league ahead of their trip to Anfield, with the chance to extend their lead over their hosts to six points.
We’ve picked out five key facts ahead of Sunday’s showdown, with the form of the two teams, Liverpool’s scoring struggles and the man in the middle all in focus.
1. Manchester United aiming to equal Liverpool record
As they approach the game on an unbeaten streak of 11 Premier League matches since tasting defeat to Arsenal back in November, the visitors have the chance to match their hosts record of 12 unbeaten which came to an end against Southampton last time out. It follows a 14-game unbeaten streak from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at the end of last season, highlighting the progress they have made over the past 12 months.
2. Klopp aiming to avoid unwanted record
Having surrendered top spot in midweek, Liverpool only have themselves to blame after a run of three matches without a win against West Brom, Newcastle and Saints. Should they fail to win once more it would be the first time they have gone four matches without a win since January 2017, while a defeat would represent their joint worst points haul over any four-game period in Jurgen Klopp’s reign on Merseyside.
3. Reds front three far from prolific against United
When Liverpool need a goal they can usually call on their famed attacking trident to deliver but facing Manchester United hasn’t always suited them. In fact, all three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have scored just once in their careers against the Red Devils despite making a combined total of 24 appearances versus this weekend’s visitors. Only three Liverpool players have scored more than once in their careers against United – James Milner (4), Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota (both 2) – none of whom are expected to start.
4. Home teams beware of Paul Tierney!
The referee for this massive match is Paul Tierney, who boasts a pretty remarkable, if coincidental record this season. Sunday’s official has overseen 11 Premier League matches this season, none of which have been won by the home team. Every other top-flight ref has officiated at least two home victories this season, so the hosts will hope Tierney starts his catch up this weekend.
5. All eyes on the penalty spot…
Jurgen Klopp has been very vocal about Manchester United’s tendency to win penalties, but the Red Devils are only one ahead of Liverpool in that regard this season. The champions have been awarded five to United’s six and also conceded five. However, three of the penalties the Reds have given away this season have been missed, and Bruno Fernandes has finally proven fallible from the spot this season.