Going into gameweek 19, one of the main fixtures to look out for, is Liverpool vs Manchester United on Sunday, two teams who have been head-to-head with one another since the early days of Premier League football. Both sides are now the top-two most successful clubs across England.
The match is expected to be a close battle and an interesting one, as Jurgen Klopp’s men currently have the best home form in the league and are incredibly yet to be defeated at Anfield so far this season. On the other hand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at the moment have the best record away from home in the league, as they have impressively achieved 22 points out of a possible 24 points.
As the fixture is between the two main teams who are first and second in the league, the match may not be filled with many goals or a large number of chances being created, with both sides typically wanting to limit any personal mistakes and aim to pounce on the opposition’s errors and faults.
Without further ado, here are the three key battles to look out for ahead of the match…
Marcus Rashford vs Trent Alexander-Arnold
With seven goals and five assists to his name in 17 league appearances, Marcus Rashford will be hoping to develop and take his consistency in the final third up a notch, as the Premier League viewers are strictly holding him to reach 15 to 20 league goals per season. When compared to his team-mates in the league, the 23-year-old has completed the most dribbles (42) and the third most key passes (21), proving how much the player has improved, especially under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rashford will be in for an exciting and tight duel with international football colleague, Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is considered as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League and is an influential player for Liverpool on both sides of the pitch. Despite some unconvincing performances this campaign and the calf injury which kept him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks in November, Alexander-Arnold will be looking to turn his form around with a solid display against Rashford.
Sadio Mane vs Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Liverpool have been relying on the goals of Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to get them to where they currently are, but it’s the intelligent movement and unselfish play from Sadio Mane, that allows the attack to be so smooth and purely effective. The Senegal international may not be at his best compared to how prolific he was in the last two seasons, however, his inside movement from the left flank, allows more time and space for Andrew Robertson, who can provide the much needed crosses into penalty box as he has made a name for himself as a key creator.
Mane will have to be closely marked and watched by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who hasn’t proven to be one of the key players for Manchester United like he had done so in the previous campaign. Nevertheless, the right-back when compared to the rest of the team in terms of defensive statistics, has completed the most tackles (49), most crosses blocked (19) and second most interceptions (19).
Bruno Fernandes vs Thiago Alcantara
Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has changed the selection around in midfield, whether it’s a pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay or Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, there will be no doubts over Bruno Fernandes starting for one single moment, who will be the leading the team through his creativity and decision-making. He has incredibly managed to score 11 goals and produce seven assists in 17 league appearances, as he continues to prove to be one of the best football players in the league.
Meanwhile, for Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara is expected to play in the number six position in midfield, where he will be looking to progress the ball from the deep areas in midfield up to the final third of the pitch. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich midfielder has missed many games so far this season through COVID-19 and a knee injury, but he is now back to full fitness and is starting to get back to his best, as the Spaniard will be aiming to play a crucial role for Jurgen Klopp’s men.