The early kick off this weekend sees the eagerly awaited first meeting of England’s two most successful teams – and bitter rivals in this year’s Premiership season. But what can we expect? Writes Sam May.
History it is said goes out of the window, as does form in this fixture, but there are signs and pointers as to what could happen. Manchester United sit proudly at the top of the pile whist Liverpool languish already in seventh place, so yet again their seasons highlight so far would be to beat the old enemy. Are they likely to do it?
The difference between the two sides is blindingly obvious – United don’t have better players, but what they do have is much better than the Merseysiders at present, is a manager who knows how to win, and win ugly if needs be. Two recent perfect examples highlight the different approaches to managing the game, to win. United at Southampton produced a 1-0 win for the Red Devils. That’s all that mattered.
They scored a goal, got their noses in front and soaked up the pressure, and lots of pressure it was. In the second half the Saints had over 70% possession and lots of chances, but the Red Devils stood firm, packed the midfield and latterly the defence. Made the goal small by packing the goal line from set pieces and protected the world-class goalkeeper David De Gea.
Liverpool on their recent trip to the former champions Leicester City – who beat them 2-0 in the corresponding fixture last season, worked hard to get into a 2-0 lead going into the last play of the first half. A corner swung in, nobody inside any post making the goal as big as can be.
Simon Mignolet was afforded no protection from any outfield player and was man handled by Shinji Okazaki as he tried to come to punch. Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno were 12 yards from goal marking nothing and nobody. Had both been on posts the Reds would have gone in at half time two up. This would have played into their counter attack in the second half and no doubt the game would have been over. As it was it took the keeper to save splendidly from Vardy to secure the 3 points. But luck doesn’t last.
Jürgen Klopp will probably get a lesson on how to win, and win ugly. No prizes for excitement, it’s all about the points, so expect the men from Manchester to plunder all three.