MX23RW : Friday, January 31 23:10:05| >> :600:1145211:1145211:
Jan 19, 2020 at 4.30pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 52,916
Man UtdManchester United
van Dijk (14'), Salah (93')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Liverpool vs. Manchester United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League showdown between bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

The two most successful clubs in English football history renew hostilities on Sunday when Premier League leaders Liverpool welcome bitter rivals Manchester United to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's side have shattered records galore while building a 14-point lead at the top of the table, but now come up against the only team to have taken points off them in the league so far this season.

Match preview

Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prowl their respective areas during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Liverpool on October 20, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool versus Manchester United needs no extra billing, and players on either side need no extra incentive to be at their best in what remains English league football's red-letter day.

However, the plights of both clubs make the latest edition of this fixture even more intriguing, with Liverpool keen to make up for dropping their only points of the season to their greatest rivals while United would love nothing more than being the team to end Liverpool's unbeaten run.

The Red Devils have form in that respect too; Liverpool's current 38-game unbeaten streak is the third-longest in Premier League history, but it was United that ended the only two runs which have gone on longer - Arsenal's 49-game streak in 2004 and a 40-game run for Chelsea one year later.

It could prove to be an ominous sign for Klopp's side, although the German has repeatedly stated that he is not even interested in his own team's historic feats so it is highly unlikely that he knows or even cares about United's streak-ending form.

Those results against Arsenal and Chelsea also came at a time when United were among the dominant forces in the Premier League, but that is a title which Liverpool alone can boast this season.

Roberto Firmino celebrates opening the scoring during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool on January 11, 2020© Reuters

The Reds go into the weekend with a 14-point lead over second-placed champions Manchester City and a whopping 27 points clear of United, all with a game in hand too.

The astonishing form which has placed them in what is surely an unassailable position is difficult to comprehend - an almost unfathomable run of 29 wins from their last 30 Premier League outings, with the only exception being October's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Last weekend's 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur - which ended up being perhaps more nail-biting than it should have been - ensured that they have now registered more points at this stage of a season than any club has ever managed in the history of Europe's top five leagues, amassing 61 from the 63 on offer.

The result also made it the equivalent of a full Premier League season unbeaten, with Liverpool racking up 104 points during that time - unsurprisingly another record for any 38-game streak by any club in the history of the competition.

For context, United have lost 11 top-flight games since Liverpool's last defeat more than a year ago, and yet still Klopp insisted after the Spurs match that he "felt nothing" when informed of the latest historic exploits of his team.

Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool on January 11, 202© Reuters

The reason for that is simple; Liverpool's class of 2019-20 may have etched their names into the history books forever, but they are determined not to rest until the club's name is also etched on the Premier League trophy.

Thirty years of hurt have been exacerbated by United picking up 13 titles in that time, overhauling Liverpool's record tally of 18 and extending it to 20 league crowns in the race for all-time domestic supremacy.

At this stage it looks as though Liverpool will regain that particular bragging right before United can extend their lead any further, and another triumph on Sunday would be the latest major step on what is looking more and more like a title procession for the champions elect.

United's visit is the last match Liverpool play against any of the current top six - or indeed the established 'big six' - until visiting the Etihad Stadium at the start of April, by which point they may well have already wrapped the title up at their current rate.

It would also be the game in which they can equal Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten record, incidentally, but there will be no suggestion of looking that far ahead just yet from within Anfield.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on December 18, 2019© Reuters

For all of their dominance this season, Liverpool know that any complacency is likely to be punished by a United side that is still able to raise their game for the big occasion.

Indeed, the Red Devils are unbeaten in matches against the current top four so far this season, most recently beating Manchester City at the Etihad and also overcoming Leicester City and Chelsea earlier in the campaign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were also only five minutes away from beating Liverpool in October's reverse fixture and come into this match off the back off consecutive wins, thrashing Norwich City in their last league outing and edging past Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup on Wednesday night.

The latter result may have come at a cost, with top scorer Marcus Rashford a major doubt for this match having aggravated a back injury, but every win will increase the confidence of a side that has struggled for consistency throughout the season.

For all of their victories over the teams above them in the table, United remain five points adrift of the Champions League places and have accrued their lowest points tally at this stage of a season since 1989-90 - incidentally when Liverpool last ruled the roost too.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford receives medical attention after sustaining an injury on January 15, 2020© Reuters

United have won just two of their last eight away games across all competitions, failing to even score in three of their last four, while they could lose three successive top-flight games on Merseyside for the first time since 1979.

There is no harder place in world football to visit than Anfield now either; Liverpool have won their last 18 top-flight games in front of their own fans, stretching back almost a full year since they last dropped even a point, and they have not been beaten at home in the league since April 2017 - a run which now stands at 51 matches.

If Rashford does miss out then United's chances of ending Liverpool's best run of Premier League clean sheets since 2006 will also take a significant blow, while there is no respite at the other end with Liverpool able to set a new club record by scoring in their 22nd consecutive top-flight game from the start of a season.

All the stats point firmly in Liverpool's favour, then, but football is often ruled by unquantifiable characteristics too, and United remain the team Liverpool have struggled most against in recent years.

Even Klopp himself has fallen foul of that on an individual basis; among the 31 teams he has faced 10 or more times during his managerial career, his worst win ratio is against United, winning just two of his 10 previous meetings.

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Man Utd Premier League form: DLWWLW
Man Utd form (all competitions): WLDLWW

Team News

Liverpool's Fabinho reacts after sustaining an injury on November 27, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool are expected to welcome Fabinho and Joel Matip back into their squad for this match, although both may be introduced from the bench considering their lack of football recently.

Fabinho has been sidelined since the end of November due to an ankle problem, while the reverse fixture against United is Matip's only appearance since September having been struggling with a knee injury.

The match comes just too soon for Dejan Lovren, while Naby Keita, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne remain sidelined, but the starting XI could be unchanged from last weekend's win over Tottenham.

Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of that game to make it five goals in his last six games for Liverpool across all competitions - as many as he had in his previous 30 appearances for the Reds - but remarkably his last Anfield goal came way back in April.

Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have managed only one goal between them in 18 combined meetings with United, the latter failing to score or assist a goal in any of his four previous games against Liverpool's biggest rivals.

United's front three have actually scored more goals than Liverpool's this season, although Rashford, who has provided 19 of the trio's 39, could miss the game with a lower back injury.

Solskjaer revealed in his pre-match press conference that he does not expect his top scorer to recover in time, although the possibility of that being gamesmanship cannot be discounted - Liverpool, for example, hung Salah's shirt in the dressing room for the reverse fixture despite the Egyptian winger not being fit for the contest.

Should Rashford fall short then he will undoubtedly be a big loss to the visitors as he has scored the opening goal in six Premier League games this season - a joint-league high heading into the weekend - while only Salah has scored more winning goals in the top flight this term.

All of United's last 15 league goals have been scored by either Rashford, Mason Greenwood or Anthony Martial, and the latter in particular may need to continue his improved form having been directly involved in 14 goals across all competitions this season - already matching his tally from the whole of last term.

Solskjaer is still without midfield duo Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, while Luke Shaw will require a late fitness test and Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are unlikely to be included as they work their way back to fitness following lengthy injury absences.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Fred, Matic; Mata, Pereira, Rashford; Martial

Head To Head

Liverpool have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games against United, although that did come in the reverse fixture last season when Xherdan Shaqiri's brace fired the hosts to victory at Anfield.

United are now winless in their last four visits to Anfield in all competitions since a 1-0 win in January 2016, when Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the game.

The Red Devils have only won one of the nine clashes across all competitions since then, but they have also inflicted 28 Premier League defeats on Liverpool, which is eight more than the Reds have suffered against any other club.

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We say: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

This is the first time Liverpool have hosted United in a league game while topping the table since September 1990, and they went on to win 4-0 on that occasion.

There will be some people expecting a similar scoreline this weekend, but United do seem to play better in these big games, whereas Liverpool often struggle to reach their own usual standard against their bitter rivals.

Nevertheless, we cannot back against a team which has been so relentless this season, particularly at Anfield. Anything other than a Liverpool win would be a major shock and, while it may not be as convincing as some expect, the hosts are overwhelming favourites for good reason.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United?

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Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring for Liverpool on November 30, 2019
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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Manchester United
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rhs 2.0
2Manchester CityMan City24163565273851
3Leicester CityLeicester24153652242848
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd249783629734
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs249783832634
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2481063532334
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd248972523233
11Crystal Palace247982228-630
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2486102436-1230
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2467112734-725
16Aston Villa2474133145-1425
17West Ham UnitedWest Ham2465132740-1323
20Norwich CityNorwich2445152447-2317

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