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Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani to make Liverpool pay for their lack of form? Van de Beek to start against the Scouse side?

Manchester United and Liverpool will meet for the second time this season after they were drawn against each other in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup. The match will be the first meeting at Old Trafford this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have flipped Liverpool in recent weeks, now topping the Premier League and having a six-point cushion over the Merseyside club. Jurgen Klopp has not seen his team score in the Premier League since their 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion on the 27 December 2020, which is something that will end up costing the club in their pursuit to retain the Premier League title this season.

Solskjaer’s will be confident ahead of this clash after drawing 0-0 with Liverpool at Anfield in the past week, which saw them slip from the top spot in the league earlier in the week with Leicester City and then Manchester City topping the league table. However, the 2-1 victory over Fulham saw United claim their spot at the top of the league once more, although City still have a game in hand over United, which gives the noisy neighbours an advantage. With the Premier League on hold until next week, United will be seeking to continue their success in the FA Cup this season, aiming to better the semi-final stage they reached last season.

How United have faired against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

United and Liverpool have played 17 times in the history of the FA Cup. United have won nine of the meetings, drawing four and losing four. United have scored a total of 25 goals with Liverpool scoring 17 goals. United have kept a total of four clean sheets against Liverpool in the oldest domestic cup tournament in England. It shows that United have, at least in the past, had the upper hand over their North West rivals which could further upset the Merseyside club this season after they have failed to score in the Premier League since their 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on the 27 December 2020.

United last faced Liverpool in the FA Cup on the 28 January 2012, losing 2-1 to Kenny Dalglish’s side with Ji-Sung Park scoring United’s only goal and Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt scoring in the fourth round clash at Anfield. United also faced Liverpool in the season prior, meeting in the third round of the competition at Old Trafford. It was a 1-0 victory for United with Ryan Giggs scoring a penalty in the second minute of the match. United have beaten Liverpool three times in the FA Cup at Old Trafford with Liverpool winning just once at the Theatre of Dreams in the competition – and that was back on the 12 January 1921.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Liverpool in the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Sunday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea will be seeking to start against Liverpool in the Emirates FA Cup this season despite the fact that Dean Henderson has started inn both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup so far this season. As good as Henderson is, I think De Gea would be a better fit in this match. Henderson played twice against Liverpool whilst on loan at Sheffield United, losing 1-0 and 2-0 with Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah and Said Mane all scoring against him. De Gea could be the difference to United going into the fifth round or losing in he fourth round. He will be up for facing Liverpool right now.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles

United’s defence have started to show a lot of improvement this season. More recently, Eric Bailly’s partnership with Harry Maguire has worked well to the point that Bailly could be considered as the main partner to the club captain this season. However, with Victor Lindelof back from a lower back injury, it is likely that he will start alongside Maguire against Liverpool. Luke Shaw has risen in stature recently, but to keep him fresh for the challenge ahead, I think Alex Telles could start ahead of him in this match with Aaron Wan-Bissaka keeping his place at right-back. This will be a big game for the United defence.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

United’s midfield is full of talent and intent and it will case any manager a headache in terms of which players are to be selected for each upcoming match. At this moment in time, both Fred and Paul Pogba are in some sort of positive form with Fred able to run throughout the match, making opposition players and ensuring that United’s midfield find some kind of positivity in creativity with those further forward. Paul Pogba has scored some stunning goals recently, which have become important for United. Despite the fact the Frenchman has been misplacing passes, he should be picked to play alongside Fred against Liverpool.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial

This area is the most profitable area for United in terms of goals and assists. I reckon Bruno Fernandes will start as he is a player that offers so much to this United squad. However, of late, despite his determination playing a part, he has looked tired. I feel that him sitting on the bench in this match might give United something to offer later in the game. Donny van de Beek could play in the advanced role as he will need some game time otherwise his signing would seem fruitless. Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial could flank Van de Beek and help provide something for Cavani, who will be leading the line against Liverpool.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan striker has scored five goals and two assists for his new club but for some the jury is still out as to whether he is the striker that United need. Not for me though. I have seen a lot that makes me see what Edinson Cavani offers to United. His positioning is second to none, his hold up play in the box if great and he has an eye for a goal and a head for scoring them. At this moment in time, Cavani is a much better striker than Anthony Martial and for that reason, I feel that he should be leading the line more often than the Frenchman, unless two strikers is being used, but Solskjaer uses the 4-2-3-1 formation much of the time.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw; Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri, Scott McTominay; Marcus Rashford

United will have nine named substitutes on the bench in the FA Cup against Liverpool and will have three opportunities (excluding the half time break) to make a maximum of five substitutions. Any unused substitutions will be available to use in extra time, should the match go that far with an additional substitution added. Dean Henderson will most likely remain on the bench with Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw likely the other three defensive players. In midfield, Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri and Nemanja Matic with Marcus Rashford as the only attacking player on the bench.

Written by John Walker

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