Liverpool are like a runaway train. They look unstoppable as they head toward their ultimate destination, the league title. The Reds’ train has spent too many years stopping at Rejection, Disappointment, Backstabbing Central and Shattered Dreams Parkway. Not anymore.
Their win at Tottenham ensured Liverpool completed a ‘season’ without defeat for the first time in their illustrious history, and they became the first team to ever take 104 points from a run of 38 league games.
Yet there is one team they can’t deal with. Jürgen’s Klopptonite, if you will. All superheroes have their mortal enemy, their nemesis. For Liverpool, it’s Manchester United.
And not just in a geographical, England’s two most successful clubs, ‘who is on their perch?’ kind of way either. No matter the relative form and standing of the two northwest giants in recent years, Liverpool have rarely beaten the Red Devils.
They won home and away in 2013/14, but since then have just one league win, plus one in the Europa League. Klopp has faced 29 different teams in the Premier League, and United are the one with whom he has the worst record, taking only eight points from eight meetings.
The 20-time English champions have also ended the two unbeaten runs longer than Liverpool’s current one, albeit both were at Old Trafford and Fergie’s teams in 2005 and 2006 were just a little better than the current incarnation of United.
That said, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been doing better in the big games this season, picking up wins at home against Chelsea, Tottenham and – most impressively – away at Manchester City.
Or at least they were doing well until they lost meekly at Arsenal and were embarrassed at home by City recently. With Liverpool having won their last 18 league games on home turf, it’s impossible to forecast anything other than a 19th here, and a 19th league title in May.
When looking at the goal bets, one half of the equation looks nailed on: Liverpool will score. Klopp’s team have netted in all 21 league games in 2019/20, and will surely become the first side since Arsenal in 2001/02 to score in their opening 22 Premier League fixtures.
Since Mourinho’s team ground out a dreary 0-0 draw at Anfield in October 2017, the Red Devils have kept only one clean sheet in their 11 away games against the other big clubs. They’ve also only kept one league clean sheet on the road against anybody this season, and that was at Burnley, the joint-sixth lowest scorers in the division.
So Liverpool will score, but will the visitors? The Reds’ record of one goal conceded in their last 10 first team games (which is generous to Everton, considering the kids knocked them out of the FA Cup) suggests not. United’s tally of 12 league goals in 11 games away from Old Trafford this season – with a quarter of them coming in eight minutes at Sheffield United – backs it up.
The obvious choice for a United scorer was going to be Marcus Rashford. However, he only lasted 16 minutes in midweek before going off with a back injury. It’s no surprise he has hurt his back, carrying this United team must be hard work. Harry Maguire’s head must weigh 50 pounds on its own.
Anthony Martial is now their main threat. Only three players from any team have scored more away goals in the big six mini-league since August 2017, and Martial also has five goals in his previous seven starts.
If you think United can score, he’s the best option they have at 3/1.
Last week’s preview tipped Roberto Firmino to score at Spurs, which worked out nicely. But he hasn’t scored at Anfield this season, so we must look elsewhere.
Liverpool’s top home scorer this season, and the man who has had the most clear-cut chances there, is Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian king hasn’t yet scored against United, who are the only team he’s faced at least four times in his career without netting. He can break his duck on Sunday at 10/11.
Oh, and if you want a long priced punt, how about Virgil van Dijk at 13/2? United have the worst record for defending set pieces among the big teams over the last few years, so the big Dutchman might get a chance.
*All odds correct at time of publication