This match doesn’t have much significance in terms of determining prospective title hopes, with both sets of fans surely resigned to another season of relative mediocrity, but it could be crucial in terms of grabbing a top four spot, and for Louis van Gaal’s job prospects it is essential. After contrasting 3-3 draws in midweek there are certainly enough dimensions involved to maintain the interest in the rivalry between these two great clubs.
It’s a rivalry that Van Gaal has certainly enjoyed during his time in England as United have won all three meetings since the start of last season. However, they come into this game on a run of one win in eight matches in the league amid a series of other disappointing performances. The attack has attracted the greatest ire this season, with Old Trafford more of an exercise in sleep therapy than the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ these days, but the defence has now managed just two clean sheets in nine games as Newcastle, Stoke and Bournemouth have all scored at least twice against them in their last three away matches. The Red Devils last 16 trips to middle-third teams have resulted in just four wins as seven of the matches have finished level.
While there isn’t a lot to be positive about Man Utd the same can also be said about Liverpool, who have the unwanted distinction of being the only side in the top 12 with a negative goal difference. They too have struggled for goals while their defence has managed just four clean sheets in 18 games. It’s certainly hard to make a case for them at 2.38 when three of their four home wins this season have come against the bottom five and their Anfield record otherwise reads just W1-D4-L2. So in terms of value the away side has to be the pick, albeit with the draw kept on side, and the Man Utd-Draw Double Chance can be backed at 1.7.
With little to split the teams, however, the half-time draw looks a better bet. 17 of Liverpool’s last 24 matches have been tied at half-time as have 12 of Man Utd’s last 19. Furthermore, it’s nine of Liverpool’s last 11 home games against top-half teams and seven of United’s last 12 trips to middle-third teams.
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