There will be a relative calm before the storm at Old Trafford on Saturday as Manchester United prepares to host Liverpool in the Premier League in what is one of the greatest rivalries in English football.
Despite the chilling winter breeze in the North West, temperatures and temperaments are expected to simmer up and boil over, more so factoring in their fate in both the League and Champions League.
Liverpool could afford the luxury of using personnel sparingly during the barren draw with Porto on Tuesday, having already finished the job in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 with a 5-0 hammering of the Portuguese champions.
The Red devils on the other hand passed on the chance of getting a crucial away goal in Seville, with everything to play for when United host the return leg next week.
Jurgen Klopp has alleviated a tone of pressure from his side having already booked a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, and will be deservedly buoyed by the monumental achievement heading into the tie.
A gigantic tarpaulin in the form of a Spanish team hell-bent on getting an away goal may stand between Jose Mourinho and a place in the last eight of the Champions League, but the Portuguese tinker man will unwillingly have to go through the main course before finally burying himself in the sumptuous dessert.
Jose is bound to lose sleep over his tactics, seeing as his side has gone behind in their last two Premier League matches, yet still, managed to register emphatic comebacks that saw them reap maximum points against Chelsea and Crystal Palace respectively.
Jesse Lingard came off the bench to nick the winner after Romelu Lukaku’s goal before the interval cancelled out Willian’s clean finish, but it was the trip to Selhurst Park that stunned United.
Little defensive diligence saw the visitors go 2-0 down by the 48th minute, through goals from Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt, but Chris Smalling’s towering header by the hour mark would spark a remarkable comeback.
Lukaku showed great composure in a crowded penalty area to slot the ball into the back of the net with the equalizer, but it was Nemanja Matic’s injury time winner that highlighted Manchester United’s expedient recovery skills.
Mourinho may have won over some critics with his substitutions that altered the final outcome for the second week running, but Manchester United simply cannot afford to let their guard down against Liverpool.
Producing comebacks game by game is the knack to winning championships, and although the fate of the Premier League title will not be at stake, the pride of being two of the most successful teams in English football pegged by the scramble to finish second on the log will not make the encounter any less of a grudge match than it usually is.
Liverpool toppled their archrivals to end the weekend second on the EPL table with 60 points, but the Monday night win over Palace saw Man United reclaim their place in second with 62 points.
The visitors will be firing on all cylinders seeing as they have a clean bill of health, while United have the defensive trio of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind missing out on various injuries.
Anthony Martial sustained a knock that left him out of the trip to London, and the Frenchman further joins Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini on the treatment table.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool match prediction
Two of the last three matches between these two sides have ended in a paltry 0-0 draw, while the one match that had goals still ended in a 1-1 draw.
Much of it has to do with the individual brilliance of David De Gea, who has been Liverpool’s worse nightmare between the sticks in recent years, and Jose Mourinho’s paralysed fear of not just losing against a top four side, but rather a nemesis of old as well.
Mohamed Salah has been iron hot for Liverpool since moving to Anfield last summer, but it is the multiple attacking threats posed by Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino that United will be wary of.
The Old Trafford faithful will unequivocally get behind the team in full voice, perhaps the loudest they have been all season, one that will undoubtedly charge up their representatives on the turf.
Although both managers have taken a good point off each other in recent meetings, there will be no sharing the spoils this time round.
Man United vs. Liverpool recent results
|October 14, 2017||Man Utd||0||Liverpool||0|
|January 15, 2017||Man Utd||1||Liverpool||1|
|Goal-scorers: James Milner 27′ (P), Zlatan Ibrahimovic 84′|
|October 17, 2016||Liverpool||0||Man Utd||0|
|January 17, 2016||Liverpool||0||Man Utd||1|
|Goal-scorers: Wayne Rooney 78′|
|September 12, 2015||Liverpool||1||Man Utd||3|
|Goal-scorers: Daley Blind 49′, Ander Herrera 70′ (P), Anthony Martial 86′, Christian Benteke 84′|
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