Gibbons: Forget United’s revival, Liverpool are still a much better team

Recent headlines might suggest United not Liverpool are the title-challengers, but John Gibbons says there's no comparison when you look at the teams...

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Old Trafford isn’t the most fun away trip of the season, if I am honest. The schedule normally runs a bit like this. Meet up early because the game has been moved to about 11am. Get bussed into Manchester on a coach with no alcohol because football fans can’t be trusted. Get whisked into the ground as quickly as possible. Spend 90 minutes getting called poor/a murderer. (Usually) get beat. Get held in the ground until all the Mancunians have got bored and go home. Go home. Say you’re going to watch it the pub next year.

It’s basically football without all the laughs but all of the intensity. It is the least fun place to get beat, which is a shame as we usually get beat. Usually, but not always. It is notable that the years we have been going for the title, 01-02, 08-09, 13-14, we have actually won there, which is a decent omen for Sunday.

Soccer Football – Champions League – Group Stage – Group H – Manchester United v Valencia – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – October 2, 2018 General view inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Phil Noble

Liverpool to win 2-1 is 8/1 now on PaddyPower.com

I mean we didn’t actually go on to win the title those years, but we’ll forget about that for now. Point is Manchester United have usually beaten us in recent years at Old Trafford because they have usually had a better team. When we’ve been good, we’ve won, and this Liverpool team are very good.

Forget what you read and hear about Manchester United’s renaissance or Liverpool’s “wobble”. This is still a much better Liverpool team than the Manchester United one. Defensively it is night and day. United might have one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but they have been scratching and rotating for a decent back four all year, whilst Liverpool have conceded just 15 goals all season and will welcome Virgil Van Djik back from suspension.

Attacking wise there is obviously talent at Old Trafford, but they’d still kill for a Salah, Mane or Firmino. In midfield Paul Pogba might have fun recently strutting about against the bottom half fodder of the Premier League, but he’ll find it much tougher to find space against Liverpool’s midfield on Sunday.

The Reds are 14 points better off than the Red Devils for a bigger reason than just Jose Mourinho. For a rare year in my life Liverpool have the better team and the better squad. They just need to believe it on Sunday. This is Liverpool’s toughest remaining game, on paper. Although an analysis of where both Liverpool and Manchester City have dropped points over the last two months suggests you can’t look too much into that.

But it still remains the game Liverpool would be most predicted to drop points in. A win will not just send Liverpool back three points clear at the top of the table, but make a huge statement as to how much this Liverpool side wants and believes they are the next Champions of England.

For once I’m not bothered about who plays or not for Manchester United.

If they get players back from injury, then sound. On Sunday it is all about us. They’ll play like the away side, defend deep and let us have the ball. It is all about what we do with it. With the exception of Kiev, this Liverpool side have been great on the big occasion for the last 12 months and they need to be the same on Sunday. Do that and this Man United side isn’t good enough to stop us.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it obviously isn’t. We still need to be brave on and off the ball. Still need to play well, take our chances and be firm when necessary. But just like the league title, the destiny of the three points feels very much in our hands going to Old Trafford. Play close to our best and we win.

Back Liverpool to roll over Ole at 5/4