Manchester United v Liverpool: Tactical Analysis


Manchester United and Liverpool go head-to-head on Nissan Super Sunday in one of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the Premier League season so far.

Jose Mourinho’s side are looking for a 10th consecutive victory in all competitions, but the old rivals will be eager to halt their progress at Old Trafford.
So where will the encounter be won and lost?
Valencia vulnerability?
One of Manchester United’s standout players this season has been Antonio Valencia. I think he has been absolutely fantastic. He runs that right-hand side near enough on his own.
There’s a real difference between United’s two full-backs. If it’s Daley Blind who plays, he’s more of a player who will back up the play, whereas Valencia loves to get forward.
More often than not, he will find himself in that right-wing position. He will have that whole area to himself because Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata like to go into the centre.
Because of that, there could be a little bit of space for Liverpool to get some joy. If they can win the ball back when Manchester United are on the attack, that’s where they should go.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Klopp said to his front three players, ‘Get yourself into the position which has been vacated by Valencia’.
That area behind the United right-back could be key. Liverpool’s forwards can get in down the channel, then what would happen is that Phil Jones would have to get over there and leave space in the middle. That’s something to keep an eye out for in terms of where Liverpool can get at United.
Importance of Henderson
When you talk about Liverpool you talk about Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, but for me Jordan Henderson is such a key player.
Klopp will be hoping he’s fit to play, because Henderson will be the one covering the likes of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren. The area in front of the defence can be a really difficult proposition for the centre-backs.
What do they do? Do they go into those areas and leave themselves vulnerable to the pace United have got in behind? Or do they leave it and allow Zlatan Ibrahimovic to turn and start playing his team-mates in?
If you get Henderson and put him in that area, what he does very well is provide cover. It will be interesting to see how that works. For me, Henderson is a key player for Liverpool, no question about it whatsoever.
Carrick’s role
A lot of the recent talk concerning Manchester United has been about Michael Carrick. Everything goes through him. He brings the best out of the players around him and he gives licence to the likes of Pogba, Herrera, Mata and Mkhitaryan to go up and support Ibrahimovic.
I’m just wondering how Liverpool will go about dealing with that. The one thing that Jurgen Klopp might not want to do is to allow Carrick to get on the ball in deep areas.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Klopp told his players that when Manchester United have got the ball in deep positions, they have to go man-for-man on Carrick and stop him because he’s the player that makes things happen for United.
So they will have that high-press, but I think there will be an area in midfield where Liverpool will probably leave it little bit free. I think Klopp will tell his players to press high, but if that press is beaten we will see the players retreat and get into deeper positions to prevent United from getting behind them.
It’s going to be a fascinating game and I can’t wait for it. They are two very good tactical managers with two teams who can create a lot of problems for each other, and the most important thing is that both teams will believe they’ve got to win.

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