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The awakening of English football’s biggest rivalry: The Kop on the heels of the devils

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When the 22 players from both sides walk onto the Anfield pitch, tonight, to represent their respective clubs, they will realize that the stakes are higher than it has been in years.

They will realize that there is more to play for, more to brag about and more to be achieved in the 223rd meeting involving English football’s biggest rivals: Liverpool and Manchester United.

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Following a dormant period in the history of both clubs, the rivalry has not sparked incredible scenes and generated a lot of talking points, but with the positions of both clubs in the league, a different but classic game could be witnessed.

Manchester United leapfrogged Liverpool into first place after their victory over Burnley and could make it a 6-point lead over the defending champions by the end of the game.

A win will also see Manchester United end Liverpool’s unbeaten home run- a record Klopp’s men would want to protect with their lives.

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So Liverpool are also with motivation, then. While hoping to guard their unbeaten record they would relish the opportunity to also tarnish Manchester United’s imperious away record in the league this season.

Throw in the penalty debate which has seen Klopp questioning why his side are not winning more penalties like Manchester United and you know that English Football’s biggest rivalry has been awakened.

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In anticipation of the crucial encounter, therefore, we take a look at the form guide of both sides, team news as well as the thoughts of the managers.

Form Guide

Liverpool head into this encounter on the back of a 1-0 loss to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton in their most recent Premier League game.

Former Liverpool forward, Danny Ings early first-half goal was enough for the Saints to secure the vital win. The loss meant that Liverpool have failed to win a game in their last three appearances since their 7-0 humiliation of Crystal Palace.

Before the Southampton defeat, Klopp’s men had settled for draws against West Bromich Albion and Newcastle United.

Manchester United, on the other hand, edged out Sean Dyche’s Burnley on Wednesday night at Turf Moor in their last Premier League fixture to go top of the table.

Paul Pogba’s second-half strike ensured victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s troops, who have amassed 13 points out of a possible 15 points in their last five games.

Liverpool vs Manchester United Head-to-Head

In the 33 previous matches played between the two teams, the Red Devils hold the clear advantage. They have won 15 games, lost 11 and drawn seven.

Managers’ thoughts

Jurgen Klopp

Ahead of the game, Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp reserved special praise for Solskjaer and the incredible work he has done with his Manchester United side.

“Clearly, given the passionate rivalry between our two great clubs it would be pushing to say I’m delighted to see Man United doing so well this campaign,” he wrote in the official Liverpool programme. “But I can say I am pleased for Ole specifically.

“Such a good guy and a very good coach and leader. It is not difficult to see how much the club means to him when he speaks about it. In Ole, United have a person who has the best interests of the organisation running through him, from head to toes.

“As I say, as Liverpool manager I can’t be jumping with joy to see them strong, but I can say I am not surprised. It was entirely expected from my perspective.

“They have given Ole superb backing on and off the pitch and are now reaping the benefits. Big investment into the team and the squad while allowing a manager and his staff time to develop their methods.

“I know from my experiences here that things do not happen quickly simply because expectations demand that they do.”

Solskjaer

United’s manager also recognized the improvements that have been made since his appointment and echoed Marcus Rashford’s comments that his side are in a better place than they were a year ago. 

“We’re a much better side now than a year ago, he said. Then again, we lost that game to a [Virgil] van Dijk header from a corner and a counter-attack in the last kick of the game on our corner.

So we were not a million miles away then either. I think that’s a misperception if people say we were a million miles away. We did have some moments in that game ourselves.

The league position, that we are competitive, that we are up there with six, seven, eight teams, of course it’s a tighter season this year. I think the last few years, there have been two teams running away with it already by the end of October. Now, at least, we’re in it at halfway.”

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool will be without centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who are both out with long-term injuries. Summer signing Diogo Jota and Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas are also out. There are doubts over the availability of centre-back Joel Matip but he is expected to start  whiles  Guinean midfielder Naby Keita is likely to sit out.

Manchester United Team News

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United will be without centre-back Phil Jones and Argentine defender Marcos Rojo as they continue to nurse their injuries.

Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelof and French attacker Anthony Martial are doubtful after sustaining knocks in their previous game. Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri tested positive for COVID-19 a week ago and is not available.

Predicted XI

Liverpool Predicted XI (4-3-3):

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Manchester United Predicted XI (4-3-3):

David de Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Fred, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial

Match details

Venue: Anfield

Kick-off time: 16:30 GMT

Referee: Paul Tierney

Assistants: Lee Betts, Constantine Hatzidakis.

Fourth official: Craig Pawson.

VAR: Stuart Attwell.

Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt.

 

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Kayson Papa Nketsiah Jr

He aims to create something brilliant daily. Eager to learn more. He uses his free time to get better at what interests him, whether it's entertainment, gaming, or even something entirely new

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