IT’S the mother of all games according to Jurgen Klopp. How does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see it going?
Liverpool v Manchester United | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport Europe
This has got sass. This has aura. This has got appeal. England’s biggest rivalry played out under a new banner, under a new umbrella. The fact the umbrella is a bit skanky and ragged shouldn’t deter from the occasion although it is a metaphorical representation of the decline of these clubs, certainly Manchester United.
Form-wise Liverpool have hit a nice wee run. While their penalty shoot-out loss at the hands of Manchester City was a big blow they’ve managed to string three league wins together for the first time this season banging in 11 goals in the process.
Take a glance at the table and Liverpool are three points behind Manchester United with a game in hand and are six behind fourth place Manchester City. While a Champions League qualifying spot looks very unlikely it’s not entirely impossible as we hit mid-March.
Three weeks ago tonight Louis Van Gaal was on the precipice at Manchester United after a defeat in Denmark to FC Midtjylland but his players managed to pull him back from the brink in fine style with four victories on the bounce including a win over Arsenal.
That excellent run of form revived their own Top 4 hopes but on Sunday they met with another setback when losing at The Hawthorns to West Brom. It was no great surprise.
So what we have here is two fragile sides who show bursts of form from time to time but ultimately have a number of flaws at this particular juncture.
I don’t think there’s much between them but one interesting stat is that Manchester United have won all of their last four meetings and eight of the last 10 showdowns.
Intriguingly you have to go back to 2011 to find the last time the sides drew with each other and it’s occurred just once in the last 25 meetings. Amazing.
One thing I admire about Manchester United is their record against the top sides this season. They beaten Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and avoided defeat against Leicester and Man City. Defeats tend to have come against lesser opposition.
Liverpool look in good form and Anfield should be rocking but I can’t back them at 13/10 here considering their inconsistent season and poor record against their opponents.
The gut feel is to expect a tight, terse encounter with few goals. For starters there’s lots at stake here, secondly seven of Liverpool’s eight Europa League matches this season have gone Under 2.5 Goals and the fact it’s a two leg tie means there’s less urgency.
Liverpool v Manchester United – Under 1.5 Goals (2/1 William Hill)
Liverpool v Manchester United – No Goalscorer (8/1 Coral)
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