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Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, Greenwood, Fernandes and Rashford fired up to face Liverpool; Pogba and McTominay in midfield?

Manchester United will travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to take on Liverpool in the Premier League. After beating Burnley earlier in the week, United move to the top of the Premier League table, three points clear of Liverpool ahead of this clash. A victory would see United extend their lead to six points over the current champions with a draw meaning they stay three points clear and a defeat will see United slip back into second-place on goal difference. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have done well this season to recover from their poor form at the very start of the season.

The ABU’s continue to mock United being at the top of the Premier League table at this moment in time, despite their own team’s failure and those so-called United supporters who do not value Solskjaer seem to suggest that United are only top in spite of, not because of Solskjaer, which is incredulous to say the least. United will be seeking to maintain the pressure on Liverpool this season which could become a title race providing that United continue to win their matches. United have not beaten Liverpool since the 10 March 2018 with the club unbeaten at Anfield since 2017.

How United have faired against Liverpool in the Premier League.

United and Liverpool have played 57 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28 of the meetings, drawing 14 and losing 15. United have scored a total of 77 goals, winning five penalties and scoring three of them. Liverpool have scored 63 goals, winning six penalties and scoring five of them. United have kept 17 cleans sheets with Liverpool keeping 14. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 103 yellow cards with nine red cards being shown. Liverpool have been shown 88 yellow cards with seven red cards. This is an important match for United – a win will see them six points clear of the reigning champions.

In this match at Anfield last season, which was played on the 19 January 2020, it was a 2-0 victory for Liverpool with Virgil van Dijk opening the scoring in the 14 minute of the match, assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah sealing the win three minutes into added time, assisted by Alisson. In the fixture at Old Trafford, which was played on the 20 October 2019, it was a 1-1 draw with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring in the 36th minute of the match, assisted by Daniel James and Adam Lallana equalising in the 85th minute of the match, assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has made some massive improvements this season and is part of the reason why United are starting to regain pace in the Premier League. Whilst being at the top of the league means nothing right now, it is the first time that United have looked like the team they used to be post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Granted, United have won trophies under both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but in terms of having a plan, Solskjaer is the manager that has started to put United on the road to winning trophies. De Gea is integral to United achieving things and Dean Henderson’s challenge will only aid that.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence seems to have found some form with Victor Lindelof being on the sidelines through injury which has given Eric Bailly a chance to shine and that is what he has been doing of late. It could give Lindelof a tough task to get back into the squad, at least in a starting position with Bailly;s partnership with Harry Maguire looking good so far. This match will be a test of that partnership though. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should play in the fullback positions against Liverpool with Wan-Bissaka’s defensive attributes being good and Telles’ attacking credentials being of benefit.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

This is a problem area at this time with so much talent and so far positions in the starting XI. Scott McTominay will be up for the challenge of Liverpool this season, doing well in the last few matches including scoring the quickest brace in the Premier League when United demolished Leeds United before Christmas. Paul Pogba should partner McTominay in midfield as his performance against Burley earlier in the week developed into the second half of the match, which resulted in United scoring the only goal of the game. Both Pogba and McTominay have scored in recent matches now – something both will be seeking to do this weekend.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

This formation has been Solskjaer’s go to formation this season, but there is a chance he might switch things a little to face Liverpool, which in the past has both worked and failed in big matches. Personally, I feel sticking to the same formation would be beneficial, switching it in play if needed. Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have scored a total of 32 goals and 20 assists between them so far this season, which is a good haul of goals and assists, continuing the form of the trio last season. I am sure that all three of them will be seeking to score or assist against Liverpool to keep United at the top of the league.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani, I believe is the best striker at the club at the present time. Granted, he has only scored four goals and two assists this season – six goal contributions but in terms of the positioning on the pitch, he can find spaces that Anthony Martial has not been able to find, helping the Frenchman for the future. Cavani was banned for three matches this season and started against Burnley earlier in the week. Martial was injured and is currently a doubt for the Liverpool match, so based on that I have suggested that Cavani will start. United would do well with his experience and I am sure he will savour the pressure in this big match.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Daniel James, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Odion Ighalo

United will continue to be able to name nine substitutes on the bench in the Premier League, using just three of them. In the FA Cup, they are able to use five, which will be the same in the UEFA Europa League when it starts next month, although the remainder of the squad named in the competition will be named on the bench. Against Liverpool, Dean Henderson will be back on the bench, this being a big match so he will be there if needed. In defence, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe could provide something if needed. In midfield, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic’s experience, Daniel James’ pace and Donny van de Beek’s ability in and outside the box could come into play. In attack, Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo could provide something, if they are needed to change the outcome of the game.

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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