Man United v Liverpool: Rashford and Mane in focus, plus key stats and predictions

Marc Benamram 21:37 21/02/2019
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One of England’s biggest rivalries takes centre stage this weekend, as Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Liverpool face off at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Throughout the years this fixture has been one of the highlights of the Premier League calendar. But this week’s encounter has taken on added significance, with Manchester United looking to cement a place in the Premier League’s top four, while a positive result for Liverpool would give them the advantage over Manchester City in the title race.

United, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, look reborn and the Manchester club will be going into Sunday’s match optimistic of making it nine wins from 10 in the league since the Norwegian’s temporary appointment at Old Trafford in late December.

This year has seen Jurgen Klopp’s side faulter somewhat in their pursuit of a first league title in 28 years. The Merseyside club, who at the start of January had a seven-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s City, now trail the defending champions on goal difference.

A dominant victory over Bournemouth last week was certainly welcomed by the Anfield faithful but supporters know their side must avoid defeat against their fiercest rivals to silence lingering doubts about their title credentials.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

KEY STATS

Despite their drop in form, Liverpool have only lost once in the Premier League all season – a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Man City at the Etihad in January.

United haven’t lost a Premier League game since their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in December, a result which proved to be Jose Mourinho’s last game in charge at the club and the catalyst for the start of the Ole era.

Both sides have averaged over two goals a game in their last 10 matches and have only managed to keep two clean sheets in their last five respective Premier League outings.

Liverpool have conceded five goals in their last five league matches which accounts for a third of all their top-flight goals conceded this season. Both sides have managed over 1.5 goals in seven of their last 10 encounters against each other.

KEY MEN

Manchester United: Marcus Rashford

Injuries sustained to both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial against PSG may leave the onus on England youngster Marcus Rashford to carry the attacking threat for United.

The 21-year-old is one of many players rejuvenated under the Solskjaer regime, having netted six goals in his last nine starts under the Norwegian. If United are going to get something out of this game, it’s more than likely that the United starlet will be play a decisive part.

Liverpool: Sadio Mane

The Senegalese forward finds himself in excellent form despite Liverpool’s recent struggles, having netted in each of his last four Premier League games. Mane, now finds himself seventh in the Premier League top-scorer chart for the season and will be aiming to be on the scoresheet once again at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

PREDICTION: 2-2

While it looks as though United will be missing Martial and Lingard, the dynamism shown during their comfortable 2-0 victory against Chelsea in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Monday night suggests that Solskjaer has more in his locker tactically than some have given him credit for.

The Red Devils will be seeking revenge for their humiliating display at Anfield in December and also need the points in their pursuit of Champions League football next season. Liverpool, despite looking so assured at the back for the first half of the season, have started to leak goals of late. But Klopp will know that victory at Old Trafford would be a massive step forward with regards to their title aspirations.

The recent history between these two Premier League giants coupled with recent form suggests one thing: goals.

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