2020-2021 PREMIER LEAGUE: Title Holders vs League Leaders

The Game: Liverpool v/s Manchester United

Day/Date/Time: Sunday/17-Jan-21/16:30 GMT 

Reason To Watch: Biggest rivalry in English Football gets its due as the current Title holders host the current League leaders

Background

Liverpool against Manchester United is the biggest rivalry in English football. Since 1894, these teams have played 232 times against each other. Out of these 232 games, United have won 88 and Liverpool 77. The remaining 67 games have ended in a draw. Sadly, in the premier league era, the games between these two giants of English football (who boasts 39 league titles between them) have been more about the bragging rights than the title decider. The last time these two sides played a game which could have decided the title was in 2008-09 season when Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool came from behind to defeat Manchester United 4-1 at Old Trafford which almost derailed Manchester United’s march towards the title. Since then, the games between these two sides have had little to no impact on the Premier League title equation. 

Current situation: Stakes are high 

This time it’s different as these two clubs occupy the #1 (Manchester United) and #2 (Liverpool) positions on the league table. Liverpool, the current title holders trail Manchester United by 3 points after 17 games. Not to forget Manchester City who are currently at no 3 position and trail Liverpool by just one point and have a game in hand. So if Liverpool lose, they not only drop 6 points behind Manchester United but might even drop to 3rd place. The stakes are indeed high for Liverpool. 

The stakes are equally high for Manchester United. For the first time since Sir Alex retired, United appear to be mounting a genuine title challenge. A reverse against the fellow title challengers and arch enemy may derail the momentum and plant the seeds of doubts in the minds of the players. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,  I am sure must be aware of the psychological aspects of the defeat against the arch rival in the game of this magnitude. 

Form guide and approach to the game 

The recent record between these two teams seem to favour Liverpool. United have not beaten Liverpool in last two calendar years (2019 and 2020). Last home win for United (against Liverpool) was in March 2018 and last away win (at Anfield) for United was on the same day, 5 years ago (17th Jan 2016).

Liverpool’s recent form has been a bit wobbly. In last 3 games, they have lost 1 and drawn the remaining 2. And these were the games that Liverpool was expected to win (home game against West Brom and away games against New Castle United and Southampton) So they must be looking at the Manchester United game to go on a winning run again. United on the other hand has been in great form. In last 11 games, United have won 9 and drawn the remaining 2. Their last defeat came way back in November against Arsenal at Old Trafford.  United’s away form has been sensational. Out of the 8 games on the road, they have won 7 and drawn 1. 

One would argue that Liverpool’s need for 3 points is more than that of United’s. Also being the home team, expect Liverpool to go out and attack United with all their might. United on the other hand might be happy to come away from Anfield with a point. Ole is likely to field a team which is able to defend for 90 minutes and hopefully can also deliver a sucker punch on the counter.

Prediction 

Liverpool likely to win by 1 goal margin. 

– Rajneesh Verma [Rajneesh Verma is the Founder of Sportz Cosmos and leads the Football Galaxy. You can reach him at the gmail id: sportzcosmos]

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