With their place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League secured in midweek, Liverpool can now turn their full attention to their Premier League duties for the next two months, aside from the FA Cup date with Wolves in January. The Reds sit top of the table approaching the halfway mark and, after Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea last week, they hold the only league unbeaten record not just in the top flight but in the top five divisions of English football.
This Sunday, they dare not relinquish that status, for it is the near and not so dear Manchester United who visit Anfield hoping to become the first away team to win a Premier League game at the venue since Crystal Palace in April 2017. In stark contrast to Liverpool’s sensational season thus far, the Red Devils have lurched from one disappointing result to another and would have banked on being far higher than sixth place, a full 16 points off the summit, by mid-December. However, as Kopites know all too well, there are few managers better than Jose Mourinho at making the most of a siege mentality to leave heavily fancied opponents reeling. We analyse key statistics relating to this fixture ahead of the latest Merseyside versus Manchester showdown.
Last 6 Premier League games
Liverpool: W5, D1, L0, F14, A2, Pts 16
Manchester United: W2, D3, L1, F11, A9, Pts 9
Since drawing at Arsenal at the beginning of November, Liverpool have taken the full complement of points available to them from five Premier League games, scoring 13 goals in that spell and conceding just one. They already have 10 clean sheets from their 16 league matches and have not conceded multiple times in a Premier League game since a 2-2 draw at West Brom in April. In seven matches at Anfield, only Manchester City have stopped the Reds from winning and only Cardiff have denied Alisson a clean sheet at the venue.
Manchester United’s 4-1 cruise over Fulham last weekend was their first Premier League victory since the start of November, although they are unbeaten in four league games since the derby defeat at the Etihad Stadium five weeks ago. Their away record makes for indifferent reading, with three wins, two draws and three defeats, although even with just 26 points gained so far in the league, they have shown an impressive knack for retrieving points from losing positions – nine of their 26 points were earned after falling behind in matches.
Premier League head-to-head record
Since the beginning of the Premier League, Manchester United have won just over half of the meetings between these two, with Liverpool winning only a quarter. The Merseysiders’ last league victory over their bitterest rivals came in March 2014, when they won three penalties in a 3-0 win at Old Trafford, and their last Anfield win against United was in September 2013 when Daniel Sturridge celebrated his 24th birthday with the only goal of the game.
Going further back, that was Liverpool’s only league win in this fixture in the last seven seasons, although they had beaten United at Anfield for three campaigns in a row prior to that. The Reds’ last Anfield goal against United in the Premier League was scored by Sturridge in a 1-2 defeat in March 2015, the day when Juan Mata scored twice for the visitors and Steven Gerrard was sent off 38 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute. That was one of 16 red cards shown in Premier League meetings between these teams; three of those belong to Nemanja Vidic.
Last Anfield meeting
Just as it was almost exactly one year previously, the October 2017 clash of English football’s two most decorated clubs ended in a goalless stalemate at Anfield. Not for the first time, David de Gea produced a scarcely believable performance to frustrate the home side, with the pick of the Spaniard’s saves denying Joel Matip in the first half.
Mourinho was criticised afterwards for his ultra-defensive approach, but it did the trick as Liverpool failed to find the net despite registering 19 shots on the day. A combination of poor finishing and de Gea’s heroics enabled United to leave with a draw, claiming a ninth league clean sheet in their previous 10 games, and extend Liverpool’s poor run of form to just one win in eight matches. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side then won five of their next six as they corrected their slow start to the season.
For all Manchester United’s apparent goalscoring problems this season, they only have six fewer than table-topping Liverpool in the Premier League (34 to 28). Ten of Liverpool’s total have come from Mohamed Salah, who is now the joint-top scorer in the division after his hat-trick at Bournemouth last week.
Anthony Martial is currently the Red Devil’s most prolific league scorer with seven, one ahead of Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian’s total of six is matched by Sadio Mane, who like Lukaku has had barren spells in front of goal this season despite being his club’s second most frequent scorer.
Although Klopp has yet to beat Mourinho in four Premier League meetings, he enjoyed a landmark victory over his Portuguese rival in the 2012/13 Champions League semi-finals when his Borussia Dortmund side defeated Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
This is not the first time that the teams have met at Anfield in a Premier League match on Sunday 16 December. Eleven years ago tomorrow, Carlos Tevez scored the only goal just before half-time to give Manchester United all three points.
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