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Mo Salah is key, Man United must start fast at Anfield and Liverpool have to defend well

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Mo Salah is the key man, Man United MUST start fast and Liverpool have to defend well... As the champions host the leaders in top-of the-table clash, we asked our reporters what will happen at Anfield - and FOUR of them went for the same scoreline!Liverpool host Manchester United in top-of-the-table clash on SundayChampions Liverpool are three points behind Premier League leaders UnitedThe home side are the favourites despite failing to win their last three matchesSportsmail's reporters run through their match predictions and expectations 

Not since 2008-09 and Rafa Benitez's infamous 'facts' rant have Liverpool and Manchester United been in a title race together.



Manchester United were dominant for the first two decades of the Premier League's existence, but have fallen away as Liverpool have re-emerged as the pre-eminent force in English football in the last few years under Jurgen Klopp.



Seventeen matches into this season, however, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United side find themselves top of the league and three points clear of their nearest rivals Liverpool in second place.

Mo Salah celebrates scoring for Liverpool in their 2-0 win over Man United in January 2020

United are still third favourites to win the title, but know those odds will shorten significantly if they win at Anfield on Sunday, with Liverpool out of form having not won in their last three matches.

It is a beautifully poised match-up which the whole world will be watching and here, Sportsmail's reporters have shared their insights on Sunday's game... 

IAN LADYMAN

Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

David De Gea. He has been the subject of much discussion again this season. The Spaniard is not the consistently brilliant performer he once was for United but remains exceptionally talented on his day and this will have to be one of his better afternoons of the season. 

Liverpool have not been at their fluent best for a while but they are still likely to create big chances in this game. This is a game that finds Liverpool – for the first time in a long time – with a point to prove and we can expect their performance to reflect that. I would expect De Gea to be busy.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

He needs his team to defend well. For all their attacking vibrancy last season, Liverpool's title success was won on the back of a kind of defensive certainty that has been missing this season.

What Ole needs to do to win it

His team need to take their chances as they in all likelihood won't get many. United have a problem in terms of possession in big games. In short, they don't tend to get enough of it. When they do at Anfield, they must use it well. 

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has been getting back to his best form

DOMINIC KING

Score: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Mohamed Salah. His goal at Villa Park in the FA Cup ended a little drought and he will be anxious to get his league total ticking over again. He's due a big performance.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Remind his players about their capabilities and their reputations and tell them to play like champions. Much is made about Liverpool's vulnerability in central defence but they will be full strength elsewhere. It's time for them to make a statement.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Play in the way they have done on their travels all season. United are well equipped to pick Liverpool off on the counter-attack and have some outstanding forwards. If they can frustrate Liverpool, they will have opportunities on the break. 

Jurgen Klopp is trying to pull his Liverpool squad through a sticky patch at the moment

CHRIS WHEELER 

Score: Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Sadio Mane. His pace will be a real problem for United's centre backs.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Blunt United's counter attack. Solskjaer will look to contain Liverpool and then hit them on the break.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Cut off the supply line from Liverpool's marauding full-backs. He played a back-three and wing-backs in both meetings between the two clubs last season to tackle that threat. United failed to cut out Andy Robertson's cross when Adam Lallana equalised in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, but neither of Liverpool's goals came from the flanks in a 2-0 win at Anfield.

The pace of Sadio Mane will be a threat to Manchester United as they look to upset the odds

IAN HERBERT

Score: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Mo Salah. Always a threat of course but the space that United's defence has tended to allow opposition players means that he could run amok if Liverpool start at the necessary blistering pace.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Swamp United early and capitalise on the fact that they are slow starters this season.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Make his players understand the significance of this match and defend as if their lives depended upon it. Try to strike on the counter-attack. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be priming his team to strike Liverpool on the counter-attack

CRAIG HOPE 

Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Marcus Rashford. Liverpool are clearly vulnerable at the back right now and his pace will terrify a makeshift defence.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

He needs to find a way to get his misfiring front three to mask their current frailties at the other end of the pitch. For at the moment, Liverpool are limping along. This, though, could be the game they need to rediscover their best, especially with the incentive to reclaim top spot.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Attack. Get the ball to Rashford and Martial and tell them to run at Liverpool's centre backs. If not, get the ball to Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba and instruct them to drop passes in behind for the likes of Rashford and Martial to chase. Either way, a positive approach should yield chances. 

Marcus Rashford's asset of sheer pace will scare Liverpool's makeshift defence at Anfield 

ADRIAN KAJUMBA

Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Joel Matip. The last senior centre back standing for Liverpool and will surely be needed if Liverpool are to stand a chance of getting a result.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Firstly, hope Matip is fit so he can at least have one experienced and natural centre back on the pitch. Secondly, hope that this fixture inspires Liverpool to rediscover some of their mojo. The goals and attacking fluency have dried up in the Premier League since their win at Crystal Palace but Liverpool have had the edge against United at Anfield in recent years. The whole occasion could spark his side back into life, even if only for just 90 minutes.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Attack Liverpool. The loss mainly of Virgil van Dijk but also of Joe Gomez on top of that has not hurt Liverpool as much as many expected but, still, they have lost some of their aura in their absence. While Liverpool's main midfield and attacking options remain intact, their defence is an area to try and exploit. United have preferred to sit in and counter in the bigger games but attack could be the best form of defence on Sunday.  

Liverpool will be hoping Joel Matip is fit in the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez

DANIEL MATTHEWS 

Score: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Marcus Rashford. Liverpool's patched-up backline have generally coped well but they have repeatedly looked vulnerable to balls in behind. In particular, teams have been targeting the space behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, who's form has been a concern. 

Rashford has given him kittens before and his pace and trickery could prove devastating unless Liverpool can cut off supply.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Going forward, the Liverpool boss needs to coax a tune from Liverpool's front three. They were wasteful against Newcastle and then toothless against Southampton. 

It's a mark of their incredible standards that they appear so far off their best, and yet Mo Salah (17), Sadio Mane (9) and Roberto Firmino (5) have 31 goals between them. At the other end, Jordan Henderson - or whoever sits at the base of Liverpool's midfield - will need to stay snug to Fernandes. If not, he could pull Liverpool's backline apart.

What Ole needs to do to win it

Start fast. United are the side with momentum, they are the team in form. But those advantages can evaporate rapidly – particularly while frailties remain at the back. If Liverpool are allowed an early advantage, they still have more than enough quality to steamroll United. But question marks and uncertainty hang over the hosts heading into the game. United can't afford to let that chink of vulnerability close. 

Salah ended his goalscoring drought with a strike against Aston Villa in the FA Cup

TOM COLLOMOSSE 

Score: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Bruno Fernandes. His impact since his move to Old Trafford has been likened to that of Eric Cantona in the 1992-93 season, and it is not difficult to see why. Apart from his effect on the pitch with goals and assists, Fernandes is clearly a huge influence on his team-mates and has quickly become a key man in the dressing room. This sort of match is the ideal stage for him.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

United's speed in attack means they are devastating on the break and while Liverpool like to play an offensive game, they will have to be careful about the spaces they leave in defence and midfield. Lose possession anywhere on the field and this United team will punish you.

What Solskjaer needs to do to win it

Protect the back four. Liverpool's attacking trio of Salah, Firmino and Mane remains one of the most effective in Europe and despite their recent improvement at the back, United can still look wobbly. Solskjaer may use two holding midfielders to provide extra security when Liverpool have the ball.  

Bruno Fernandes has been the key player in United's recovery from a slow start this season

KIERAN GILL

Score: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

Who will be the key man? 

Salah, the Premier League's top scorer. Liverpool have looked out of sync in attack at times this season, but Salah is still the one capable of dancing around Manchester United's defence to score. He will be key.

What Klopp needs to do to win it

Get his decisions right in defence. If Matip is not fit, as we don't expect him to be, who starts at centre back? Fabinho, for one, but then will he be partnered by Henderson, Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips? I'd rather see Phillips there, and leave Henderson in midfield.

What Ole needs to do to win it

United will go without the majority of the ball but they don't mind that. They have Fernandes and surround him with fast forwards. The way for them to win this is to be clinical on the counter.


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