Things are looking bleak for Manchester United fans. They’re having to hope their city rivals prevent Liverpool from finally winning another league title. Jürgen Klopp’s team are champions of Europe, whereas United are in danger of not being the best team in Salford, if things continue as they are.
The Red Devils are 15 points adrift of the ‘Pool, the biggest ever gap between the teams after eight games, and Liverpool arrive at Old Trafford as league leaders for the first time in 23 years.
Still, things aren’t all bad. Danny Mills recently picked a combined United and Liverpool XI, and it didn’t feature a single player from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad. If that doesn’t mean the Merseysiders are heading for a fall, I don’t know what does.
Let’s have a look for the best bets.
Since Jurgen Klopp took charge at Anfield, United have been his nemesis. The Red Devils are the only club the German has faced in the Premier League who have won more head-to-head points than his team have.
In the five Manchester meetings since Liverpool’s last victory there, the home side have scored nine goals while conceding three.
Even so, it’s United who hope the form book goes out of the window. Solskjaer’s side have won just one of their last six league games, and even that required a penalty to get a 1-0 victory over Leicester. Liverpool have won all eight league matches this season, conceding the fewest goals in the division.
It has to be them to win, doesn’t it?
Paddy has no doubts about it. Liverpool are odds-on at 8/13, while United are 4/1 and the draw is 11/4. The visitors have a poor record at Old Trafford, but they should head home along the M62 with three points, and a share of the English top flight’s all-time longest winning run.
If you think Liverpool are going to batter United, you might want to bet on Solskjaer being the next manager to leave his post. Ole is currently 5/2 behind Everton’s Marco Silva at 5/6. Those odds will surely shorten if United are hammered. The risk is that Everton may move first, if they get beaten.
However, while the Reds are worthy favourites to win, it’s hard to see there being many goals. United haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 10 games in all competitions, their worst such run since 2007. There has also only been a total of 17 goals in their eight league games this season, the third lowest tally in the division.
You also have to go back 10 years to find Liverpool’s last visit where they scored more than one non-penalty goal (the 3-0 win in 2014 featured 2 penalties by Steven Gerard and a Luis Suarez strike).
Martin Atkinson is in charge here, and he doesn’t point to the spot very often – just five times in 46 Manchester United matches, for instance.
But if you like your omens, maybe Atkinson can play the part of the grim reaper. The last time he reffed a Liverpool v United match, Klopp’s side won 3-1 and Mourinho got the boot. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Ole.
United have been so hopeless in front of goal recently that Rhian Brewster, yet to play in the Premier League, is a shorter price to score here than any Red Devil is.
In United’s last league match, DeAndre Yedlin had more touches in the opposition box than Marcus Rashford.
However, Rash did get back on the goal trail for England in Bulgaria, with his first non-penalty goal for two months. As the season began two months ago, that’s not a great look. But he is the home side’s best chance, and he has netted more regularly against ‘big six’ sides than the rest.
Liverpool’s front three have decimated most defences, but not United’s. Firmino has one goal from 10 appearances against them, Mané one in four and Salah none in four. With David de Gea out injured, will the Reds’ trident ever have a better chance?
Mo Salah is due a goal, both against United and in the league generally. Since scoring against Newcastle, the Egyptian has taken 10 league shots, of which eight were in the box, four have been on target and two were clear-cut chances. His next goal is close.