How far behind Liverpool are Manchester United? And how do they catch up?
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Last Updated: 21/02/19 11:18am
How far behind Liverpool are Manchester United? And how do they catch up? They are the questions we put to the Soccer Saturday pundits ahead of Sunday's Sky Live clash at Old Trafford...
United were so far behind Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal but the ground they have made up under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been absolutely astonishing. There is still lots of work to be done, though.
The defensive partnerships have still been changing, the right-back position has never been set in stone, Luke Shaw will probably be the only regular starter, so those areas - it is quite obvious - need to be improved. They are quite fortunate that they still have the best goalkeeper in the world in David de Gea, too.
They are not as far behind as they were a few months ago, and not just in terms of points. I say that because of the way the two teams are playing now.
Manchester United are playing with freedom and are playing relaxed football. Liverpool look tight and tense. They are playing a bit like Manchester United were playing!
There are a lot of nerves in the Liverpool team. You don't see that with United now.
Liverpool have got to that because of the pressure, not because their manager is telling them to go out and not play. It's swung around. When Liverpool get into scoring chances they are getting tense and snatching at shots. United are putting chances away; they don't get loads of chances but they are finishing them.
I don't think United are a million miles away at the moment. The gap has closed. Over 38 games I am not sure, I think Manchester United need a few signings, but there isn't a lot between the teams right now.
The gap has been closed since Solskjaer came in. Some people talk about finance but also numbers of players. Manchester United have the best goalkeeper in the world. Liverpool have a very good goalkeeper who they spent a lot of money on.
Liverpool have one of the best centre-backs in the world. Manchester United's defence is way behind Liverpool's defence. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are average but the full-backs, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are excellent, and Joe Gomez will be a star. So they have the foundations of the defence and Matip and Lovren to cover.
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The only weakness for Liverpool is that the midfield is a bit too similar. Georginio Wijnaldum is slightly different. He is efficient, can nick the odd goal and also runs without the ball. So Liverpool only need a tweak to midfield whereas Manchester United probably have a bigger and better squad by reputation, but I don't think Romelu Lukaku will be there next season and I don't see futures for Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and maybe Alexis Sanchez.
I don't think Romelu Lukaku will be there next season and I don't see futures for Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and maybe Alexis Sanchez.
I think they need three key defenders, maybe one midfielder and then probably a replacement for Sanchez, who they might think about moving on from. Liverpool probably need a couple of players to keep the power going whereas Manchester United need six.
Matt Le Tissier
There is still a fair old gap there between the sides. Ole has closed it but Liverpool's consistency and the quality they have, especially at the back, means United still have some serious catching up to do.
If they are going to get close to Liverpool again, United have to strengthen in the full-back areas and strengthen at centre-back as well.