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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019
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The nerves are beginning to set in.

The biggest rivalry in English football rekindles at Old Trafford this afternoon and, as stated on these pages this week, rarely have the two sides met on such equal terms.

Liverpool’s victory over United at Anfield in December represented the last dying embers of the Jose Mourinho era. Dark storm clouds that had gathered since their summer tour finally passed, leaving uncertainty to fill the void.

And from the shadows of those dark winter days, a hero has emerged. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the icon of 1999, has revamped the club in the image of their former selves.

This is United 2.0.

What seemed impossible before Christmas now almost feels inevitable. As Chelsea and Arsenal cough and splutter in the race for top four, Solskjaer and his turbo-charged squad of superstars have mercilessly hoovered up 25 of the 27 points on offer.

They’re unbeaten in the league and have claimed scalps away to London rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea – the latter two coming in the FA Cup.

A win against the Old Enemy would undoubtedly raise calls for Solskjaer to be made permanent to ear-splitting levels.

Chelsea v Manchester United - FA Cup - Fifth Round - Stamford Bridge Source: Adam Davy

Liverpool, meanwhile, have more to worry about than getting one over on United.

The main threat to a historic Premier League title comes from the blue side of Manchester and with Guardiola’s side in Carabao Cup final action today, a win for the Reds would leave them three points clear at the top of the pile.

Stay with us as we bring you all of the minute-by-minute action live at Old Trafford.

Expect fireworks.

So, without further ado, let’s bring you some team news…

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, McTominay, Ander Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku.

West Ham United v Liverpool - Premier League - London Stadium Van Dijk, missing against Bayern Munich, returns to the starting line-up today. Source: John Walton

Liverpool: Alisson, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Fabinho, Mane, Salah, Firmino

McTominay in for United, Van Dijk back for Liverpool…

What did you make of today’s team selections? Let us know in the comment section below or you can tweet me @cian_roche.

With under 45 minutes until kick-off, let’s bring you some prescribed pre-match reading.

 

On the topic of resurrecting the old ‘United Way’ ahead of today’s game, Gavin Cooney writes that Solskjaer should learn from Liverpool’s lessons of attempting to recapture their former grandeur…

The concept of a ‘Liverpool Way’ became a dominant idea; this ethos that the club would not respond to the perversities of the modern Premier League and would instead stick to tradition and give a manager time.

How else to explain the ludicrous compromise of appointing Gerard Houllier and retaining Roy Evans?

What is lost when the past becomes too comfortable a refuge is its harsher realities: the Liverpool that was successful was as ruthless as Ferguson became at United.

You can read his full piece right here: United should learn Liverpool’s lessons and avoid finding answers in their rich history

Prediction time

With 30 minutes until kick-off, how do you see this one going?


Poll Results:

Man Utd (122)
Liverpool (111)
Draw (100)



“Would have played Sanchez. As bad as he’s been at least he runs around and presses defenders. VVD will have a nice holiday with Lukaku trudging about up there,” says Ray Taff in our Comments Section.

Has Solskjaer got his selections right ahead of today’s game?

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Sanchez in, Lukaku out? Source: Martin Rickett

Are you well? Because you’re looking well, Old Trafford…

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Old Trafford dappled in sunlight ahead of kick-off. Source: EMPICS Sport

“It’s been a while since I’ve been this pumped for a Man United v Liverpool game. Can’t wait. Myself and daughter with our jerseys on and having a party. Bring it on,” says Ben Jamen in our Comments Section.

That has been the overriding feeling building up to today’s game. Plenty of United fans would have gone into December’s game at Anfield with a certain amount of dread – but the mood over the last two months has completely transformed at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: EMPICS Sport

Speaking to Sky Sports, Solskjaer says Matic is missing with a muscle injury and will be out for a few weeks. A blow for United.

We’re closing in on kick-off.

Get the kettle on, the tea made or let the dog out now. You won’t want to miss a minute of the action.

Still time to vote in our poll below – How do you see today’s game playing out?

Let us know below.

We’ll have a mintue of applause ahead of today’s game in remembrance of the late Eric Harrison.

Here we go…

3Mins

Action in the opening 20 seconds of the game, Young’s backpass to De Gea is short and Frimino chases it down, with Mane following up.

An indirect free kick is awarded to Liverpool. Bizarre few moments of play.

Milner blasts the ball into the wall and it’s gone behind for a goalkick.

Blistering start.

7Mins

Liverpool have been hassling and harrying the United midfield. The home side are still looking to settle into this game.

Rashford runs at the Liverpool defence but he can’t wriggle through.

United break through Pogba and Mata but the Frenchman’s ball into the box is poor. Liverpool looking that little bit more assured in possession – that said the two sides are giving it back and forth to one another in these opening six minutes.

Rashford’s shot on seven minutes from outside the box is easily saved.

10Mins

United win a freekick after Rashford is fouled by Henderson. That chance slips by them. 

For those interested in the day’s other 2.05pm kick-off, Arsenal have taken a 1-0 lead at home to Southampton.

14Mins

United happy enough to plat it out from the back, but cough it up on 11 minutes. Mane has the chance to pull it back for either of his forward partners, but it’s cut out.

The home side are passing it out from defence, but it’s almost got them in trouble on one or two occasions.

Liverpool have been extremely effective in the opening quarter of the game. Milner, Henderson and Mane in particular looking to break up United’s search for fluidity through the middle of the field. 

No really clear cut chances as of yet.

15Mins

Free-kick on the edge of the box for Liverpool.

Matip skips by McTominay, Mata and is fouled by Herrera. Really good chance this for Liverpool…

18Mins

Skied. Mo Salah really, should have done better on that occasion.

Remains scoreless after the opening 15 minutes of action.What have you made of the opening quarter of the game?

Rashford appears to be limping out there – will he be making an early exit this afternoon?

Liverpool beginning to turn the screw on United with another dangerous ball into the box. It’s cleared.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

20Mins

United’s starting XI are dropping like flies out there. Rashford looks in discomfort out there, while Herrera also goes down to receive treatment.

Sanchez looks like he’s coming in – with Herrera making way.

Flag 20Mins

Substitution for Manchester United:

Andreas Pereira comes on for Ander Herrera.

25Mins

Liverpool win the corner. Ball comes to Van Dijk who can only loop the header back up in the air for De Gea to catch.

United break from this through Rashford, and win the corner.

Some more worry for United with Herrera already gone, Mata looks in a bit of discomfort too. Rashford has his hands on his knees as well.

This isn’t looking promising for the home side. 

Firmino down as well! We’re starting to resemble an emergency room at this stage.

Flag 25Mins

Substitution for Manchester United:

Juan Mata makes way for Jesse Lingard.

United have used up two of their subs in the opening 25 minutes.

29Mins

Again, there’s been no clear cut chances in the game so far. Just injuries. Lots and lots of injuries. Mainly to United players.

Firmino is back on the pitch after receiving treatment – but for how long?

Mane has been the stand out player up to this point up front for Liverpool and their defence for the most part has been untested.

30Mins

Salah squanders an early chance to put Liverpool ahead.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

Flag 31Mins

Substitution for Liverpool:

Roberto Firmino comes off in place of Daniel Sturridge, looks like an ankle issue.

32Mins

Three first-half subs. Not much in the way of chances.

Liverpool the side on top, probing time and again for some way through. Their chances out wide have come to nothing and Salah’s freekick on the edge of the box was sent high over the crossbar.

As for United? Much ado about nothing, I’m afraid.

38Mins

Another near miss for United.

The ball is lifted into the box by Milner, but Sturridge can’t connect with it. Lots of this United defending is hap-hazard, or a scramble to get the ball away by any means necessary.

At the other end, Pogba lines up a menacing shot from outside the box. Van Dijk heads behind. Corner comes to nothing. Still scoreless.

42Mins

WHAT A SAVE!

Lukaku slips the neatest little pass in for Lingard who’s one-on-one with Alisson – but the goalkeeper collects to cut out what looked a certain goal.

…And now Lingard is down. What is happening out there?!

Looks like he’ll come off for Sanchez.

Flag 43Mins

Substitution for Manchester United:

Jesse Lingard (who himself was a first-half sub) makes way for Alexis Sanchez.

43Mins

It’s been the story of the first half.

Injury after injury after injury.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

47Mins

SAVE! Lukaku has his header saved from close range.

And now it’s Liverpool’s turn (again) to worry about injury – Robertson is off receiving treatment for a moment before coming back on.

Can we just get to the break without any more injuries please?

Four minutes of added time at the end of the half.

It’s been a case of the walking wounded at half time in Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has been forced into making all three substitutions in the opening 45 minutes, while Jurgen Klopp said goodbye to Roberto Firmino through an ankle injury.

Not much in the way of chances, but Liverpool have been far the better side.

Rashford doesn’t look entirely comfortable, which could pose problems in the second half.

What did you make of that opening half?

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford How will Solskjaer shuffle his pack after the restart? Source: EMPICS Sport

Just an update for those that way inclined, Arsenal are 2-0 up against Southampton at the Emirates.

We’re back underway shortly, so take your seats…

50Mins

United have dropped deep now into their own half.

Long ball up to Mane and it’s headed down tantalisingly close to Sturridge, but De Gea comes out and collects.

Liverpool have stepped it up in this second half. They look untroubled by United’s pressing and look very dynamic up front in their runs from Salah and Sturridge.

53Mins

Pogba (who was offside) has his header saved by Alisson. The United crowd have found their voice.

They’ve won another freekick just inside the Liverpool half. Sanchez (who is also offside) sends his header wide.

Good defending on both counts for Liverpool.

55Mins

Henderson breaks up the right-hand side for Liverpool, but Shaw does well to block the cross. Corner Liverpool.

Swung in, bit of pinball in the box and it’s a free out to United.

Now it’s United’s turn to attack . Pereira wins a corner for the home side.

Smalling can’t connect and it’s cleared. The game is beginning to spark to life now – it’s a bit wilder, a bit more open.

57Mins

No this is truly remarkable: We’ve had 10 minutes of play in the second half and there’s been no enforced substitutions. No injuries. Miraculous.

Meanwhile, Rashford shoots wide from close range following Lukaku’s cross. 

59Mins

It’s been a lively start to this second half, approaching the hour mark.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: EMPICS Sport

63Mins

Lukaku, Sanchez and Pogba all link up but it comes to nothing as Pogba’s cross while slipping is collected.

Nothing really happening at the moment. Plenty of hopeful balls back and forward, but the final pass for both sides is just not there. De Gea and Alisson have plenty of mopping up to do but under no considerable pressure.

66Mins

Liverpool keeping a bit of sustained pressure on the United goal. Henderson lifts one in search of Sturridge – no joy.

What I’d do for even a shot on target at this point…

Wijnaldum skies his effort from the edge of the box.

71Mins

Rashford up front doesn’t really look at all comfortable up front, laboured in his running.

We’re into the last 20 minutes of the game – which up to this point has been pretty dour. So much for the hype (See: Introduction, ‘fireworks’).

Liverpool win a corner thanks to James Milner’s tenacious work, forcing Pogba into the slide tackle.

McTominay does enough to put Wijnaldum off, his header goes behind for another corner. It’s McTominay who looks like he manhandles Matip for the second set piece.

Dangerous times here for United but it’s still scoreless.

Flag 74Mins

Substitution for Liverpool:

Xherdan Shaqiri comes in for Jordan Henderson.

77Mins

OFFSIDE!

United have the ball in the net, but it’s called offside.

Their last three freekicks into the box they’ve been penalised for it. Close shave for Liverpool as it’s a tight enough call but the right decision.

Would have been an OG in off Matip, cross rockets off him into the bottom corner.

83Mins

Origi straight into the action. Crosses but there’s no one who can get on the end of it. Lukaku concedes a free and the delivery fails to beat the first man.

Young gives away another free from the resulting challenge, another chance to get it in. Low and driven, Young clears as the first man.

This has been dreadful.

Every half chance that’s needed a little ingenuity or skill has been entirely lacking.

91Mins

Into the dying embers of the game. 

Sturridge tries to sneak in at the back post but is penalised for a push.

Luke Shaw wins Man of the Match – there’s not been that many to chose from, truthfully.

He tackles Milner to the ground. Free. Headed away.

Young breaks down the right and he’s taken out. Wijnaldum is booked for his trouble. United look to pump this long.

Breaks out wide for Lukaku who crosses for SMALLING!!!

The defender hesitates instead of lunging at the ball and it runs wide. What a chance this late on.

The less said about that game the better.

Neither side deserved more than a point from proceedings and the early substitutions seemed to have killed United’s momentum before they even got going.

Liverpool, meanwhile, couldn’t fashion anything worth shouting about. The fact that Salah made way for Origi coming into the final period of the game says a lot about his impact on the game and what Klopp made of his performance.

Smalling had the chance to snatch an undeserved win for United but didn’t throw himself at Lukaku’s cross.

So, a point apiece means Liverpool return to the top of the league. United slip out of the top four thanks to Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Southampton.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: EMPICS Sport

“Mentally weak performance from Liverpool. Big chance to beat Utd today but bottled it,” says Munsterman in our Comments Section.

Phil M adds: “I think all those substitutions just ruined the game.”

Here, here, Phil. Have to agree with that.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: EMPICS Sport

Well that’s just about all we have time for this afternoon.

We’ll be bringing you all the latest reaction and reporting in the coming minutes, but for now that’s all  from me here.

Thanks for tuning in.

Bye!

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