It’s the first time Manchester United are top of the league this late in the season since the 2012/2013 season. That season they went on to win the Premier League, their last league title.
The turbulent period that followed rocked the club badly. Three managers came and went. The Old Trafford exit was a revolving door for high-profile signings that flopped. Good performances were far and few between, and significantly Liverpool ran away with their first ever Premier League title.
Football moved on since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Liverpool climbed back on their perch playing rock and roll football, expanded their stadium too and made their fan base comfortable with winning. They’ve attracted world class players and top talent flows through the ranks. Oh let’s not forget about their European Cup triumph too.
The fortune of the clubs couldn’t be more different. Polar opposites. Jubilant fans in one corner, nostalgic and frustrated fans in the opposite. In previous encounters, the stakes have been high, but not as high as this weekend’s clash. It’s their 18th game, the midpoint of a testing season and United can go SIX points clear. It’s mad and if you said to anyone this would happen as the season kicked off, they’d have laughed. And loudly. At times this season United looked pathetic, but slowly and surely Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is finding his best system and doing something that previous managers hadn’t managed: bringing the best out of Paul Pogba who has been dominant and got the vital winner against Burnley. His goal catapulted United to the top and now, more so ever, consistency will be the key.
United have now got the bit between their teeth. 11 Premier League games unbeaten is no mean feat. Liverpool’s last league outing was an away defeat to Southampton and they drew the two games before that. The forms are as contrasting as the previous seasons have been and the Red Devils are on cloud nine.
… the issue is a defeat in cloud nine can bring them tumbling down. This edition of Liverpool v United will go down to team work and not individual performance, especially for Manchester United. Liverpool are littered with talent and you do feel a goal can come at any moment, but United will base their 90 minutes on a solid team performance. Good movement off the ball to contain Liverpool and swift counter attacks. A huge advantage is of course that they are away from home and they do boast the best away record in the league: undefeated and with the most points returned.
It is the perfect time to face Liverpool, whose form dipped since their 7-0 destruction of Palace. People were wrapping ribbons around the trophy the day they razed the Palace but the season is a long one, and even this Sunday’s tie won’t determine the winner. Far from it. City are creeping up the table while more will come from Spurs too.
This game is United’s to lose. They are in the driving seat. A draw gives them comfort, a win would make their fans dream, but a Liverpool win, which is always likely no matter the form, would be like pricking a balloon with a pin.
Get Manchester United to win at 27/10 or 3.7
Both teams to score is at 3/5 or 1.6
Odds subject to change