I present you with the Man Utd side
Man Utd XI to face Liverpool: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, McTominay, Greenwood, van de Beek, Rashford, Cavani; Subs: de Gea, Mata, Martial, Fred, Fernandes, James, Telles, Matic, Tuanzebe
Bar Fernandes being rested it looks like a full-strength side Solksjaer has gone with. Van de Beek gets a rare chance to impress from the start, with Cavani on from minute one Martial starts on the bench.
Recently when these two sides face each other all hope that a classic may ensue has been well and truly kicked into Row Z by the half-hour mark – Exhibit A: last Sunday’s 0-0 bore draw.
There was a time, however, when Manchester United facing their arch-rivals Liverpool produced exciting, end-to-end matches. Clashes that lifted the soul and reminded you why you love the game so much.
One such match that will remain long in the memory is the FA Cup fourth round clash in 1999 that saw United beat Liverpool with an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer strike in the last minute.
Read all about the exciting ding dong here and why the scorer of the winner and current United boss wants his side to use it as motivation for the rest of the season.
Liverpool’s turn to have a slump
This is the season of Covid-19, the season of no fans at stadiums, of Var controversy, and of every side succumbing to at least one dreaded slump.
At the moment it’s the turn of Liverpool to question what’s gone wrong with their season. Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley not only ended a four-year, 68-match unbeaten record at Anfield but also, in some people’s eyes, their title defence. That may well be a bit hyperbolic – an annoying feature of modern-day football – but there is little doubt that all is not well with Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool are without a goal in four Premier League matches and now find themselves six points behind Manchester United in the table, back in fourth place. Sometimes an FA Cup match can provide some welcome distraction, a chance to find those scoring boots and mojo and get back into the swing of things. Sometimes.
But today’s Cup clash is against none other than arch-rivals Manchester United and another defeat is unthinkable in terms of confidence, pride and trying to push back on the idea that there is anything approaching a crisis at Anfield.
Klopp has admitted he and his star-studded squad are trying work out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.
“The last thing we are looking for are excuses,” he said. “On Thursday (against Burnley) we had 28 shots and six on target. I heard we had 90 shots in the last four games for one goal. That’s obviously a number we don’t want to have. We will talk the things through and try it again. If we can change it immediately on Sunday, I don’t know. But we will not stop trying, I promise.”
Liverpool last faced United all of 168 hours ago – a drab, instantly forgettable 0-0 draw at Anfield. The hosts may not have lost but the manner of their display more than hinted at the fact this Liverpool side isn’t the same one that thrilled their way to the title last summer.
Meeting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side again so soon may be a curse or a blessing. Win and the darkening mood will be instantly improved. Lose and the atmosphere becomes more bleak. Klopp will doubtless pick a strong starting line-up knowing that goals and victories are what his side need right now.
Stay here for all the team news, pre-match build-up and action.