All roads in the northwest of England lead to Anfield tonight. A new chapter will be written in the famous rivalry in English football when the two most decorated clubs in the country—Liverpool and Manchester United—lock horns in their first derby of the Premier League season. With a history of economic and industrial rivalry between the cities, this fixture means much more than football.
United have won the league a record 20 times, with Liverpool snapping at its heels with 18 (Arsenal is third with 13). However, the two clubs are no longer frontrunners in the Premier League title race, with Manchester United last winning it in 2013 and Liverpool, a quarter of a century ago.
Both started this season with the aim of winning the league title. Managers Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho are both proven winners. But, so far, Liverpool have shown more promise than Manchester United. Klopp has led Liverpool to four successive victories in the league, winning September’s Manager of the Month award in the process.
Liverpool, in fourth position with a game in hand, can go top of the table if they win by three goals or more, but United are just three points behind in seventh position. Klopp said, in a press conference, that Mourinho’s side have a mix of quality and experience that will make Monday’s match tough.
However, United’s recent form does not inspire confidence. They have won only two of their last five games, losing twice and drawing once. Captain Wayne Rooney’s lack of form has cost him his place in the starting eleven and without him United have looked like a rudderless ship at times.
On a positive note, though, new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic has settled well and world-record signing Paul Pogba is starting to find his feet for the Red Devils.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have looked hungrier this season. Klopp focuses on “pressing” the opposition. They close down opponents faster, force mistakes, and then go for the kill. Klopp, however, has injury concerns with two of his key midfielders, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum, doubtful.
Mourinho's team relies on patience and concentration, and tries to catch the opponent unawares on the counter-attack. This contrast in styles in reflected in the statistics. Liverpool have 2.57 goals per match against United’s 1.86 and they have 603 passes per match against United’s 517.
The numbers and current form favour Liverpool, but history has proven that you can never write off Manchester United.