Check out the big questions ahead of English football’s biggest grudge match, plus where to watch on Virgin Media
By Simon Ward, Content Editor
Manchester United against Liverpool isn’t quite the same box office dust-up as it was five or ten years ago. Sure, it’s still the most watched game in world football. But it no longer has the pedigree (at least on these shores) of being the game every football fan rushes to circle the moment the fixtures are released.
From Liverpool’s perspective, it’s United’s very noisy, trophy-grabbing neighbours who have emerged as the side they’d desperately love to beat. And yet, while the City-Liverpool matches often see some of the league’s best football, played by two football-loving teams, it’s a rivalry of respect. Of begrudging admiration. Two sides pushing each other. The same cannot be said of United-Liverpool.
It’s a fixture steeped in history. And red cards. If the City-Liverpool games are a ballet, against United it’s a brawl. These are two teams who, let’s not beat around the bush, truly hate one another, at least historically. Steven Gerrard was once sent off after just 38 seconds, which tells you almost everything you need to know about the feelings bubbling under the surface of this tie.
That intensity has softened on the pitch as the years have gone by – thanks largely to the different trajectory of the sides, epitomised by a 9-0 aggregate score in Liverpool’s favour over the two games last season. But if there’s one fixture that could boil over into all-out bedlam at any moment, it’s this one.
These are the two most successful clubs in British football, after all. Whether it’s a pre-season “friendly” or a cup final, people are very much keeping score. United fans will point towards their 20 league titles to Liverpool’s 19 and their dominance of the early Premier League. The Merseysiders will point to their current golden era and their six European Cups. And when we say ‘point’, it’s usually with a single finger.
Going into the tie, there’s plenty more to stir the pot this year. Neither side have started the season as anticipated. Both are having their transfer policies scrutinised. City are doing what City do and have already opened up a lead on both teams. In August. And Liverpool will want to right a pre-season wrong after United beat them 4-0. As we said, these are two teams who always keep score.
Let’s look at the big questions going in the game, which you can see live on Sky Sports…
Can Manchester United beat Liverpool in this game?
A 4-0 defeat against Brentford has shown that Manchester United already have a mountain to climb this season
Many signs would suggest it’s unlikely – such as the 9-0 aggregate score last season as Liverpool ripped them apart under two different managers, plus United have started the season poorly, which is putting it mildly if you ask Gary Neville. But Liverpool also haven’t hit top gear yet. They have injuries. Darwin Núñez is… absent. Fulham showed if you get in their face, you don’t give them time and you stick to your game plan, you’ll have a chance. Crystal Palace showed the effectiveness of a counterattack against their backline.
In Erik ten Hag, United have a manager who, given time, can drill a more tactical mindset into a side that looked so wayward last term. Put it this way, there has never been a better time to play Liverpool. Then again, after the horror show against Brentford, has there ever been a better time to play United?
Are Liverpool a worse team this season because they lost Sadio Mané?
Liverpool paid big for new signing Darwin Núñez
There’s no doubt Sadio Mané improves any team – something he’s already doing for new club Bayern Munich. The current African Player of the Year, he was the catalyst who kick-started Jürgen Klopp’s revolution. While Luis Díaz has impressed since his move in January, quickly establishing Mané’s left-wing home as his own, his proficiency in front of goal has been wanting compared with the Senegalese. And against Crystal Palace, his worldie aside, we saw both the good and bad of his game.
But are Liverpool worse? Time will tell, largely depending on Darwin Núñez who, because of the man he’s replaced and sizable transfer fee (and with Diogo Jota injured), needs to be equally transformative. Following his red card against Palace which rules him out for this tie, he probably needs to transform into a much calmer person as well...
Should Liverpool have bought a midfielder in the summer transfer window?
Have Liverpool gambled with their lack of new midfielders ahead of this season?
Hindsight is a glorious thing. Going into their pre-season, the middle of the park looked stacked for the reds. Then Thiago, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got injured and Naby Keïta picked up an illness – four players who are already very familiar with the sickbay – and after a poor first game for Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, questions are being asked.
Jürgen Klopp said he didn’t need any more midfielders and pointed to youngsters Harvey Elliott and Fábio Carvalho (who impressed in pre-season), saying he believed they were ready to step up. But that brings a different kind of pressure. Two games in, two draws, four points off Manchester City going into the weekend, and with a long season ahead, it’s looking like a gamble.
Have Manchester United had a good summer transfer window?
Christian Eriksen is one of only three players Manchester United have signed so far during the summer transfer window
In a word: no. In more words: they’ve brought in three players, the same as the side they’re facing on Monday. But Liverpool were two points off the title last season – United were 36 points adrift. And even after just two matches so far this season, they’re already six points off City. Even with a brilliant manager in Ten Hag, it’s hard to believe the business they’ve done this summer combined with his coaching will help United bridge that gap. And questions are already being asked about those signings, with defender Lisandro Martínez’s size coming in for particular criticism (although at least he won’t have to face Darwin Núñez this time).
Can United improve the situation before the window closes? Well, it doesn’t help that they can’t offer Champions League football. And with Cristiano Ronaldo still seemingly pushing for an exit, and Marcus Rashford’s representatives allegedly meeting with PSG, their situation (which already seems pretty bad!) may get worse before it gets better.
What can Liverpool or Manchester United hope to get from this season?
If United lose their third game on the bounce, their top-four mission is already in trouble. This would also be their fourth straight league loss to Liverpool
Anything other than a Premier League or Champions League trophy will be seen as a disappointment for Liverpool – because that is the high standard they’ve set themselves. But they’ve also lost vital goal scorers in Mané, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino, so a repeat of last season’s 63 games, three cup finals and two trophies seems a tall order.
And the season hasn’t started well for the Scousers in front of goal. As former Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher said: “Draws feel like defeats.” While dropped points in August may not seem like a disaster now, City aren’t doing the same and they clinched the title by two points last term.
United fans, meanwhile, would love to see some silverware again with a run in the Europa League or domestic cup competition, but that would be papering over the cracks. The aim for them must be the top four, an ambition that has been made even more difficult considering the progress Tottenham and Arsenal have made in pre-season – two sides that have serious ambitions of challenging City and Liverpool’s monopoly.
When is Manchester United v Liverpool?
Manchester United v Liverpool will take place on Monday 22 August 2022.
Check out our fixtures finder guide for the latest information and times.
What time is kick-off?
Manchester United v Liverpool will kick off at 8pm.
There are plenty of other matches on TV this weekend including Bournemouth v Arsenal, Leeds v Chelsea and Newcastle v Manchester City on Sky Sports Premier League/HD and Tottenham Hotspur v Wolves on BT Sport 1 HD.
What TV channel is Manchester United v Liverpool on?
You can watch the match live on Sky Sports Premier League/HD (CH 512/502) from 7pm.
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How to live stream Manchester United v Liverpool
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