Where: Anfield, Liverpool
When: Sunday, December 17
The 7-0 thrashing that Liverpool handed Manchester United at Anfield back in March is the low point in this rivalry for United. That game saw the Red Devils chasing shadows, with no clearer depiction of the gulf in class between the two sides needed than what was playing out in front of The Kop. If United are to turn things around under Erik ten Hag, then there would be no time like the present against a team that (historically) has been their main rival.
Looking at the record in competitive matches, the stats favor United. They have won 82 of the 211 matches between the two sides, with Liverpool emerging victorious 71 times and 58 draws. United fans need to hold on to this stat now because, given the state of the two clubs, The Reds could pass United in wins by the end of this decade. They are also the two most decorated clubs in English football, with both having 67 trophies (as of writing) when taking into account major honours only.
Only one of these teams has shown up in the Premier League this season. Liverpool might be the quietest team to have snuck their way to the top of the table in December ever, with The Reds one-point clear at the top of the lof. United have bumbled their way to sixth, ten points behind Liverpool, but not really looking near to the same skill level as their old rivals.
Liverpool will not have a full squad to pick from, with the sheer number of games the top teams play causing injuries to occur at an unprecedented rate this season. Stars sure to miss out include long-term absentees like Andrew Robertson, Thiago Alcantata, and Diogo Jota, while Alexis Mac Allister is doubtful with a knee complaint.
The last thing that United needs is more player availability issues, but that is what they have going into this one. Bruno Fernandes will certainly be missing after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season and being handed a one-match ban as a result. That the card was given for dissent in a 3-0 home defeat at Bournemouth’s hands is more evidence of United’s recent protracted struggles.
The defense is also likely to be going to be missing some core pieces, with both Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire having limped off in the Red Devils’ ill-fated Champions League tie against Bayern Munich in midweek. They are both doubtful here, as is the out-of-form Marcus Rashford. In all, United could be without as many as 13 first-team players heading to Anfield.
Seeing United at 7/1 against anyone – even away from home – is crazy. Even so, I still can’t back them here as the club has no form, no direction, and so many players out through injury, suspension, or just falling out with the boss. Take Liverpool to win in a game where United doesn’t score. Perhaps something like 2-0 (8/1) or 3-0 (9/1) to the home side.