Manchester United need to solve one big problem if they are to win the Premier League and not just fall off in the second half of the season.
Being at the top of the Premier League table is a position that few Manchester United fans would have imagined last season. Capitalising on other teams’ misfortune is something that the Red Devils have relied on. However, they need to sort out the problems they’ve had when it comes to beating the traditional ‘Big Six’.
Solskjaer has undoubtedly improved United’s record against the big sides, with the squad being miles improved against their biggest rivals since the departure of Jose Mourinho. However, United have not had anything on the line quite like this, having struggled in the league for the past few years, now they are competing for the title. They have to not let the pressure get to them, especially against the top teams.
United’s most recent defeat against a team in the ‘Big Six’ was in the League Cup against Manchester City, just a week ago. Arguably, the main difference between the two teams was that the Red Devils were relying on individual brilliance, namely from Bruno Fernandes, which makes them as a team, easier to figure out.
Whilst Manchester City have brilliant players, and a large amount of their play goes through Kevin de Bruyne, it is rare for them not to have any other player to turn to if the Belgian was marked out of the game.
Their next game against a top side is against Liverpool, away from home. Winning the game will just increase United’s lead at the top while it could shatter Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of winning back-to-back league titles.
In recent years, there has been a massive gulf in quality between the two sides, with Liverpool winning both the Premier League and the Champions League whilst the Red Devils have floundered.
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United must be careful that they keep themselves defensively organised and rely on their wingers to exploit Liverpool’s full-backs. In terms of form, Klopp’s side have lost once, drawn twice and won twice in their last five games, whereas Solskjaer’s side have won four and drawn once.
Based on form, United are the favourites over an injury-ravaged Liverpool. Furthermore, there will be no fans at Anfield which arguably makes it an easier place to go to without the intimidating atmosphere. Hopefully, this will work to their advantage.
Another struggle that United face against bigger teams is their defence. When you are up against quality teams, they are likely to be more of an attacking threat. Defensively, the Red Devils have struggled to find a solid back-line, which has been their downfall against better sides. They are prone to bad positioning or woeful defending from set-pieces.
One way United could continue to improve against their rivals is to strengthen their squad. If they are solely relying on Fernandes, they need to channel their play through another player in situations where he gets found out. Perhaps get someone in January, like their main transfer target from last summer: Jadon Sancho?