16:00 GMT 15 January 2017
Having won 6 games on the trot, you would expect Manchester United to have catapulted themselves up the league. Unfortunately for them, the Christmas period saw most of the top teams winning. So while they have reduced the gap, they still sit in 6th place. But the upcoming North-West Derby represents another chance for them to gain ground on another of their top 6 rivals.
Liverpool meanwhile, received a blow to their title ambitions when they could only manage a draw away to Sunderland thanks to a late Jermain Defoe penalty.
Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho opened his book of dark tactics when his side visited Liverpool in their first meeting in mid-October. At times United employed a back 6 to stifle Liverpool's attack.
However, he will be expected to play a slightly more open game at the 'Theatre of Dreams'. With Zlatan on form, and summer signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba finally showing why they commanded such huge transfer fees, you would expect them to give Liverpool's shaky defence something to worry about this time.
Perhaps the most valuable player during this run of form is the ageing playmaker, Michael Carrick. It is no coincidence that Manchester United's resurgence has coincided with his return to the starting lineup. He has been the heartbeat of this United side with his exquisite range of passing.
Mourinho looks to have brought some balance to the United team finally, but it is still a team that is clearly built on a solid defensive foundation, as they have only shipped 5 goals in the last 8 matches.
Jurgen Klopp will be keen to show that their 2-2 draw against struggling Sunderland was just a blip and that his side has what it takes to win the title this season. And there is no better statement of intent than a victory away to Manchester United.
They have terrorised defences across the division, with some scintillating attacking displays as the league's top goalscorers. But perhaps their one weakness has been in defensive areas, and this is surely an area that United will be looking to exploit.
It is quite a difficult period for Liverpool, with this match sandwiched between a League Cup semi-final and an FA Cup replay. With injuries and an African Cup of Nations call-up, Jurgen Klopp has his work cut out. As seen recently in the matches between the Premier Leagues top clubs, they are decided by fine margins, and he will be hoping that the previously mentioned factors don't work too heavily in Manchester United's favour.
Head to head matches: Manchester United - Liverpool FC
|17.10.2016||Prem||Liverpool FC||Manchester United||0:0|
|17.03.2016||UEFA||Manchester United||Liverpool FC||1:1|
|10.03.2016||UEFA||Liverpool FC||Manchester United||2:0|
|17.01.2016||Prem||Liverpool FC||Manchester United||0:1|
|12.09.2015||Prem||Manchester Utd||Liverpool FC||3:1|
Latest matches: Manchester United
|10.01.2017||EFL||Manchester United||Hull City||2:0||W|
|07.01.2017||FA C||Manchester United||Reading FC||4:0||W|
|02.01.2017||Prem||West Ham United||Manchester United||0:2||W|
|31.12.2016||Prem||Manchester United||Middlesbrough FC||2:1||W|
|26.12.2016||Prem||Manchester United||Sunderland AFC||3:1||W|
Latest matches: Liverpool FC
|11.01.2017||EFL||Southampton FC||Liverpool FC||1:0||L|
|08.01.2017||FA C||Liverpool FC||Plymouth Argyle||0:0||D|
|02.01.2017||Prem||Sunderland AFC||Liverpool FC||2:2||D|
|31.12.2016||Prem||Liverpool FC||Manchester City||1:0||W|
|27.12.2016||Prem||Liverpool FC||Stoke City||4:1||W|
Mourinho doesn't have many concerns ahead of the visit of Liverpool, with Marcos Rojo likely to be the only player to miss out through injury. Defender Eric Bailly has joined up with the Ivory Coast national team ahead of the African Cup of Nations which leaves them relying heavily on Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
Jurgen Klopp has a number of doubts for the trip to Old Trafford. James Milner should return to fulfil his duty at left-back, but having spent 7 weeks on the sideline, it is unsure whether Coutinho will be able to start – but he will be in contention. Joel Matip (ankle), Jordan Henderson (heel) and Marko Grujic (tendon) are also sight doubts.
Perhaps the biggest loss is flying forward and top goalscorer Sadio Mane who has joined up with his Senegalese team mates for duty at the African Cup of Nations.
Manchester United have made tremendous strides since the two clubs last met, and seem to be flying at the moment. They look sound in defence, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is proving the doubters wrong that said he was too old for the Premier League. Mourinho will be relishing the opportunity to continue his sides winning run and squeeze the gap between themselves and the top 5 even further.
Question marks will be asked about how Liverpool will cope with the absence of Sadio Mane, but they have capable back-up with Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho's return his a huge boost. With the top 6 teams winning at a furious rate, it is a case of who blinks first, and Liverpool can't really afford more dropped points if they have serious title winning ambitions.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic first goalscorer - 7/2
1-1 Correct Score – 11/2
Zlatan Ibrahimovic FGS & 1-1 Correct Score - 22/1
Adam Lallana Anytime Goalscorer – 9/2
Half Time/Full Time – Manchester United/Draw - 15/1
15 January 2017 - 16:00 GMT
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