Liverpool at their best suffocate opponents into mistakes but Manchester United at their best break quickly on the counterattack to punish opponents when they think they are most dominant. But will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be bold enough to go toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp’s team?
And then there is how Klopp will suffocate United’s talisman, Bruno Fernandes, the major weapon driving the United charge with goals and assists.
highlights the expected individual battles when the league’s top title winners face off against each other in a top of the table clash on Sunday.
Thiago Alcantara v Bruno Fernandes
Thiago will start his first match at Anfield on Sunday, but in the four matches in which he has been available, the former Bayern midfielder has attempted 273 passes with about 90% accuracy.
In Fernandes, he will be up against the main United offensive point, one who has scored 11 goals and assisted a further seven. One feature of Fernandes’ game is the ability to pick the right pass that leads directly or indirectly into a goal, so Thiago has to be fully ready to spot the gaps to block them so Henderson and Fabinho do not keep running back to their goal.
Thiago has an average of five recoveries per match, while Fernandes attempts an average of 19 forward passes per match. This will be an intriguing battle.
Sadio Mane v Aaron Wan-Bissaka
One Liverpool player who can single-handedly carry the fight to United is Mane, with his guile, strength, and speed. But in Wan-Bissaka, he will be in direct confrontation with one of the best tacklers in the league –49 successful interventions and one last-ditch goal-saving tackle.
Mane and Mohamed Salah get more touches in forward areas than any United team, but they have not really sparked into glorious play like they did last season.
Mane has scored six goals and provided two assists in the EPL but has missed seven big chances. The fear for Wan-Bissaka will be if Mane chooses Sunday to rectify this blip on his record.
Georginio Wijnaldum v Scott McTominay
The Liverpool runner is the Dutch international and his heat map is averagely all over the pitch as he fetches and runs at opposition defenders from deep whilst seeking to arrive in the box to poach goals.
When United have been at their most resilient has been when they have had McTominay positioned in front of the defence, mopping up balls and harassing runners, who could create dangerous situations for his defenders.
McTominay must try to stay on his feet against the darting feet of Wijnaldum, who will seek to draw out both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and McTominay to create space for Mane in behind.
Jordan Henderson v Edinson Cavani
Because of injuries to Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, Henderson is expected to deputise as a central defender, paired with another of Liverpool’s midfielders in Fabinho. Though Henderson can perform the job, the elusive Cavani will test his pace on the turn as the 33-year-old Uruguayan comes alive near or inside the opponent’s box.
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