DEBATE: Are Liverpool better equipped than United to win EPL?

Sport360 staff 07:45 17/10/2016
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  • Ready to battle: Liverpool and Manchester United.

    Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been attracting major plaudits at the start of this 2016-17 Premier League football season, but Monday night’s clash with Manchester United could be the biggest test of their mettle thus far.

    Given the history between the two clubs and the passionate support the fixture provokes, it may be the best indication yet of which side is better equipped for a title challenge this season.

    Our #360debate this week is: Are Liverpool better equipped than Manchester United to win the title?

    Alex Rea, sub-editor, says YES

    Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp have been transformed into a ruthless attacking force. With 18 goals plundered this season, they are the joint highest scorers in the Premier League and in terms of chances created, shots, passes, sprints and distance covered, they lead the way in all five categories.

    It’s a reflection of the players’ desire to buy into the German’s methods and it’s paying dividends as the Reds have shaken off what initially looked like a tricky start to emerge as heavyweights in the title race. Indeed, they’ve already slipped past visits to Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea and pocketed seven points.

    On the front foot, they’ve looked extremely explosive and clinical with incendiary duo Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane becoming reliable goalscorers – both have three goals in the league already.

    But where Liverpool have been dynamic and free-flowing, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have been uneven and unconvincing. Already six points off the league summit with two defeats from seven games, United’s summer acquisitions are yet to integrate.

    Indicative of that has been their world-record signing Paul Pogba who has struggled in a holding midfielder role in the Portuguese’s 4-2-3-1 formation. There also appears to be an undercurrent of tension at Old Trafford with Mourinho hanging Luke Shaw out to dry in the press and then his irate exchange with club analyst Giovanni Cerra before the Europa League tie with Zorya.

    That also brings us onto another key aspect when comparing the two North-England powerhouses – Europe.

    Without the burden of Europa League football, Klopp has been able to capitalise with a full week of preparation to really focus his charges’ attentions on the league.

    The contrast in workload between the two sides is a major benefit to the Reds and it will not only ensure their European absence is not repeated again, but it better equips them to end what would be 27 years of hurt.

    Matt Monaghan, reporter, says NO

    No matter who wins the derby on Monday night, Manchester United are far more likely to be celebrating come the end of the Premier League season.

    The hype machine is in full swing, with Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool side pitted as being ready to deal a mortal blow to their enemies from down the M62 motorway.

    Yet in (still) freshly-installed manager Jose Mourinho and his star-studded squad, the Red Devils look better prepared for the long game.

    In historic buy Paul Pogba, goalkeeper David De Gea and Sweden talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, United boast a trio of undoubted world-class players. In the opposite corner, the other Reds possess an admittedly-impressive collection of emerging talents rather than finished products.

    United’s elite players have been brought in at a handsome price because they will make the difference more often over 38 games. That Pogba now seems set to explode after his thunderbolt for France against the Netherlands only adds to this feeling.

    A greater strength in depth is also apparent, with the likes of long-term Anfield target Henrikh Mkhitaryan, skipper Wayne Rooney and Argentina No. 1 Sergio Romero largely restricted to the substitutes’ bench.

    In Mourinho, United possess an expert at getting over the line in England. From five completed campaigns, he has only finished behind Liverpool once and lifted the title three times. ‘The Special One’ understands the value of defence.

    In this department, United have conceded eight times to Liverpool’s 10 during 2016/17 – and the Eric Bailly/Chris Smalling centre-back partnership can only improve.

    Beyond mere individuals, the collective strength of United over Liverpool is clear since the Premier League’s inauguration in 1992/93. During this time, the Merseysiders have only finished ahead of their Mancunian foes twice in 24 seasons.

    Don’t expect this pattern to change anytime soon.