It’s Jose Mourinho’s turn to defend his kingdom, as Jurgen Klopp marches to Old Trafford this Sunday for one of the biggest games of the Premier League calendar. Manchester United v Liverpool. Just don’t mention the fact that this fixture earlier in the season was a bigger flop than England at a major tournament.
As the scouse invaders look to stake their claim as the rulers of the North West, the fixture gives The Special One the chance to earn the respect of United fans, and to follow his predecessor Louis van Gaal, who never lost a league game against Liverpool in his time wearing the crown.
There may be no dragons or dwarves in this episode, but there are two rival giants who are out for blood, three points and a decent dose of bragging rights.
Fortress Old Trafford
It may have been a good few seasons since the opposition was truly terrified of marching to Stretford to face United, but with Mourinho’s side now unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions on home turf, there may be some cause for clean undies for Klopp.
We can think of 12 reasons, with The Red Devils victorious in their last 12 of 15 games against Liverpool at Old Trafford, with a win rate of 80%. The Reds last tasted victory in their rival’s terrority back in March 2014, where they grabbed a 3-0 win courtesy of two Steven Gerrard penalties and a late goal from Luis Suarez.
Manchester United go into the game as favourites, priced at 6/5 to make it ten successive victories, their longest winning streak since 2009. A win would also close the gap to just two points behind their Merseyside rivals. Klopp’s men head into the game at 5/2 on the back of a disappointing loss against Southampton in the League Cup and a draw against Sunderland in the league. It’s been a long time since David Moyes has been called a ‘football genius’.
There’s some irony in the fact that Mourinho may look to Juan Mata for this fixture. He has scored the most goals against the ‘big six’ amongst midfielders, outranking Phil Coutinho, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard. This includes a fairly memorable scissor kick at Anfield back in 2015. You can get 11/2 for Mata to score and United to win this weekend, following his midweek goal against Reading.
After growing up on the blue half of Merseyside, Wayne Rooney may be given the opportunity to beat Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record on Sunday. It would feel even sweeter to smash the record against his boyhood rivals and he is priced at 7/4 to do just that.