This is perhaps the best time for these two teams to face each other considering how their seasons are going. Manchester United are in winning form while Liverpool are looking for a boost. What better time for a boost to pick up performances for both teams. In reality, neither team is having a great season, but United has managed to pick up points without really playing all that great.
On the other side is Liverpool who haven’t been able to do either. They have now won just two of their last six matches in all competitions. Manchester United’s last loss came in the form of their 1-0 loss to City in the Manchester Derby, meaning they have won five in a row.
Liverpool come into Sunday’s match having drawn two matches in a row and both at home. In their away Premier League matches this season they have yet to draw and have 3 wins compared to 4 losses. This includes scoring 12 goals and allowing 13 with one clean sheet coming in their 3-0 win over Spurs.
Manchester United last lost at home in the Premier League in their first match of the season with the 1-2 loss to Swansea City. Since then they have won 6 and drawn 1. They have also picked up 3 clean sheets while scoring 16 goals and allowing 6. They have managed to score at least one goal in each of their home games this EPL season.
A Statistical Analysis
Both teams have played 15 Premier League matches for a total of 1350 minutes of match time. All of the following statistics come from using Squawka’s comparison matrix.
In several categories there is very little to separate the two teams. United has scored 26 goals and allowed 17 while Liverpool have scored 19 and allowed 19, leaving a 9 point goal difference between the two with Liverpool at 0 and Manchester United at +9.
Man United are placed third in the Premier League Table with 28 points from an 8-4-3 record compared to Liverpool in ninth place with 21 points from a 6-3-6 record.
Offensively there isn’t a whole lot to separate these two. Liverpool have taken 216 shots with 42% accuracy compared to United with 201 shots and 44% accuracy.
Passing statistics are also rather close. Manchester United have attempted 8049 passes with 6954 being completed for a completion rate of 86% while Liverpool have attempted 7232 with 6069 completed for a rate of 84%. They have also created 154 chances compared to United at 152.
Both teams have had problems in defense. It is clearly an area of weakness for both squads and United have not been helped at all by their numerous injuries to defenders. Both teams have 4 clean sheets, but it is Manchester United that seem to have the edge when it comes to most of the defensive statistics.
|Saves per Goal||1.88||1.59|
However, the key statistical area to look at is the biggest struggle for both sides: errors. Manchester United have made 14 defensive errors with only 1 of these errors leading to a goal. Liverpool, on the other hand, have made 19 errors and 5 of these have led to goals.
Defensive frailties could very well be the difference in this match. The likelihood of goals being scored in this one are very high with attacking potential on both sides.
Manchester United has shown they are vulnerable to high pressing teams that can pin them back in their own half. Last year’s Liverpool team was quite good at this, but so far, they have not had the speed or tenacity to carry this tactic through to this year.
Manchester United has employed their own version of a press which may be linked to the recurring injuries, particularly groin and hamstring injuries as pointed out by United Rant. This has been a tactic that has mostly contributed to something of a defensive solidity and points to their high number of interceptions.
The lack of fit fullbacks has led to the recent change in formation to a 3-5-2 using Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia as wingbacks. With the importance of this weekend’s match I won’t be surprised to see van Gaal switch back to a 4-4-2 of sorts.
In the big matches this season Manchester United has really stepped up. They managed a draw against Chelsea followed by a 1-0 loss to Manchester City in which they pushed hard and nearly earned a draw. The 2-1 victories over both Arsenal and Southampton have been what have propelled them into third place, despite not playing at their peak.
The Manchester United vs Liverpool derby is always hotly contested and making a prediction on these sorts of games is always difficult. My pick and prediction is a Manchester United win. It is very likely that Rogers will play Gerrard, after all it’s the Manchester United v Liverpool derby. This means that the idea of playing a high pressing game, especially for 90 minutes, is all but out the window.
There is very little speed in this Liverpool team and they are currently on the decline as well. Manchester United don’t have all that much in the way of speed at the moment, but certainly have more in the attacking department.
Angel Di Maria and Rafael could be fit for this one, but it seems unlikely that they will start considering Louis van Gaal’s philosophy on returning players from injury. For Liverpool, they could have Mario Balotelli return, but that is their only likely returning player for this one.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
In the last six meetings Manchester United holds a slight edge with 3 wins 2 losses and a draw. In the last six matches at Old Trafford United are 4-0-2. Picking United is certainly a safer bet in this one considering the statistics.