Watch Liverpool vs Man Utd on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm; kick-off: 4.30pm. Match highlights available shortly after full-time on the Sky Sports website and app
Sunday 19 January 2020 17:01, UK
The gap is huge. Twenty-seven points separates Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League table. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side go to Anfield as the only team to have held Liverpool this season - and fired up to end their rivals' unbeaten streak.
Liverpool's position in the Premier League is nothing but commanding. They are closing in on a first-ever Premier League triumph and a 19th English league title after 30 long years without the crown.
Jurgen Klopp's relentless Reds have put together a quite remarkable 38-game unbeaten run dating back to last January, amassing a record 104 points in that time. Week after week they have stepped up and delivered, winning every Premier League game this term - except for that 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Manchester United, in contrast, have been wildly inconsistent. They've lost to Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Watford and Arsenal this season. But when they get things right they can be dangerous. Just ask Chelsea, Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester City, who have all been beaten by Solskjaer's enigmatic side.
It's that record against the better sides - and the way Manchester United have gone about achieving those victories - which will give their travelling support hope on their journey up the East Lancs Road this weekend.
United are the only team in the Premier League with a better record against the top half than the bottom half. They've won five of the six games when they've had less possession (but only four of the 14 when they've had more).
Of course, going to Anfield, sitting back and playing on the counter-attack is easier said than done. There will be enormous pressure on the backline - marshalled by new full-time captain Harry Maguire, following Ashley Young's sale to Inter Milan - and United's forwards will have to make their rare forays forward count.
But it's a game plan which has worked in the past. And if it comes off on Sunday, it will be a sweet moment for everyone associated with United - even if it is ultimately only a brief hiccup on Liverpool's march to the title.
Midfielder Fabinho has been out since an ankle injury forced him off in the 1-1 draw with Napoli on November 27, while centre-back Matip has not played since Liverpool last met United on October 20 when he suffered a recurrence of the knee injury he first picked up in the win at Sheffield United.
However, the league leaders are set to be without James Milner, Dejan Lovren and Naby Keita again.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give Marcus Rashford the maximum possible opportunity to recover from the back injury he aggravated against Wolves in midweek, but the striker is unlikely to feature.
Rashford will undergo further assessments on Friday ahead of United making a late call over his fitness.
"I'm not going to hold my breath," Solskjaer said. "I probably think he wouldn't be ready. We're going to give him the absolute amount of time to find out."
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw is a doubt after missing the Wolves game with a hamstring injury and Eric Bailly is unlikely to be risked, while Paul Pogba, Marcos Rojo and Scott McTominay are all still out.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher on the Weekend Preview podcast...
"At times this season Liverpool have actually been caught out with a high line, and opposition have gone through on goal, and probably haven't made as much as they should have.
"That's something Ole will be looking at - can they get in-behind this Liverpool team? Liverpool will look to play high, squeeze the midfield and give United less space to play in midfield, so they'll have to be really clever in central midfield to get it to the front players."
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah...
"I think Manchester United play against me in a different way to some other players. They defend against me in a different way. It's a challenge, but I'm happy about that. As long as the team are winning, I'm always happy."
Sky Sports' Adam Bate on how Liverpool have built a squad entering their peak years...
Liverpool's success is one of strategy too and the clearest evidence of that is in the age profile of the team, providing Klopp with a key advantage over his rivals that should not be overlooked. It is not just that Liverpool have better players, it's that they have better players right now. A team of players who are each operating at close to the peak of their powers."
Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool in 10th place in the Premier League. Through maverick decision-making, masterful motivating and tactical dexterity, he's made them Europe's best.
But it's been a ride. Three cup final defeats in two-and-a-half years had many questioning his steel when it mattered, and Pep Guardiola's Manchester City had kept them second-best domestically. Now it's a case of when rather than if in their 30-year wait for the top-flight crown, and they're tumbling records along the way.
A squad transformation has played a part, but there is much more behind Klopp's influence at Anfield. Subtle technical changes, attitude shifts and behind-the-scenes genius have made them unstoppable.
Sky Sports' Ron Walker on how Manchester United could spring a surprise at Anfield...
On the surface, there is little evidence of unfancied United ending that run, but Solskjaer's side are perfectly set-up to play on the break - and since his return, they are the only Premier League opponent Liverpool have not found a way to beat.
United's ability on the counter-attack owes nothing to chance. Solskjaer consciously changed the gameplan shortly into his reign, and they are far more at home utilising their raw pace as the form of Anthony Martial, Dan James and Marcus Rashford has shown. When the manager arrived in December 2018, they ranked bottom in the Premier League charts for the number of fast breaks they had completed. By the end of the campaign, they were number one.
Liverpool vs Manchester United is live on Super Sunday from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.
Manchester United are going there scared. For the first time in many years, you could see Liverpool giving them a proper hiding. What does that mean for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? What does that mean for the young players? Marcus Rashford is carrying them.
Man United will not want to be embarrassed, but if Liverpool score quickly and get their two full-backs bombing, it could spell trouble.
I am not saying this is easy to do, but Liverpool have something within them right now that is saying they are not giving up the belief that they can go unbeaten. Liverpool have kept six successive clean sheets and that is telling us they have tightened up there.
United proved me wrong at the Etihad and they may do so again - but I can only see a very comfortable Liverpool win. This is Anfield, the crowd will want blood and for Liverpool to give them more; it is one of these days where Liverpool will flex their muscles, say they will be champions, and that is what I think will materialise.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-0 (9/1 with Sky Bet)