WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) had a profitable weekend on the Premier League. Here he previews ‘Red Monday’ as Man Utd make the short trip to Merseyside for what promises to be a fantastic showdown.
Liverpool v Manchester United | Monday 20:00 | Sky Sports 1
They’re labelling this ‘Red Monday’.
With neither club featuring in the Champions League this season – something that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago – it means that we can have this huge derby clash on Monday Night Football. Certainly a good way to start the week.
Liverpool’s transition under Jurgen Klopp is bearing fruit. They are playing some scintillating stuff, reminiscent of the 2013/14 season.
The problem is, the Reds still have some defensive fragilities in their game, much like they did under Brendan Rodgers in that season. They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league through seven games.
Joel Matip has settled in very nicely though and looks to be a player they can build around. James Milner has been displaying his utility-man skills again, playing brilliantly at left-back. It doesn’t even bear thinking how much more confidence he instils in comparison to Alberto Moreno.
Joe Gomez returned to training last week and that’s got the Liverpool contingent rightfully excited. The youngster showed a lot of promise before a year-long injury and his addition to the back-line could be the missing link.
Going forward they look as dangerous, if not more, as they did when Daniel Sturridge was partnered by Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez.
Roberto Firmino has proved to be a magnificent purchase and offers a variety of options for Klopp; Liverpool can switch between playing Sturridge as a full striker or playing Firmino with Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho in a false-nine formation.
Sturridge is yet to score in six Premier League games this season but looked good against Malta during the international break and his talent is undeniable. Whether he starts is anyone’s guess though as Klopp has rotated between different front threes from game-to-game, regardless of the quality of opposition.
A Liverpool win with both teams scoring has copped in all of their last four league games and five out of seven in total this season. Last season seven of their 16 league wins came via that method, including victories over Chelsea and Manchester City.
Manchester United did the double over the Reds last season.
At Old Trafford the Red Devils were the better side but this was a game in which Liverpool were without their main man Philippe Coutinho and had to opt for Danny Ings and Christian Benteke up front, the latter scored a quite brilliant overhead kick but in truth he never suited Liverpool’s style – the Merseyside’s have a stronger identity now.
United’s victory at Anfield was pretty undeserved. Wayne Rooney scored a late goal but it was rather against the run of play.
Since that game Liverpool haven’t lost any of their last 10 Premier League home games and they’ve beaten United in the Europa League on their own patch – a game in which they had 60% possession and eight shots on-target to United’s one.
Jose Mourinho has since taken over and he’s piecing together a world-class squad. Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimović are genuine superstars whilst Henrikh Mhkitaryan and Eric Bailly are also the envy of the rest of the division.
Historically this fixture has gone either one way or the other; there have been just two draws in the last 34 league meetings with United winning 21 and Liverpool, 11. That’s not overly surprising as I’m looking at the period from 1999 to the present day, an era in which the Red Devils have dominated the league.
United have had a mixed start under the ‘Special One’. Losing the Manchester derby threw them off course and they then lost to Feyenoord and Watford; making it three defeats in the space of eight days. The 4-1 win over Leicester eased those pains but the Foxes have since limply lost to Chelsea as well.
Stoke’s Joe Allen scored a late equaliser at Old Trafford before the international break to leave United fans pretty underwhelmed by the start to life under Mourinho. Going into the game they sit seventh and anything less than a win here would see them already a little off the pace.
United have scored in every Premier League game so far this season and I don’t see that run ending here with Liverpool’s defensive issues already highlighted. I think Liverpool justify their 6/5 favouritism but it’s not a price I’ll confidently back in a game of this magnitude.
The bet I like is one I’ve already pointed to. Liverpool to win and Both Teams To Score, available at 3/1 with Bet365.
I just see the Reds as a side that can get into that higher gear much more seamlessly at present; that may change later in the season but I’m a sucker for a form horse.
Liverpool v Manchester United – Liverpool to win and Both Teams To Score (3/1 Bet365)