The English Premier League is back to work after a week off for Euro 2020 qualification play. Only one game on the board for Sunday but it’s a big one as top of the table Liverpool travels to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Somethings haven’t changed–Liverpool continues to run roughshod over the rest of the Premiership. To date, their record is unblemished in league play at 8-0-0. They’ve scored 20 and conceded only 6. They’ve been equally as formidable on the road as at on their home pitch at Anfield. On their travels, they’re 4-0-0 scoring 8 and conceding just 2.
Manchester United is having a tough time of it this year and now there is considerable speculation that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the hot seat. For now, the Man U board has reaffirmed their commitment to their field general but sports fans know how that works. There are countless examples of teams giving coaches and managers a ‘vote of confidence’ only to fire them shortly thereafter. At any rate, there’s considerable incentive beyond the usual intrinsic motivation for the Red Devils to show up and perform here.
Their only win in their last five games has been in League Cup play over League One side Rochdale and they needed penalties to achieve that. Their offense has been the major issue with just 2 goals scored in games against Newcastle United, Arsenal and West Ham United in Premiership play, the aforementioned League Cup game and a scoreless draw against AZ in Europa League competition. On the plus side, they’ve been fairly stout defensively and conceded only 4 goals during that stretch. They’ve faired better at home in Premier League play this year going 2-1-1 scoring 7 and conceding 3. That is somewhat misleading as four of those goals were scored in their early season 4-0 rout of Chelsea. They’ve won just 2 of their last 5 in all competitions at Old Trafford and haven’t scored multiple goals in any of those games. In fact, the win over Chelsea was the last time they scored more than one goal in a game in any competition at home or away.
It’s tough to remain perfect in a league as competitive as the Premier League. In theory, Liverpool should have little trouble with Manchester United. This looks to be the perfect spot for a ‘statement game’ for Manchester United. We’ll take the 1 goal handicap meaning we get our stake back in case of a narrow Liverpool win. If Man U can muster a draw we cash a ticket in what should be a tight, low scoring game.