I believe Jurgen Klopp will today have the edge over Jose Mourinho in all three main areas of the pitch.
Above all you can see that Liverpool are better organised than United right now. Klopp has had almost a season more than Mourinho to influence how his team plays and the whole thing is beginning to click for him. Liverpool look better organised as an attacking unit, they have real pace, and they have sorted out that dodgy rearguard of theirs.
Jurgen Klopp is bound to belief that his side will have what it takes to in at Old Trafford. Yet for all the momentum his side have right now they are still behind United in the table and as I know only too well anything can happen in these games.
This is how I assess the teams right now.
Liverpool’s top three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah Salah are on fire. Once the ball is in and around them they are incredibly difficult to control.
That is not to say that Romelu Lukaku is not dangerous. Or that the threat of Jesse Lingard or Anthony Martial is not real. But the Kop threesome have 78 goals between them.
The number accumulated by United’s recognised front men Lukaku, Lingard, Martial, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez, who has just the one from his eight games alone, is 20 less. That stat alone tells you a lot.
Another big problem for United have is that Lukaku’s ball retention is poor – it just doesn’t stick when you play it into his feet.
The Liverpool attack is three–dimensional. United’s too often seems to come down to Lukaku. And where, exactly, does Sanchez play? Does he even know?
If he goes drifting deep again as he has done more and more since he got there, Lukaku is going to have a long, lonely day.
Liverpool have legs in this area, the most crucial on the pitch for this game. By comparison United don’t really.
It is OK going forward with the ball but it is your recovery runs when the ball is lost that count to get back in behind and get your shape again. I am not sure that Nemanja Matic especially, has what it takes to do that and that means United will struggle with the pace of Liverpool.
Matic is now playing so deep – almost between the two centre backs as we saw in the first half against Crystal Palace this week. Matic is a very good player but these days his legs can’t get him around the pitch.
Liverpool, however, can run and run box to box as in the shape of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A lot has been said about Paul Pogba and a lack of impact from him.
But Matic, in particular, has to be accountable for the fact that there is such a gap between what he effectively turns into a back five and the Frenchman.
Matic should be taking control of midfield. He is not doing that
But Liverpool have bundles of legs – that way they can support their front three and get back to protect the defence.
Getting in Van Dijk has been massive for Liverpool. Why United didn’t try for him in January I can’t work out. Are you telling me that Victor Linderof and Chris Smalling are better centre backs that Van Dijk? I don’t think so.
He is a leader, he is a talker, something that Liverpool had struggled with for a long time before he arrived. He organises the back four.
And now Klopp has a goalkeeper in Loris Karius who knows he is the No 1 and is playing with that kind of belief that has added to a new stability at the back.
I think Luke Shaw should play because United look more balanced with him in the side but if Jose Mourinho goes for Ashley Young and Anthony Valencia they will struggle against the likes of Salah and Mane.
When you look at the whole balance of the teams from back to front then Liverpool right now are a better – equipped team than United. But Jose Mourinho does have David De Gea in goal. And at Palace, as we have seen for the umpteenth time over the past couple of season, he is in a class of his own.