How do Manchester United beat Liverpool?

Credit: /

Among the many days of reckoning Manchester United will have over the next few months, there are potentially two against Liverpool in the next month and a half. So how do they beat The Reds?

In addition to this Sunday’s colossal league tie, should Liverpool beat Southampton in the League Cup, and United finish Hull off in the second leg, the two red teams will face off again at the end of February.

This Sunday’s Premier League game is a referendum on both teams’ less-than-convincing performances this season. United started strongly before sliding into a stretch of mediocrity, which manager Jose Mourinho has slowly built into an unbeaten run stretching 14 games. Liverpool meanwhile have only improved their all-guns-blazing brand of attacking football they began under Klopp last year, shooting up to second place in the table, but consistently conceding sloppy shot, goals, and losses to teams well below their stature.

More from Manchester United News

Neither team is perfect coming into this game — especially after Liverpool drew with Plymouth and lost to Southampton in the week leading up to it — but both have been incredibly good at moments this season.

The match is further highlighted by the result in the beginning half of the season, when the teams drew 0-0 at Anfield, just one game before United hit rock bottom in a 0-4 home defeat to Chelsea the next week. Unstable United set up to defend, blunt, and block Liverpool’s heavy fire, and succeeded. The challenge at Old Trafford will be doing the same at the back while also pressing for a goal. But with the previous scoreline being so level, it means this game could well go either way.

Liverpool for one will be looking to cause some trouble, for old time’s sake, the sake of their form, and the sake of a title challenge which just reopened after Chelsea suffered their first loss in 14 games last week to Tottenham. As second in the table, Liverpool will also have a point to prove that they can beat the currently sixth placed team, and perform in a big game.

They’ve shown they can do it too, having torn Arsenal, Chelsea, and Leicester — back before they completely reverted to old Leicester —  apart over the first half of the season. United will have their biggest test yet since hitting their stride.

Liverpool’s squad has more chemistry, cohesion, and incisiveness so far this season than Manchester United. They have had an extra 8 months working under Klopp than Mourinho has had at United. And despite their defensive wobbles, their goal difference is double that of United’s.

But Manchester United may have more to play for. They’ll be at home, for one. They are desperate to break into the top five, and need to prove themselves against the current leading teams to do that. To do so they need to show a spine, a consistency, and a winning mentality that has been missing from the club since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

Both clubs are hampered by two names being away for the Africa Cup of Nations in Mane and Bailly, but thanks to injury, Bailly is less integrated to Mourinho’s first team lineup than Mane is to Klopp’s. Mane is a bigger miss for Liverpool than Bailly is for United, with Jones and Rojo making up a solid, if not perfect back line.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata combined with the swashbuckling Valencia on the right side of the pitch should be more than enough to overpower man of all positions / stand in left back James Milner, a glaring weakness in Liverpool’s already flimsy back line. Ander Herrera has a history of stepping up for clashes with Liverpool.

And whichever of his flapping keepers Klopp deploys, they can be counted on to have a less than perfect game, and the difference in a match as big as this may come down to goalkeepers coming up big — as has been United’s foil in many games they’ve dominated this season. He hasn’t been called on as much this season, but David De Gea may need to remind everybody just why Real Madrid were trying to pay so much money for him.

One of the biggest question marks hangs over Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s yet to miss a starting position in a game for the club, and has been essential to the goalscoring tally, putting up 13 goals this season. Illness ruled him out against Hull, according to club spokespeople, which means he could either be off the boil upon his return, or raring to go after a well-deserved break, and eager to press for that Golden Boot. Hopefully it’s the latter, and big Zlats has an extra spring in his martial arts steps.

As if this game didn’t have enough pressure or to play for, whichever way Sunday’s result goes, it will only add fuel to the fire that is the League Cup final. Assuming both teams make it, it will not only be another edition of the classic Liverpool Manchester rivalry — reinvigorated after both clubs have finally found managers worthy of their massive global stature— but it will also be each of the clubs’ managers’ first English cup final at the helm.

The desire to finish the season with at least one trophy, in a season when the Premier League is as competitive as it is, will be irresistible, and will turn the typically underwhelming League Cup final into a classic, epic grudge match.

Manchester United play Liverpool at Old Trafford, 11:00 a.m. EST. Follow along on Twitter as we live tweet the game!