News ID: 260440
Published: 0316 GMT October 19, 2019

Why Reds will go to Old Trafford and win: Analysis

Why Reds will go to Old Trafford and win: Analysis
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By Danny Murphy*

When it plays Manchester United on Sunday, Liverpool will play the same way that it always does, because it doesn’t change that for anybody.

That means its standard 4-3-3 formation, and playing on the front foot at Old Trafford – trying to win the game, like the Reds do every week.

United is not playing with any confidence at the moment, and does not have great firepower either, so from Liverpool's perspective this is a real opportunity.

Whoever is fit for United, I think its mindset is a little bit fearful at the moment, and Liverpool will know that it might be edgy.

So Liverpool can go after United, to probe it and test it, and try to win the ball high up the pitch.

If Liverpool's intensity is as high as it usually is when it does that, then it is going to cause United a lot of problems.

 

Fewer nerves

 

Sunday's game feels very different to this fixture last season, which ended up being a missed opportunity for Liverpool after it was held 0-0 in a game that became very disjointed after a series of early injuries. United saw Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard go off injured before halftime, while Liverpool lost Roberto Firmino after half an hour.

There were far more nerves involved then for Jurgen Klopp's side – it was the end of February and things were extremely tight at the top of the table, so it was a game the Reds could not afford to lose.

Setting up the way they did then, to play on the break was not the worst tactic in the world and neither was the end result. It was only costly because of how relentless Manchester City was in the title run-in. Klopp's side only dropped only two more points in its remaining 11 games – but City did not drop any from the end of January, and won the league by a point.

It was also a very different United team back in February. It was still on a great run after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had taken temporary charge in December, and it was a much tougher game on paper.

This time, United is struggling, while Liverpool also has such a healthy lead at the top of the table after winning its first eight games that it is not in a position where it will be feeling any pressure.

As far as the bigger picture goes, Liverpool is eight points clear so it would not even matter too much this time if it was beaten, but I don't see that happening. I am backing Liverpool to win.

 

United attack suits Liverpool

 

The way I expect United to play should suit Liverpool down to the ground.

If United comes out and attack, which is what I think will happen, then that will play right into Liverpool's hands.

When United is at home, there is always an obligation for the club to have a go at the opposition, especially in this particular fixture – and even more so now because of its recent form.

United needs a reaction in front of its own fans because its recent performances have been lackluster and lethargic in many ways, with none of the creativity, energy or pace you expect from them.

That is partly down to injuries, and we still don't know what sort of team Solskjaer can put out this weekend – which is another reason I see the league leader as such strong favorite to make it nine Premier League wins out of nine.

Even if United does sit back, which I cannot see it doing, it won't make much difference.

Yes, Liverpool has found it harder against teams which have done that, but it has still created chances and always ended up winning the game in the end.

If United puts numbers behind the ball and try to deny Liverpool space, it is just waiting to be beaten – and I don't think United’s fans will accept that.

 

United’s forwards dangerous, but lack supply

 

I am backing Liverpool, but I don't see a runaway victory – despite the gap between the two sides.

A lot depends on United's team. We know Paul Pogba is out but if Anthony Martial is fit then that will be a big plus for United.

Marcus Rashford's goal for England in Bulgaria on Monday will have done him a lot of good too. A front three of him, Martial and Daniel James is obviously dangerous because of their pace.

But at the moment, United seems to have a problem with its supply line – United is not getting the ball high up the pitch often enough to give its forwards chances.

Solskjaer has not been able to solve that issue because his squad does not have enough strength in depth.

A lot of the time, his team has almost picked itself just by who is available, and it has not found the right balance in midfield.

In contrast, whoever is in Liverpool's midfield, it does not seem to matter.

Klopp can constantly rotate players in that area because they all play disciplined roles – they know their jobs and are willing to work hard.

They all track back, and they all press. They will help the team get on the front foot, but they will quickly get into a defensive shape if they have to.

One of the ways they do that is by covering the fullbacks when they fly forward. For example, Jordan Henderson fills in on the right side when Trent Alexander-Arnold goes high up the pitch.

In an ideal world, you would want more goals from that department but let's face it, if you have won eight games on the spin without really playing that well, like Liverpool has, then it suggests you are not short of firepower.

 

* Danny Murphy is a football pundit and former Liverpool midfielder. This article was first published in bbc.com.

 

 

 

 

   
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