A vociferous Anfield atmosphere awaits to welcome old foes Liverpool and Manchester United on Sunday afternoon – a renewal of hostilities with major implications on the respective Premier League title and top-four faces.
Both behemoths enter the showdown on a high, with the Reds seeing off Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 in the top flight, while Erik ten Hag‘s men came from behind to sink West Ham United 3-1 in the FA Cup.
While meetings between the familiar faces of Liverpool and Manchester United are always eagerly anticipated, Liverpool and Wolves must have been sick of the sight of one another by the time that Wednesday rolled around, as they engaged in their fourth on-field battle since the turn of the year.
Following a controversially disallowed goal for Darwin Nunez – with ex-Wolves man Diogo Jotaadjudged to have fouled Max Kilman – two quickfire Liverpool strikes from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah got Jurgen Klopp‘s side back on track following dissatisfactory results against Crystal Palace and Real Madrid.
Slowly but surely creeping up the ranks and threatening to upset the top-four apple cart, a wildly inconsistent Liverpool – who have just four wins to boast from their last 12 games – have risen to sixth spot in the table and are six points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, albeit with a match in hand.
Even with their powers waning, one constant that has not changed this season is Liverpool’s Premier League record at Anfield, with the Reds losing just one of their last 35 top-flight games in front of their own supporters and taking 13 points from the last 15 on offer – keeping clean sheets in their most recent three such games.
Keeping Wolves at bay made it four successive shutouts in the Premier League for Klopp’s crop, who have also gone unbeaten in their last seven Anfield contests against Big Six sides, but taking a leaf out of Real Madrid’s book would not go amiss for their title-challenging adversaries.
Seeking to emulate Liverpool’s EFL Cup and FA Cup double from the 2021-22 season, a Man United side who have already got their hands on the former were at risk of crashing back down to earth when Said Benrahma put West Ham ahead in their FA Cup fifth-round tie.
However, a Nayef Aguerd own goal sparked a late rally from the Red Devils, who struck through Alejandro Garnacho and Fred in the dying embers to book a quarter-final date with Fulham and keep their hopes of a Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup quadruple alive – Liverpool will be in no mood to offer any tips in that quest, though.
Not since putting Leicester City to the sword 3-0 have Man United taken to the pitch in the Premier League, but their third-placed standing is still safe for the time being, and each of their last four games – all in four different tournaments – have ended in victory.
For all of Liverpool’s staunch defensive action – domestically at least – Man United travel to Anfield having scored at least twice in each of their last 12 games across all competitions, and their tally of 23 points taken since the World Cup is the most in the Premier League.
However, instability on the road is still bedevilling the Red Devils – who have actually conceded more Premier League goals (20) than they have scored (17) away from home this season – and they have failed to beat a ‘Big Six’ side in a Premier League away game in their last seven attempts.
Following a trio of humiliating defeats in which they conceded at least four goals each time, Man United ended their Liverpool hoodoo with a 2-1 win over the Reds at Old Trafford back in August, but not since the earliest days of Klopp’s reign in January 2016 have they left Anfield with all three points in the bag – former Evertonian Wayne Rooneyscoring the only goal that day.