The rest of the fixtures for this Premier League weekend pail into insignificance – it’s almost as if the TV paymasters fixed so that all eyes can be on the alleged biggest rivalry in top-flight English football.
Heading into the clash at Anfield, the narrative is pretty obvious. Liverpool seem unstoppable in the league whereas United are as inconsistent as they have ever been in the Premier League era.
That alone explains the betting odds for this one – many of the leading online bookmakers are pricing United as far out as 8/1 to beat their big rivals, a draw being considered at around 4/1.
Despite all fingers pointing to the fact that Liverpool should see off United quite handsomely, there is value in looking the other way.
Don’t forget, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer did enough of a number on Jurgen Klopp at Old Trafford to turn a cast-iron 5-0 battering into a praise-worthy draw and since then has also seen off Pep Guardiola in the league.
So can United be the team to finally beat Liverpool in the league? With odds of 8/1 in the online football betting world, it is very tempting to start considering it.
They’ve got as good a chance as anyone else not called Manchester City, that’s for sure.
Spurs saw some joy in sitting deep in their own half and denying Liverpool’s front three the space to go and play last weekend. The problem for Spurs was that they didn’t seem to want to counter-attack with speed, ability or the belief it would hurt the Reds meaning Liverpool looked nice and safe following the initial 15 minutes, through to the final 20 when Jose decided he’d better gamble a bit.
United need to copy and paste this game plan and then do the counter-attacking bit with a bit more oomph than Spurs. And, to be fair, they do have the strikers to do that.
If OGS is feeling brave, he should go with a back three and have Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bisakka as wing-backs. Then he must ask Fred and Nemanja Matic to set up camp in front of them and leave Greenwood, Rashford and James pushed high to break fast.
The only area that United can even think of competing with Liverpool is when that attack gets a chance to run into some space behind Van Dijk et al – if they even get a chance to.
That said, it’s more likely that United will play a 4-3-3 that is really a 4-5-1 – this will hand Liverpool the upper hand in the full-back areas where Alexander-Arnold and Robertson like to play from. With Williams and Wan-Bissaka looking to keep Salah and Mane in their pockets, there will be enough occasions where the United wide men don’t track and pow – Liverpool have those overloads that they love.
If Solskjaer does go three at the back, the way Kloppo solved it in the first half last week was by asking Gini to go and pester Serge Aurier a bit more – a sensible move as you can always rely on the Spurs defender to mess it up at some point. That probably won’t be as effective this weekend as AWB has a bit more about him.
United would take a draw right now if you offered it to them and Liverpool have enough points in the bank to see this a safe zone for a draw. It could be 0-0. It could 3-3. Who knows? Either way, there’s value in the draw in the betting market.