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Klopp’s shaky Reds can out-entertain United in the battle of the struggling big clubs

by Rob Dore | January 14, 2016

Under Jurgen Klopp Liverpool have been as reliable as twenty year old prophylactic. Sometimes they get the job done and in spectacular fashion but they’re just as likely to explode, leaving the manager with an unpleasant mess to clean up.

Things are particularly sticky at the back where a raft of defensive injuries haven’t been helped by a goalkeeping situation which is teetering towards a crisis. Simon Mignolet is a liability whose weakness under the cross and poor positioning has led to Adam Bogdan getting a shot between the sticks, which he fumbled, and now the recalling of 22-year old Danny Ward from his loan spell at Aberdeen. Few Liverpool fans would grumble if the youngster was to start against Manchester United on Sunday.

Simon Mignolet saves penalty against Sunderland

SIMON COWERS: Despite this early peno save Mignolet has lacked the X-Factor so far at Anfield

The good news is that against the bigger teams Liverpool have at least shown they can get it right at the other end of the pitch. They have scored three or more goals in each of their games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. Klopp’s players have responded well to the big game atmosphere and they don’t get any bigger than hosting United.

  • Both teams to score and Liverpool to win:

The Klopp rollercoaster has also proven to be more successful than Louis van Gaal’s plodding United side, if by the slimmest of margins. Since taking control at Anfield Klopp has picked up one more point than his United counterpart.

Both teams are coming off 3-3 draws but Liverpool have the slight advantage of being the side who grabbed the late equaliser whereas United suffered the disappointment of conceding late on. Again the margin is minuscule but every positive has to be counted.

Despite the near identical points totals and identical results coming in to this game it’s only Van Gaal’s position which is under serious threat at the moment. Klopp has the leeway of it being his first season, the near senseless transfer policy of his predecessor and the current injury catastrophe to keep him in the good books.

blog_van-gaal

It’s a different story for Van Gaal whose honeymoon period lapsed long before this season kicked-off. The main gripe of United fans is how dull the football has been. A gripe backed up with hard numbers. Their current 27 goal total is the second lowest United have recorded after 21 games since the very first Premier League season, when they managed just 25 goals.

United’s current goal difference of +7 goals is their worst in Premier League history. Even under David Moyes United were able to boast a +12 goal difference at the same point in the season. Over the course of Alex Ferguson’s last eight seasons at the club the goal difference after 21 games never dropped below +22 goals. It’s hardly a surprise the Old Trafford faithful are disgruntled at the significant drop-off in entertainment.

There is the possibility that this could be a tight low-scoring affair but considering Liverpool’s defensive short-comings and the high-scoring nature of their games against big sides it seems unlikely. Liverpool should probably play a more defensive game after conceding three against Arsenal but given their current defensive situation that’s not a very viable option.

  • Van Gaal to be the next Premier League manager sacked:

If Liverpool go at United with the same attacking intent and belief as they did against Arsenal, City and Chelsea they certainly have the attacking ability to breach the visitor’s defence. United’s biggest struggles this season have come in attack where they have too often been plodding and predictable. That’s not to say they won’t score at Anfield but if Liverpool start on the front foot they can score more they concede to leave Klopp smiling and Van Gaal on the brink.

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