Super Sunday sees the champions-in-waiting frothing at the mouth to procure their first-ever Premier League title take on the most successful team of the EPL era. In the 28 years of the division’s present incarnation, Liverpool FC has never been able to enjoy being on the superior side of the wide gulf that differentiates them from fierce rivals Manchester United as they do today.
Though the Red Devils remain the only Premier League side this season to take points from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, being arguably the better side in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in mid-October, the current Champions League holders have been insatiable throughout. Ruthless and pragmatic, rather than consistent flamboyant entertainment.
Manchester United have been, well, hard to define. This weekend’s unenviable trip to Merseyside sees Man Utd potentially without arguably their best player this season, the ever-improving Marcus Rashford.
Despite inconsistency throughout the campaign - wins over Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester City, losses to Watford, Newcastle United, and Bournemouth - there have been positives for Manchester United, namely the rewards from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reliance in a youthful attacking triumvirate: Manchester United’s front three of Anthony Martial (24 years old), Rashford (22), and Mason Greenwood (18) have so far combined for 39 goals across all competitions this season. Wythenshawe-born Rashford is the joint second-highest goalscorer in the Premier League this campaign, three goals behind leader Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.
The 22-year-old is unfortunate to miss out on the match in Merseyside with a hip injury confirmed by his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. ‘The M&Ms’ - Marcus, Mason, and Martial - have scored on 19, nine, and 11 occasions, respectively. What makes this even more impressive on paper is that Liverpool’s fabled trio of Sadio Mané, and Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino (Mane and Salah joint-recipients of the 18/19 Golden Boot) have one less with 38.
As football journalist Laurie Whitewell has also highlighted, the average minutes per goal for Rashford, Martial, and Greenwood is 136.7, due to Martial’s two-month lay-off and Greenwood’s gradual but not instantaneous ascension. For Salah, Mané, and Firmino it is 191.4.
However, studying the opposite side of the XI, Manchester United’s cluster of full-backs (Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, and the departed Ashley Young) have provided just one assist this season, though academy graduate Williams and £50m summer recruit Wan-Bissaka have been heralded for their defensive capabilities.
In comparison Liverpool’s superb Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have 14 between them, elucidating their imperativeness to Klopp’s attack. Despite the attention brought by £75million centre-back, the impervious Virgil van Dijk, that’s simply an £8million duo from which Liverpool have reaped the dividends and worth now at least ten times that amount.
Liverpool haven’t just stormed ahead of Manchester United, their blinkered rampage has distanced themselves from the rest of the Premier League pack: 55% of their season completed, and 14 points clear (with a game in hand).
The quest for Liverpool now is not simply to achieve the Premier League title, but continue to try and emulate Arsene Wenger’s fabled Arsenal side of 2003/04, who went the entire season unbeaten. If Klopp’s Reds reach April 25th, welcoming Burnley undefeated at Anfield it will have been three years since Liverpool last lost a home game in the league, what would be another remarkable achievement.
But first, of course, is the little obstacle of a smarting but still potentially lethal nemesis Manchester United. Since completing a league double over United in 2013/14, Liverpool have won just one of their 11 Premier League games against the Red Devils, and Klopp has the worst win ratio over them out of any of the teams he has faced more than 10 times. It may not have been their sponsors since the turn of the millennium, but at least Man Utd’s teeth are still Sharp.
We’ve broken down all the stats you need to know ahead of the most anticipated fixture in English football this weekend.
Total points in Premier League (Ahead of the match on January 19, 2020)
Manchester United: 34
Longest winning run in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 12 (27 October until present)
Manchester United: 2 (Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, 4 - 7 December / Newcastle United and Burnley 26 - 18 December)
Longest unbeaten run in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 21 (Gameweek 1 until present)
Manchester United: 6 (between 10 November and 15 December 2019)
Total wins in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 20 (1st) - five better than nearest contenders Manchester City
Manchester United: 9 (5th)
Goals Scored in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 50 (2nd)
Manchester United: 36 (5th)
Clean Sheets in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 8 (Joint 1st)
Manchester United: 4 (16th)
Different scorers in Premier League 19/20:
Manchester United: 8
Goals conceded in Premier League 19/20:
Liverpool: 14 (1st)
Manchester United: 25 (4th)