Manchester United vs Liverpool is still arguably the biggest match in English football, even if it’s been rare that they’ve been competing with each other for the title in the last quarter of a century.
Jürgen Klopp’s side will hope history repeats itself. Liverpool victories at Old Trafford are rare events – there have been just 13 in history – but they have won in each of the last two seasons where they were embroiled in the title tussle. As this is their game in hand on Manchester City, three points here would do Liverpool’s championship challenge the power of good.
The most fascinating match up in this game is between two players who probably won’t come into much direct contact during the match. But according to our algorithm they’ve been the top man for each side, so will surely have key parts to play on Sunday.
What makes it even more interesting is their relatively poor personal records in this fixture. The men in question are Paul Pogba and Mohamed Salah.
When looking at these two teams for the season as a whole, the Liverpool man has amassed the most Twelve points. However, for the nine match weeks since Solskjaer took over, Pogba has the edge.
To add an extra layer of intrigue, Pogba and Salah haven’t even faced each other with their current teams either. Pogba’s last appearance against Liverpool came in 2016/17. He conceded a penalty which enabled the visitors to take the lead at Old Trafford, before the game ended 1-1. A mixture of injuries and José Mourinho’s stubbornness mean he hasn’t faced United’s greatest rivals since.
Salah hasn’t done much better. The Red Devils are one of only five teams the Egyptian has faced with Liverpool but failed to score against, and the only one of the quintet he’s played more than twice. Across his three games against United, Salah has had eight shots worth a total of 0.48 expected goals.
His average of 0.06 per shot equals his worst figure for Liverpool, tied with Burnley. Mourinho’s United like Burnley? Who’d have thought it? With stats like those, we shouldn’t be surprised he remains goalless in this fixture.
The low point from Salah’s perspective was the corresponding fixture last season. He finished a lowly 20th in the match rankings – surely his worst leader board performance for the Reds? – in large part as his direct opponent, Ashley Young, played superbly against him. The winger-turned-full-back was rated second best for defensive points that day. You’ll go a long way to see a Salah dashboard as devoid of important attacking actions as this one is.
The form scorers for each side, if we exclude Paul Pogba’s plethora of penalties, are Marcus Rashford (with five goals in his last eight starts) and Sadio Mané (who bagged four goals in four games prior to the 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich on Tuesday). Whomever out of Salah and Pogba brings their A game to this one could prove decisive though.