Manchester United have been awesome but untested in the 2017-18 Premier League season, though that will change on Saturday when they head to Anfield to take on bitter rivals Liverpool. Jose Mourinho’s team have won six and drawn one of their opening seven matches, playing the type of physical and incisive football you’d expect from his sides. Still, United have yet to meet any of their title rivals, with this tussle with Liverpool marking the start of a much more testing run of fixtures. As for Liverpool, a stuttering beginning to the season will look like a much more accomplished one if they can win here. And based on Jurgen Klopp’s record in the big games as Reds boss, it would be unwise to write them off despite some recent issues.
Monaghan is the type of person that makes friends wherever he goes, like the waiter in the hotel where he was staying when Liverpool travelled to Russia to play Spartak Moscow last month. The waiter, from Donetsk in Ukraine, had spent the evening listening to stories about Anfield when Monaghan suggested he should attend Liverpool’s game with him the following night. Since sourcing him a ticket and persuading the bar manager it was a good idea to let one of his staff to have some impromptu time off, the waiter and Monaghan have been in regular contact through. The stakes are higher than ever in the Manchester derby now that City aren’t rubbish anymore. matches will always be special for Reds who came of age in the 1990s,
when Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson and their respective teams cooked up the best rivalry in the Premier League era. But there’s something special about clashes between England’s two biggest clubs. No fixture gets the juices flowing quite like. Liverpool and United have, strangely enough, not enjoyed the sort of sustained title rivalry in recent decades that United had with Arsenal before Wenger became washed up. Mostly because Liverpool haven’t won the league since Moses was in short pants. And in the decade or two before that, when Liverpool were annoyingly good and successful, United were famous, but not up to much in terms of competing for titles. Still, there’s a certain anxiety that many United supporters feel when their team travels to Anfield, regardless of either team’s title prospects at the time. Under Fergie, United had a habit of failing to turn up every other time they traveled there, and their record reflects that. United’s recent record away at their historical rivals is actually quite good, not having lost there in the league since 2013.
This season is still in its relative infancy, but it doesn’t look like these two old rivals will be going head to head for the title based on the evidence so far. While United have started the season like a house on fire, Jürgen Klopp is celebrating his two year anniversary at Liverpool with unfavorable comparisons of his record to that of Brendan Rodgers. José Mourinho and United will be looking to get a good result to Anfield as a statement of their title challenging bonafides, while Liverpool need a strong performance to breathe some life into their stillborn season. Both teams enter this match missing their best player, with Marouane Fellaini Paul Pogba a medium-term absentee for United, and Sadio Mané similarly sidelined for the next few weeks. How each manager adjusts to those absences will be telling. Mourinho is well-known to favor a pragmatic approach in away matches against rivals, and Klopp’s instinct will be to stick to his style, regardless of personnel.