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Preview: Liverpool are there for the taking in the FA Cup and Manchester United should be looking to punish them

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Manchester United -v- Liverpool

Emirates FA Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 24 January 2021, KO 17:00 GMT

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Gary Beswick, Richard West

Fourth Official: Jonathan Moss

VAR: Andre Marriner Assistant VAR: Marc Perry

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.

Manchester United: WDWWLW

Fulham 2-1 W, Liverpool 0-0 D, Burnley 1-0 W, Watford 1-0 W, Manchester City 2-0 L, Aston Villa 2-1 W

Liverpool: LDWLDD

Burnley 1-0 L, Manchester United 0-0 D, Aston Villa 4-1 W, Southampton 1-0 L, Newcastle United 0-0 D, West Bromwich Albion 1-1 D

Top Scorers: Liverpool have not scored since they beat Aston Villa in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup a few weeks ago. Mohamed Saha has 17 goals this season with Bruno Fernandes having 15.

Manchester United Goals: 15 – Bruno Fernandes, 14 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 4 – Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, 3 – Mason Greenwood, 2 – Daniel James, Juan Mata, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

In their last six matches, United have won four times, drawn once and lost once. Solskjaer’s side have scored a total of six goals, conceding four goals and keeping three clean sheets. The only defeat in the last six matches was against Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup with the draw in the Premier League between United and Liverpool. In the last round of the FA Cup, United beat Watford 1-0 at Old Trafford and they will be seeking to win once again this season to reach the fifth round of the competition, facing wither West Ham United or Doncaster Rovers at Old Trafford next month.

Liverpool Goals: 17 – Mohamed Salah, 9 – Diogo Jota, Sadio Mané, 5 – Roberto Firmino, 4 – Takumi Minamino, 3 – Curtis Jones, 2 – Georginio Wijnaldum, 1 – Marko Grujic, Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Divock Origi, Andrew Robertson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Virgil van Dijk

In their last six matches, Liverpool have won once, drawn three times and lost twice. Klopp’s side have scored five goals, conceding three and keeping two clean sheets. This is not great form from the reigning Premier League champions, not scoring in the league since the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the end of December. Klopp’s side will be seeking to keep their FA Cup run alive this season, beating United and setting up a fifth round clash with either West Ham United or Doncaster Rovers next month. However, they will need to get over their recent hoodoo which saw them lose a lot of confidence in recent matches.

Team News: Three players ruled out for United, four ruled out for Liverpool. United will be confident with the players they have in their squad this season, which for me puts them in an advantageous position to win this clash.

Phil Jones (knee), Brandon Williams (knock) and Marcos Rojo (calf) have all been ruled out of the clash with Liverpool. Facundo Pellistri (coronavirus) was tested earlier this week and has not been stated as still out of action, so if he has returned to training and is showing good signs of fitness, he could at least be involved against Liverpool. With the news that Jesse Lingard will be removed from United’s core squad this season and Amad Diallo will be added, it could see some kind of involvement of the Ivorian, who made the permanent move from Atalanta earlier in the month. Many will be excited to see him, if now is the time for that.

Virgil van Dijk (knee), Joe Gomez (knee), Diogo Jota (knee) and Naby Keita (other) have all been ruled out of the FA Cup clash with United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Jordan Henderson (muscular) has a 50% chance of being fit for the match, which will see him undergo a late fitness test for him to be part of the travelling squad to face their North West rivals. Klopp will be hoping that his squad has enough to take on the might of United, who are full of confidence at this stage of the season, which is great to see. Liverpool need to start finding confidence in themselves to have a chance in this match. Recently, lost confidence has cost them as a team.

Predicted Starting XI: Cavani, Martial, Van de Beek and Greenwood to lead the attack against Liverpool with Solskjaer looking to reach the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup this season?

Solskjaer has stated that he could play four forwards against Liverpool, which is possible with the number of attacking players he has in his squad this season. However, I see that as a tongue-in-cheek comment which may result in many journalists over thinking what formation he could use against Liverpool in his second match against the club this season. I think Edinson Cavani could lead the attack, flanked by both Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood with Donny van de Beek playing in the advanced position, giving a slight rest to Bruno Fernandes, who could come off the bench for the club, should he be needed.

Match Prediction: There have been 17 meetings between United and Liverpool in the FA Cup with United winning nine, draw four and losing four. United have scored 25 goals, conceding 17 and keeping four clean sheets.

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.

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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