• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The battle of the Reds’: Man United face Liverpool’s Anfield test

Liverpool-ManUnited

 

Liverpool-ManUnited

Liverpool and Manchester United fans will be eager to watch the hotly anticipated derby of the Barclays Premier League encounter this weekend. The two rivals meet at Anfield on Sunday, with both side’s looking to push on in their quests for Champions League football next season.

Sunday’s cracker will be the 194th edition of arguably the most famous rivalry in English football, as United make the short trip to do battle with Liverpool. The two sides are fighting to get into the top four and both go into the game on the back of 3-3 draws. United have had the upper hand in this fixture recently, having won the last three encounters.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is relishing Sunday’s massive clash against Man United and described derbies as the ‘salt in the soup’.

The German, who celebrated his 100 days in charge at Anfield on Friday, is looking forward to hosting the Red Devils in one of the most hotly-anticipated matches of the season following Wednesday’s 3-3 draw at home to Arsenal.

“I love derbies,’ said Klopp ahead of the Sunday’s derby. ‘It’s the salt in the soup. They are the best matches to perform.”

Klopp said he needs to be entertained by football but accepts his United counterpart Louis van Gaal has a different idea.

Sunday’s clash between the North-West rivals will also be a clash of styles; the Dutchman’s tactics against the German’s high-energy game.

Although Klopp would not criticise Van Gaal’s approach, which has angered Red Devils fans, he insists it is not a way he can operate.

“I am not too close with the news about Manchester United in the week. The stories going around I am not interested in,” he said.

“Van Gaal is one of the most successful managers in the world. He has a special idea of football and as an opponent you have to respect this.

“I am a football fan and if I watch football I like to be entertained, it is one of the most important things in football.”

On Tuesday, United were denied a third consecutive win in all competitions at the start of 2016, when Paul Dummett netted a late equaliser for Newcastle United at St James’ Park. The following day, it was Liverpool who were scoring a last-gasp leveller to secure a 3-3 draw, at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal.

The Merseysiders’ league form has been average, with two wins, two draws and two defeats from their last six league games, and they are ninth in the table, three points behind United.

United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phil Jones missed the Newcastle game with knee and ankle injuries respectively. Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw are all still sidelined.

Liverpool also have several injury worries, with key player Philippe Coutinho, Martin Skrtel and Divock Origi all out, and both Daniel Sturridge and Dejan Lovren struggling to be fit in time for this weekend’s clash. Danny Ings and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees but Steven Caulker has been drafted in on loan.

“In recent times, we’ve done very well against them so we’re very confident of going there and causing them a problem.”– Chris Smalling

“These games are always great occasions, games you want to be involved in as professionals and look forward to.” – Joe Allen.

Verdict

With Coutinho sidelined, Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino has stepped up to the plate as both a creative and goalscoring threat for Klopp’s side, netting twice in the midweek draw with Arsenal. Christian Benteke remains a formidable presence up front and scored a spectacular overhead kick in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford in September, his third in consecutive fixtures against the Reds after his Aston Villa exploits.

The clash at Anfield could witness lots of goals. Both teams showed encouraging signs going forward in midweek but were poor in defence.

Van Gaal has suddenly discovered how to be entertaining after the 3-3 draw with Newcastle.

Liverpool have few fit defenders and so a goal-feast on Sunday might likely to happen or both sides will be so tense and anxious to avoid defeat it’ll be extremely tight and cautious.

 

Anthony Nlebem