Manchester United vs Liverpool Preview (October 24, 2021)

Written By Uttiyo Sarkar on October 23, 2021

Manchester United faces their first ‘big’ test of the season when they host arch-rivals, Liverpool, in a huge Premier League clash. The Red Devils are still reeling on the back of some topsy-turvy form & face an LFC side at the height of their power.

Something has got to give here. With the Old Trafford crowd powering them on, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men hope to signify a turnaround in their season by defeating Jurgen Klopp’s side – who have won every single away game this season.

To break that record, United has to produce a rather spectacular performance – as they know that a big win could indefinitely shut up talks of a ‘crisis’.

Manchester United Likely XI

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Matic, Greenwood, Pogba Rashford, Ronaldo

Raphael Varane & Anthony Martial are out with injuries. Fred & Marcus Rashford are also doubtful after suffering injuries in the thrilling win over Atalanta. Bruno Fernandes also picked up an injury recently and might start this from the bench.

Liverpool Likely XI

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Mane, Jota

Thiago Alcantara & Harvey Elliot are ruled out with injuries. Curtis Jones remains a doubt after missing the last few games.

Manchester United vs Liverpool preview

Man United have developed this ‘Jerkyl & Hyde’ nature when you can’t really predict which form will turn up in what game. The Red Devils can be spectacular on occasions (like the second half against Atalanta) and then dismal in others (like the loss to Leicester).

They have to get rid of this uncertainty around them to gain the level of consistency needed to win trophies. If they continue to be as open & easy to penetrate as they’ve been in recent games, Liverpool can humiliate them at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer needs to get his tactics right & have his side playing like one solid unit – rather than a collection of individuals. He must set them up strongly to frustrate the visitors and be clinical enough on the break.

That being said, the United stars themselves have to raise their performance levels to match up with the LFC players. Cristiano Ronaldo scored another Champions League winner on Wednesday, but faring off against the league’s best defender Virgil van Dijk & Joel Matip is a different challenge altogether.

The Portuguese forward has to replicate his work rate from the last game, covering a lot of ground & showing eagerness to be involved in attacks. He also needs to be at his ruthless best in finishing chances & use his clever movement to torment the LFC defenders.

Paul Pogba could play in the no.10 role in Bruno’s absence.  The Frenchman needs to make good use of his opportunity prove his class by helping United control possession & use his excellent vision to create prominent chances for Ronaldo & co.

Rashford is probably the ‘doubtful’ player with most chances of starting this one. With 2 goals in 2 appearances, he’s returned to form. Marcus will look to torment LFC’s defence with his sizzling off-the-ball runs & use his sharp movement to slither into key attacking areas and get among the goals again.

Mason Greenwood doesn’t look an ideal fit at the right wing, but his finishing ability makes him undroppable. He must move in more central areas to torment LFC & constantly challenge Alisson with his devastating shots on goal.

United have to be clinical with their counter-attacks because Liverpool will take the fight to them & should afford quite a few chances. While they will look to thrill the crowd with attacking soccer, the Red Devils need to be at their best defensively to frustrate the visitors.

LFC have scored 3 or more goals in every single away game this season. They’re in incredible form, dismantling opponents with their ruthless attacking style. Mo Salah is playing like the best player in the world. Be it his dribbling, movement or finishing, everything is just clicking for the winger.

If United gives Salah too much space to operate, they’re done for. But not just him, but Sadio Mane’s also regaining his form. He’s another unpredictable threat & can get goals out of nothing. Diogo Jota remains a clinical figure in & around the penalty area, with his clever finishing adding more firepower to LFC’s attack.

But that’s just not it. Trent Alexander-Arnold & Andy Robertson are huge threats down the wings because of their impressive crossing ability. Jordan Henderson & Naby Keita can also get among goals and help LFC control the game alongside Fabinho.

The Red Devils can’t afford to lose shape in midfield or defence. Scott McTominay could play with Nemanja Matic to add more muscle in midfield. They’ll have to work hard to close down spaces for the LFC midfielders & reduce their light of side down the middle.

Harry Maguire & Victor Lindelof have to be extremely sharp. They need to be fully focused to deal with the opponent’s blistering attacks & constantly make necessary challenges to avert danger.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Luke Shaw also have to be at their sharpest & make clutch tackles to nullify LFC’s threat down the sides. David de Gea is guaranteed to be tested regularly & needs to be a superman on Sunday to save United’s blushes.

With Liverpool in such devastating form, United needs to come up with something special to get the win. That includes performing significantly better than recent games, being extremely clinical in front of goal & maintain a tight defensive shape. Unless able to do those things, Klopp’s side could further pile on their misery by going away with another big win from Old Trafford.

Prediction

Even after their brilliant comeback win against Atalanta, I just don’t see United winning this one because of how vulnerable they look in general. I’ll predict LFC to continue their impressive away run and get a 3-1 win.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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