Liverpool are in absolutely compelling form, and would easily qualify as one of the toughest oppositions any team could face. However, when games carry the weight of passion, history, and downright animosity, form and everything else goes right out of the window. Since Liverpool secured an emphatic 3-0 win at Old Trafford in March 2014, the Reds have lost all four league showdowns with Manchester United.
Here are three reasons why Manchester United could beat the Reds yet again on Monday:
Liverpool’s goalkeeper dilemma
Liverpool signed Loris Karius in the summer, but the goalkeeper couldn’t start the season because of a pre-season injury. The German has returned and has made three appearances for the Reds, which includes two in the league. His debut in the league was Liverpool’s 5-1 demolition of Hull City. While Liverpool only conceded once, it was down to Hull threatening only that one time. It was another goal from a set-piece, and Karius didn’t look commanding enough.
The real test for the German was certainly the game against Swansea City. He endured a shaky game, and his reluctance of coming out for corners and crosses really caught the eye. It is something Mignolet was criticised for, and something that was supposed to be addressed with a new goalkeeper. Of course, it was only his second Premier League game, and Klopp wouldn’t want to unnerve him by getting back Mignolet, who did well at the start of the season.
However, the game is against Manchester United, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s the kind of striker that could wreak havoc and will certainly want to pressure Karius and exploit his vulnerabilities. If he manages to do that, United could go back with all three points.
United are good at set-pieces, and Liverpool absolutely cannot defend them
Liverpool’s weakness for almost four seasons now has been their vulnerability at defending set-plays. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp was met with even more enthusiasm because fans thought that the defence would be shored up. Despite there being some encouragement in the defence, Liverpool always look vulnerable at corners and set-plays.
Liverpool have conceded 16 times from corners and free-kicks since Jurgen Klopp took charge in October 2015. Only Swansea (18) have conceded more in the Premier League during that time. The tally for this season is now up to three, which means a third of the goals have come from set-piece routines.
Karius is new in goal and needs incredible support in front of him to help keep things tidy. Manchester United are good at corners; they scored from three corners in just one game against Leicester. Jose Mourinho’s men have the best chance at getting the breakthrough via a goal through a set-play.
While Mourinho‘s short reign at Manchester United so far can be called “streaky,” the former Chelsea boss knows exactly how to stop a free-flowing Liverpool. He was able to spoil Liverpool’s part in 2013/14, and there is no reason why he can’t do it when the two sides meet this year.
Johan Cruyff once said: “Jose Mourinho is a negative coach. He only cares about the result and doesn’t care much for good football.”
Mourinho might operate defensively. Like any good coach, he will tinker his tactics to curb a very offensive Liverpool side. He may get the result in a “negative” fashion. While this manner won’t be liked by many, the three points are all that count at the end.
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