Reds out to erase painful memories

Man United will relish putting Liverpool down again. — Reuters

Title-chasing Liverpool often struggle at Old Trafford

AN away match against Manchester United is never easy or straightforward for Liverpool.

Records have shown that the Red Devils often have the upper hand when they host the Merseyside club.

In fact, since Juergen Klopp became the Reds’ manager in 2015, Liverpool have only won twice out of seven Premier League matches at Old Trafford.

But the Reds have done so memorably in 2021, winning 4-2 and 5-0.

Their last two trips there, however, ended in defeat, including the 4-3 loss in the FA Cup quarterfinal match last month.

With this still fresh in everyone’s minds, Liverpool will surely want to erase that painful memory and make things right.

Despite that defeat and being dumped out of the FA Cup, Liverpool are actually on a good run, winning six and drawing once out of seven Premier League matches.

To win against Man United, Klopp’s team will need to be at the top of their game.

With Alisson Becker still unavailable, the outstanding Caoimhin Kelleher will continue to play in goal.

Ibrahima Konate will be expected to be retained in the starting line-up and to partner with Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence, while Andrew Robertson and Conor Bradley should be playing on both flanks.

Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister have both proven themselves to be the mainstays in Liverpool’s midfield, with one offering defensive prowess while the other dictating play.

The Argentinian was the man of the match in back-to-back games against Brighton and Hove Albion last week and Sheffield United in midweek.

Dominik Szoboszlai, despite not playing as well as he had during the earlier part of the season, would be the third member of the midfield trio.

Luis Diaz is also currently playing well, terrorising opposing defenders with his run, while Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez are still trying to rediscover their rhythm after their respective injuries.

As for Man United, Erik ten Hag will be sweating buckets as he has six of his senior defenders out injured.

And four of them are centre backs – Lisandro Martínez, Victor Lindelöf, Jonny Evans and Raphael Varane.

Evans had come in for Varane in the second half during the 4-3 defeat to Chelsea in midweek and was also substituted about 20 minutes later.

Ten Hag is well short of options as to who would partner Harry Maguire in the centre of the defence and may turn to 19-year-old Willy Kambwala, who replaced Evans at Stamford Bridge.

And with Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia also out injured, Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are expected to be retained on the flanks.

Kobbie Mainoo, who has impressed for the Red Devils so far this season, will definitely be in the starting lineup and could partner with Scott McTominay in the middle of the park.

In attack, Rasmus Højlund should be the sole striker up top, supported by Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho.

Both Liverpool and Man United have not been lucky with their respective injuries this season.

United, currently in sixth place, had it worse, especially with more than half of their senior defenders out injured, a problem once similarly faced by Liverpool three years ago.

Qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League is still mathematically possible for Man United, but it looks incredibly hard now, as 11 points separate them from Aston Villa in fourth.

And after the collapse against Chelsea despite being 3-2 up before extra time, ten Hag will have much to ponder before facing Liverpool.

Things are now looking bright for Liverpool as several key players, like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and Diogo Jota, have returned to training following their recent injuries, just in time for the final run-in for the league title.

With the number of matches running short, the pressure is building so Liverpool cannot afford to lose any games and must continue on with the momentum if they are to win the league.

Arsenal and Manchester City, at second and third spots respectively in the league, will be expected to win their remaining matches, so three points at Old Trafford are a must if Liverpool are to continue leading at the top of the table.

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