All-time low of the desk, with out a level, query marks in regards to the enjoying squad and a brand new supervisor who’s but to settle in on the membership. On paper, the Monday Evening Soccer conflict at residence to Liverpool doesn’t look good for Manchester United.
After defeats to Brighton and Brentford of their opening two video games of the season, Erik ten Hag’s aspect are struggling in the mean time and probably the greatest aspect’s in world soccer arriving on their doorstep is the very last thing United want. If final season’s outcomes are something to go by, Outdated Trafford might witness an actual hammering.
However whereas many of the soccer world was speaking about United’s catastrophe scenario on Monday, one other twist got here within the type of Liverpool dropping extra factors at residence to Crystal Palace.
All of the sudden, Jurgen Klopp’s aspect are themselves with out a win of their opening two matches as nicely – and a victory for United on Monday night time won’t solely ease a few of the issues but additionally take them above their fiercest rivals within the desk.
So do that United aspect, determined for on-pitch confidence and within the lowest place they’ve ever been within the Premier League, actually stand an opportunity in opposition to Klopp’s Reds?
Properly, Liverpool do not begin nicely in any respect
Liverpool dropping common factors so early within the season could seem unusual to many, however a pattern that drags again into final season may very well be behind this staggered begin to the marketing campaign.
Of their final 9 matches in all competitions – not together with the Neighborhood Protect win over Manchester Metropolis in pre-season – Liverpool have conceded the primary aim of the sport in eight of them, the one exception being the goalless FA Cup last in opposition to Chelsea, which the Reds needed to win on penalties. They’ve additionally conceded first of their final six Premier League outings.
To place it merely, Liverpool generally tend to start out video games slowly. Every of the final 9 video games have taken totally different patterns: it’s both Liverpool deservedly going behind early on – they’ve conceded within the first quarter-hour in 4 out of their final 9 video games – or failing to capitalise on their early dominance and conceding in opposition to the run of play.
The explanations for this are unknown as there are such a lot of components which might contribute to this. Final season, it may very well be pinpointed to the fatigue Liverpool’s gamers might have been feeling – they performed 64 video games – however it is very important word they remained unbeaten in all however a type of video games in 90 minutes, so they’d the vitality to get well.
There have additionally been particular person errors within the final 9 video games, notably of their high-line again 4, whereas Liverpool have confronted plenty of robust groups in large venues – equivalent to knockout video games and cup finals – on this run. Outdated Trafford can actually present one other difficult setting on Monday night time, particularly with Liverpool already dealing with the stress of catching as much as the highest of the desk.
“Sadly, every week, [there is] a distinct scenario, a distinct staff,” mentioned Klopp when requested about beginning video games poorly earlier than their most up-to-date match. “We have to be prepared for all of them.”
United, who discovered themselves 4-0 right down to Brentford after 35 minutes final week, understand how devastating a constructive begin might be. Liverpool’s slack begins in latest months ought to be on the entrance of their minds after they come out of the tunnel on Monday.
Klopp additionally has a number of gamers lacking
Rather a lot has been made from the morale in United’s camp over the previous two weeks. However all will not be nicely at Liverpool, particularly in the case of the medical room.
“It was like we had a witch within the constructing,” mentioned Klopp, who’s discovering life “tough” with so many absentees in his first-team squad at this early stage of the season.
Liverpool’s important concern is in midfield, with Thiago Alcantara out for an additional month, and Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain additionally on the therapy desk. That leaves Jordan Henderson, Harvey Elliott and James Milner left to help Fabinho in the course of the pitch, with Naby Keita understood to be sad along with his lack of sport time at Liverpool.
In the meantime, Joel Matip is a doubt on the again so Nat Phillips and Joe Gomez will compete for the spot subsequent to Virgil van Dijk in central defence – whereas there’s a critical striker scarcity with Darwin Nunez suspended following his crimson card in opposition to Crystal Palace, Diogo Jota nonetheless injured and Roberto Firmino solely simply again from damage and never at 100 per cent.
Liverpool might have a robust squad – and a number of other gamers might return for the Manchester United showdown – however Klopp’s aspect won’t be within the peak situation they introduced with them when the 2 sides performed these derby matches final season.
Are Liverpool changing into extra wasteful?
One motive which might clarify Liverpool’s slight distinction in type is a scarcity of scientific ending.
Klopp’s aspect have failed to attain a first-half aim in six out of their final 9 matches in all competitions – however a better take a look at Liverpool’s play reveals they haven’t switched to a distinct model of play in any respect.
Because the begin of this difficult run from the start of Might, Liverpool are simply pretty much as good on the ball and create extra probabilities in comparison with the primary half of 2022 – however the one distinction is the standard of their ending.
The Reds’ shot accuracy and targets per 90 have dropped considerably because the begin of Might they usually convert simply 1.63 of probabilities per match – despite the fact that they create a mean of 16 alternatives per sport.
With Nunez suspended in addition to Firmino and Jota each missing match sharpness and never at 100 per cent, Liverpool might have to seek out some particular inspiration at Outdated Trafford in the event that they wish to repair this difficulty.
However but – there’s the Salah issue
Despite the fact that Liverpool have accidents and small considerations over their ending, they nonetheless have the most important trump card in Mohamed Salah.
Final season, the Egyptian winger triggered United an entire load of issues, scoring 5 targets and including two assists within the two video games, which the Reds gained 9-0 on combination.
Whereas Salah’s aim output diminished barely on the again finish of final season, particularly after the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool’s No 11 has began this season in dynamic trend.
After getting a aim and an help on the opening weekend of the season at Fulham, Salah then created eight probabilities on his personal within the draw with Crystal Palace – the best achieved by any Premier League participant in almost 12 months.
There can be plenty of stress on Salah’s shoulders when it comes to creativity and goalscoring on Monday night time, however the Liverpool man has proven he can deal with it.