Manchester United face Liverpool in the match that was rescheduled because of the protest against the Glazers which stopped the team leaving the Lowry Hotel in Manchester and also saw supporters enter the Theatre of Dreams when ended up with the match being postponed on safety grounds. Old Trafford now resembles a battle ground with barriers and fences erected to stop the same thing from happening on Thursday evening. United confirmed their place in next seasons UEFA Champions League on Sunday after their 3-1 victory over Aston Villa and will complete their three Premier League matches in five days with this match.
United were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City and if it was not for Caglar Soyuncu’s header in the 66th minute of the match, the club would have struggled to beat United. After the match, Liverpool supporters were moaning about match fixing, despite United using players from their squad list (25 players), which can also include as many U21 players as the manager chooses. You would think that United cost Liverpool UEFA Champions League football next season, when in actual fact, it was Liverpool that did that by becoming one hit wonders and having a very poor season as the Premier League champions, which is now a distant memory.
How United have faired against Liverpool in the Premier League.
United and Liverpool have played 58 times in the history of the Premier League and have a rivalled history. United have won 28 times, drawing 15 and losing 15. The Red Devils have scored a total of 77 goals with Liverpool scoring 63. United have been awarded five penalties, scoring three of them with Liverpool being awarded six and scoring five of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets with Liverpool keeping 15. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 104 yellow cards with nine red cards whereas Liverpool have been shown 90 yellow cards and seven red cards. More fierce rivalry to be expected this weekend?
Earlier this season, United ground out a fraught 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League, knowing that they would face the club just a week later in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. In that match, United won 3-2 with Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scoring the goals for United and Mohamed Salah scoring a brace for Liverpool. Last season at Anfield, United lost 2-0 but drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. This weekend, United will be seeking to defeat Liverpool, which might even dent their chances of a top four place this season, with them, at the time of writing, in sixth and four points adrift of Chelsea.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Liverpool in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening…
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson
Dean Henderson looks to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s choice for the number one goalkeeper at United heading into the future. Some supporters do not think he will do a good job as they are against change. David De Gea has been calamitous over the past few seasons, but has shown his ability this season, especially against AS Roma in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second lag last week. But changes happen in football and we are powerless to stop it. Henderson is a great goalkeeper but some foreign fans seem to preach xenophobia in an English club having English players, which is part of the ruled and the identity of English football clubs. Henderson has my support moving forward but it will be hard seeing De Gea leave too, if he does.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw
Harry Maguire looks unlikely to play in any of the remaining Premier League matches after his ankle ligament injustice sustained against Aston Villa at the weekend. It is a major blow to United’s defence – even the people that have slated Maguire for the entire season are upset. You just cannot make it up. It is clear that he is the glue that binds this defence together and without him, United are much weaker. Against Liverpool, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw should all be recalled into the team with Axel Tuanzebe keeping his place after his performance against Leicester City, which showed him as the best defender in that defence. Tuanzebe deserves to play more football and his time could be now.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred
No matter what anyone says, Scott McTominay and Fred are Solskjaer’s go-to players for the pivot positions in the centre of midfield. Many will suggest that McTominay is not a player that United need and they he should be sold but he is a player that gives his all. Some fans only want the best midfielders at the club but Manchester United is not a galactic club and should never be that. McTominay has seven goals to his name this season, equaling Anthony Martial’s efforts – who was having a bad season before his knee injury. Fred is a player that could well be replaced in the summer, as he’s not a typical United player and seems clueless at times but in terms of work rate, he gives his all which is good to see. He should be lauded for that.
Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba
This is the area where the majority of the goals are this season. Usually, you will see Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford occupy these positions but as Greenwood played the majority of the match on Tuesday, he should be on the bench for this match. Those three players are responsible for 59 goals and 37 assists so far this season. With Greenwood on the bench, Rashford will move to the right with Paul Pogba filling in on the left, which is where he has played a few times this season. Pogba has six goals and seven assists to his name this season, which is a positive output considering the problems he has had. United should have enough experience and firepower here to cause Liverpool some problems.
Forwards: Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani, fresh from signing his new contract at the club, even if it is just an extra season, will be in full confidence ahead of the Liverpool clash. He played just over 20 minutes in the defeat to Leicester and it was only the second in eight matches that he had not scored. Having scored 15 goals and assisted four times so far this season, he is a player that knows that he’s the best striker at the club and can also create chances and open up ore space for other players to find the back of the net. He is lethal with his headers and will be a tricky player for Liverpool’s back four to contend with. Cavani will be looking forward to facing Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams just as much as he will to play inside a full stadium, which could happen next season.
Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Mason Greenwood
Solskjaer heavily rotated his squad against Leicester, although it was not a bad team, or a youthful one at that. The fallout from that has been funny to watch with Trevor Sinclair wanting a points deduction but when Manchester City did similar, twice, nothing was said at all. Whatever makes these people relevant, right. David De Gea will be back on the bench, should he be needed. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams will be available. In midfield, Juan Mata, Amad Diallo, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek will be there, should they be needed and in attack, Mason Greenwood will be the only attacking player on the bench. United have enough firepower, experience and ability to get a rise out of Liverpool. Who will they blame then?
Written by John Walker