Manchester United Face First True Test of Season with Trip to Liverpool
We can cast the international break into the memory banks, at least until the next one rolls around in November, and focus on the weekend’s highlight that sees Liverpool entertain Manchester United at Anfield.
Liverpool dominated the English landscape in the 80s, while United took over the mantle through the 90s and into the new century.
Both have had a lean few years, Liverpool more so than United on the Premier League front, and both are looking to scale the mountain once again.
Under Jose Mourinho, the Red Devils look best equipped of the two to make that leap this season. The Portuguese has moulded an archetypal Mourinho team, full of power, extremely well disciplined and ruthless in front of goal. United are joint top of the table alongside Manchester City, but they have yet to play any of their rivals.
That changes on Saturday with a trip to Anfield, and it is a crunch encounter for both. While Mourinho’s United need to show they are more than playground bullies, feasting on the lunches of the little kids, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds need to show they have what it takes to be classed as an elite side.
Mourinho has played down the size of the game, insisting in an interview with Sky Sports that it is just another match to tick off.
“It’s for three points, not four,” Mourinho said. “Maybe if we were in a moment of the season where it was a duel between two teams it would mean more but it’s not the case.”
Do not believe a word of it. Yes there are only three points on the table, but it is so much more than that between two of English football’s biggest rivals.
United fans have revelled in the fact, as former manager Sir Alex Ferguson so eloquently put it: “My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f*****g perch.”
This game means everything to both sets of fans, and both clubs, and three points is the difference between delight and despair.
Looking at it from afar, United look well equipped to register their seventh win from eight league matches. They have looked solid at the back, move the ball with purpose and have been deadly in front of goal.
That looks a lethal mix for a Liverpool side who defend like rabbits in headlights and have been extremely wasteful in front of goal.
But look back to last season and Liverpool went unbeaten against the other sides in the top six. Raising their game for the big occasion has not been an issue for Klopp’s men.
Klopp claims his side are still in the title race; if that is the case they cannot afford a defeat as that would see them 10 points adrift of United.
There’s little to split them in the betting, with 188BET having United as slight favourites at 2.65 to Liverpool’s 2.70 – and the draw at 3.40.
Home advantage can make a major difference and with Liverpool underdogs in the betting despite being at Anfield, it is tempting to side with Klopp’s men to get a narrow, confidence boosting win.
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