Jan 15, 2017 at 4pm UK at ​Old Trafford
Attendance: 75,276
Man UtdManchester United
1-1
Liverpool
Ibrahimovic (84')
Herrera (91')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Milner (27' pen.)
Lovren (31'), Wijnaldum (61'), Firmino (91')

Preview: Manchester United vs. Liverpool

Sports Mole previews Sunday's huge Premier League clash between arch-rivals Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Sunday sees Manchester take on Merseyside in the Premier League, and the second instalment is arguably the biggest game in English football as Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford.

The old rivals will do battle with just four places and five points separating them in the Premier League table as they look to keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.


Man Utd

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho before his side's Premier League match with Stoke City at Old Trafford on October 2, 2016© SilverHub

It may have taken him a little longer than many expected, but Jose Mourinho is finally beginning to get the best out of his star-studded Manchester United side.

The Red Devils are still competing on all fronts this season, and the past week has seen them cruise into the fourth round of the FA Cup with victory over Reading before putting one foot in the EFL Cup final by beating Hull City 2-0.

Those results extended United's winning streak to nine matches across all competitions, their best run since an 11-game streak in January-February 2009, and there is no team they would like to beat more to make it 10 in a row than Liverpool.

Victory on Sunday would not only be a seventh Premier League win on the bounce for the first time since March 2013, it would also leave them just two points behind second-placed Liverpool - a position many may not have seen coming when United went on a run of just two wins in 11 league games from September to early December.

Indeed, while a title challenge looked all but over at the start of last month, United's subsequent winning streak has kept their faint hopes just about alive, although they still have plenty of work to do if they are to overhaul the 10-point gap to Chelsea.

A top-four finish will be the more realistic target now, but despite their recent form there is still improvement to be made in that race. United trail local rivals Manchester City by three points and are the lowest scorers in the top six by some distance, although only Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have conceded fewer at the other end.

United also trail their top-six rivals in terms of their home record this season, with Mourinho's side having amassed more points away from home in the Premier League than they have in front of their own fans.

The Red Devils have won their last six outings at Old Trafford across all competitions and are unbeaten in their last 15, though, with September's defeat at the hands of Man City their only reverse in their last 28 home games - a run stretching back almost a year.

There are signs of Old Trafford returning to the fortress it once was, then, and another win over Liverpool there this weekend would give them their best home winning streak since the halcyon days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Who would also bet against Wayne Rooney writing the headlines against his fiercest enemy? The former Evertonian was inundated with tributes after he finally equalled Sir Bobby Charlton's record tally of 249 goals for the club last weekend, and the dream script for the much-maligned England captain would be to move into the outright lead against Liverpool in front of his own fans.

Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp shouts orders during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Manchester City on December 31, 2016© SilverHub

Whereas United are flying at the moment, Liverpool have suffered a blip over the past fortnight and arrive at Old Trafford looking for their first win of 2017.

A 1-0 victory over Manchester City on New Year's Eve was another statement of intent for the title race, but since that triumph Jurgen Klopp's side have been held by Sunderland and Plymouth Argyle and beaten by Southampton.

The main positive during that spell of form is that the latter two results came in cup competitions and so had no effect on their title hopes, while the two points dropped during their 2-2 draw against the Black Cats ultimately turned into one point gained when Chelsea slipped up at Tottenham Hotspur.

It was still a missed opportunity for the Reds, though, and while they could have been just three points behind Antonio Conte's side with a win over Sunderland, they now face United with a five-point deficit still to overhaul - a gap that could grow to eight should the leaders return to winning ways against Leicester City on Saturday.

Defensive deficiencies once again hurt Liverpool in their last league outing and the Reds now have the joint worst record for conceding goals in the top seven, but there is still plenty to be positive about.

Klopp's side may have drawn blanks in their two cup games over the past week, but they are the highest scorers in the Premier League and have only lost one of their last 18 top-flight matches.

Liverpool's form on the road has also been impressive with only Chelsea amassing more league points away from home this season, although it is also worth noting that both of the Reds' Premier League defeats so far have come on their travels.

A return to winning ways on Sunday would see them set a new club record of 47 points after 21 matches of a Premier League season, and you have to go back to 1993 for the last time they failed to win any of their first four games of a calendar year.

Liverpool could well settle for a point against their in-form hosts, though, with Klopp warning his side to expect a "better" and "more confident" United team than the one they faced at Anfield in October.

The Red Devils have defined the Premier League era, though, and if Liverpool are to truly outline their title credentials this season then there would be no better place to do it than the home of their fiercest rivals and the only side to have lifted the league title on more occasions than them.

Klopp's side also have an impressive record against the teams around them in the table this season, winning five and drawing two of their meetings with the rest of the top seven.

Recent form: DWWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDDL


Team News

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United in action during their Premier League clash with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on November 6, 2016© SilverHub

Mourinho revealed in his pre-match press conference that he expects Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be available after he missed Tuesday's win over Hull with illness.

The 35-year-old has 12 goals in his last 12 appearances for the Red Devils and 13 in his first 19 Premier League games - a tally only Ruud van Nistelrooy can beat in United history.

Marcos Rojo is also expected to be in contention following a muscle injury, but Eric Bailly is at the Africa Cup of Nations and Luke Shaw remains a fitness doubt.

Arguably the biggest decision for Mourinho to make is whether or not he includes Rooney and gives the skipper the chance to break Charlton's goalscoring record in fairytale fashion.

Liverpool could also be boosted by the return of two key players, with Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip both back in training after recent injuries.

Matip may not be thrown in from the start having missed the last seven games with an ankle problem, but Henderson is likely to be included should he pass a late fitness test, with Liverpool having failed to win any of the three games he has spent on the sidelines.

Philippe Coutinho is also in contention for a start having made his comeback against Southampton in midweek, providing a timely return with Sadio Mane away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Simon Mignolet will be hoping to regain his starting spot from Loris Karius, although the summer signing was impressive against the Saints and may be given another chance in the Premier League by Klopp.

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Valencia, Rojo, Jones, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Mata, Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Ibrahimovic

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho


Head To Head

This will be the 50th Premier League meeting between the two sides, with United boasting the majority of the bragging rights over that period with 27 wins and only 13 defeats.

Indeed, Liverpool have lost more Premier League matches (27) and overall league matches (67) against United than against any other team, including 11 of their last 14 league visits to Old Trafford.

The reverse fixture between the two sides ended in a dour goalless draw at Anfield in October, with a defensive United seeing just 35% of the ball - their lowest total in a Premier League match since records began. The only season in which both top-flight meetings between these two sides finished 0-0 was 1919-20.

As for the two managers, Klopp edges the head-to-head record over Mourinho with three wins and just one defeat from their six previous meetings.

This match has also seen 16 red cards in the Premier League era - second only to the Merseyside derby.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool

United are in fine form at the moment and will be full of confidence when they welcome their arch-rivals to Old Trafford, but this Liverpool side will also not be too dismayed by their recent dip in results. Klopp's side have generally flourished against the bigger teams this season, and we are backing them to come away with a point on Sunday.


Who will win Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford?

Man Utd
Draw
Liverpool
Man Utd
62.3%
Draw
6.3%
Liverpool
31.4%
Jurgen Klopp watches on sternly during the Premier League game between Sunderland and Liverpool on January 2, 2017
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4Chelsea95131710716
5Arsenal95131712516
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8Burnley934289-113
9Liverpool93421416-213
10Southampton933389-112
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13West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom9243710-310
14Leicester CityLeicester92341214-29
15Swansea CitySwansea9225610-48
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