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Preview: Manchester United vs Liverpool

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There is no exaggeration when people say that Manchester United vs Liverpool is the biggest game in English Football. The game pits English Football's two biggest clubs against each other once again in their long storied rivalry. For Manchester United this Sunday, it's all about halting Liverpool's title charge at the weekend as well as establishing out their top 4 ambitions, whereas Liverpool will see this game as a huge statement of intent if they win and that said win could prove very important as they chase down that elusive 19th league title win, which has evaded them for 29 years.

 

Both clubs in retrospect are very similar to each other. Location wise they are only 34 miles apart with a trip down the M62, both Manchester United and Liverpool have suffered tragedies which still have lasting effects on English football namely The Munich Air Disaster and Hillsborough. Both Manchester United and Liverpool have had spells of dominance in English football also. The Liverpool team of the mid-'70s and '80s were truly one of the first teams in English football to not only maintain dominance in the league (old Division one at the time) winning 11 league titles in that spell with their last one coming in 1989-90 season respectively. They added four European Cups to that impressive league tally as Liverpool were the dominant force in English football. 

Since the advent of the Premier League, however, it's Liverpool's fiercest rivals down the M62 which have claimed their throne at the top of English football. Under Sir Alex Ferguson over a 20 year period, Manchester United clawed back the league title tally and turned it in the favour by winning 13 league titles taking their tally to 20 overall which when that accomplishment was achieved has only added more fuel to the rivalry and when the football calendar is announced, this is one of the first games fans look to.

This fixture sees a change of fortunes for Manchester United, as they are currently the in-form team in the Premier League since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over. Since the appointment of the Norwegian following the 3-1 defeat at Anfield in December, United have won 8 out of their 9 games in the league which has seen their prospects of top four dramatically improved to the point where they are currently fourth, one point ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

For Liverpool, they have continued on from that great win over United and are currently second in the league with the game against United being their game in hand over title rivals Manchester City. Avoid defeat and Liverpool go back to the top of the table as Manchester City are currently occupied with Carabao Cup final action against Chelsea. Last time out, as mentioned it was a 3-1 win to Liverpool in the end. That result proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the reign of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. Xherdan Shaqiri was the standout performer for Liverpool, coming off the bench to score twice as Liverpool ran out with the comfortable win.

 

That game was particularly noticeable with the absence of Paul Pogba who at that time had fallen out with Mourinho and was left out of the team as an unused substitute as United lacked a huge dose of creativity in that midfield. Since Mourinho's departure, he has shown why United spent all that money on him with his current run of form arguably being the best patch of form since the £90 million move with four goals and an assist in his last five league games and has become a focal point of this resurgent Manchester United side.

Team News

Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard could return on Sunday. The duo was expected to be out until early March with injuries sustained against Paris Saint-Germain, but both may be available for Liverpool's visit, with Solskjaer more optimistic about Martial (groin) than Lingard (hamstring).

Manchester United's Anthony Martial//Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Liverpool will still be missing the likes of Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Joe Gomez (ankle) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) with injury, but Virgil van Dijk does return after being suspended for Tuesday's Champions League draw with Bayern Munich.

 Lead Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons via Football.ua




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