For a second weekend in a row Manchester United face a fellow top four contender as part of a tough set of fixtures in the coming weeks.
Louis van Gaal’s side follow their trip to Anfield with games against Aston Villa (home), Manchester City (home) and Chelsea (away) in a tight battle for the four UEFA Champions League places.
Liverpool are the form team of 2015 and are unbeaten in all 13 of their Premier League matches since losing 3-0 at Old Trafford on 14 December.
The Reds come into this match as favourites but here’s how Manchester United can get a result if they get these five things right:
1. Stop Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool’s 22-year old Brazilian has been one of the stars of the Premier League this season. Philippe Coutinho has been involved in eight of Liverpool’s goals this season (4 goals, 4 assists) which is probably lower than many would estimate he contributes to, he’s a big threat from the left when he cuts inside looking to find a teammate or having a long-range shot at goal. Manchester United were weak in defending this side of the pitch recently against Arsenal and Antonio Valencia has a big job on his hand to prevent Liverpool from doing similar.
2. Prevent Liverpool Plaything Through the Middle
With their 3-4-3 formation Liverpool have been dominating possession in the majority of games this season. Swansea City showed a good way of countering it for 45 minutes on Monday night before Brendan Rodgers sorted his team out at half-time and won the game in the second half. Manchester United need to prevent the likes of Jordan Henderson and co from dominating the game on Sunday. That may mean leaving Juan Mata out of the team.
3. Get It Right at the Back
Manchester United have been frail at the back for a lot of this season. Goalkeeper David de Gea is on course to be the club’s Player of the Season and his performances have linked him with a move to Real Madrid for a number of months now. The Spaniard was forced into making nine saves against Liverpool back in December. Liverpool have only got much better since then and arguably United’s performances have dropped off. With Coutinho, Henderson and Raheem Sterling all playing now and with Daniel Sturridge always a goal threat, Manchester United may need to put in their defensive performance of the season if they want to come away from Anfield with anything.
4. Create Chances, Especially for Wayne Rooney
Manchester United fired six shots on target versus Brad Jones when these two last met and three of them found the back of the net. They have not been so creative of late and Wayne Rooney has had to feast on scraps for a large part of 2015. With Robin van Persie currently sidelined it is important they create chances for their sole striker. Not expecting both Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini to start – they don’t have a great have a great deal of goalscorers from elsewhere on the field.
5. Beat Simon Mignolet
As well as creating chances, Manchester United are going to need to take them. Simon Mignolet did not play the game at Old Trafford because he was out of form. Since that two and a bit game benching the Belgian has been in excellent form – unbeaten in all 12 Premier League matches since, keeping eight clean sheets and conceding only six goals during that run.
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