Manchester United End Trophy Drought, Now Must Stop Fruitless Run at Anfield to Keep Premier League Dream Alive

    After a few dark years – by their standards – Manchester United seem to be coming into the light again, with last weekend’s EFL Cup win their first trophy since 2017.

    It may not be the most coveted silverware in England, but when a club so accustomed to winning starts to notice that the dust is gathering in the trophy cupboard, any tangible indication of success is not to be dismissed.

    But Erik ten Hag said it best on the Tuesday ahead of West Ham’s FA Cup defeat on Wednesday: “Get back to work.”

    Given United’s massive improvement under the Dutchman, there’s every reason to believe the EFL Cup won’t be their only trophy of the season – they might still be alive in the Premier League title race, the Europa League round of 16 clash with ” Betis”. waiting and they will be favorites against Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    However, the Premier League is the way to go and if they have an outstanding turn to win it for the first time in 10 years, misses are unthinkable from now on.

    A trip to Anfield is probably not what they want, is it?


    Of course, Liverpool’s 2022-23 season has been the Reds’ worst season in several years as Jurgen Klopp’s side are in the real fight for Champions League qualification.

    But there will be something of a psychological barrier for United to break when they travel to Merseyside on Sunday.

    United have not beaten the Reds at Anfield in the Premier League for over seven years, with their most recent win coming 1-0 in January 2016.

    During this time they suffered three defeats and a similar number at Anfield, making them the longest winless league away for Liverpool after a run of nine between 1970 and 1979.

    It has been a generally one-sided rivalry in recent years, with Liverpool going undefeated in eight consecutive games against United until this season.

    Their clash at Old Trafford in August certainly ended that streak – otherwise nine games without a win would have been United’s worst game against a single team in Premier League history.

    However, United’s latest trip to Anfield left deep wounds.

    last visit

    Having already lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool in 2021/22, it almost felt like things couldn’t get worse for United at Anfield last April.

    As for the bill, no. Technically a 4-0 defeat is better than a 5-0 defeat.

    But the statistics painted a particularly bleak picture for United after their second meeting of the season, which was itself extremely lopsided.

    Nine goals conceded in two games was the most United have ever scored against a single team in a single Premier League campaign.

    Also, the 9-0 aggregate loss was the second worst in their league history, and only 11-0 against Sunderland in 1892-93 – yes, the 1890s, not a typo from the 1990s – was a big margin. .

    Liverpool opened United in the fifth minute when Mohamed Salah put the ball on the plate for Luis Diaz to score.

    Sadio Mane then found Salah with an exceptional back pass to the Egyptian and made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute before the Senegalese star’s fine first half halfway through the second half brought the Reds home and a clean sheet – if they were already gone.

    Salah finished with a chip rejected, becoming the first player in Premier League history to score five goals against United in a single season after his hat-trick at Old Trafford.

    Then Liverpool were fully immersed in the application for a quad, having already won the EFL Cup.

    This time, remarkably, it is United who are in that position – they will hope to at least equal Liverpool by adding another title before the season ends.

    A turning point

    Matches against Liverpool proved particularly poignant during Ten Hag’s short tenure at United.

    He was officially announced as the club’s new manager two days after the Anfield bombardment in April, and four months later he took his first win against the Reds.

    That’s not to say his hiring was inextricably linked to the defeat at Liverpool – after all, reports in the weeks prior suggested he was the top choice. But at the time, it was believed that the club made the announcement after this defeat to appease the fans.

    Things then went well for him and United after a landslide 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in August.

    United, of course, lost their first two games of the season. Their humiliating 4-0 loss to Brentford on Matchday 2 saw them finish the day bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 1992. Ten Hag became the only Red Devils manager to lose his first two games in 101 years.

    But with the lowest expectations, Ten Hag left his mark. Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire were out and United won 2-1.

    Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford scored goals before Salah’s late repechage, and United showed promising signs of their offensive versatility.

    Since then, only leaders Arsenal (54) have scored more points than United (49) in the Premier League.

    It all started against Liverpool.

    The present

    For the Reds, a top four remains absolutely achievable – though United seem to feel the same way about winning the title, even if Arsenal are 11 points ahead (having played a game more).

    However, the supercomputer Stats Perform has calculated that United have only a 2.2% chance of usurping the Gunners and Manchester City, placing such ambition at “about the same chance as rehiring Ralph Rangnick”. 28.4% chance of getting fourth place.

    In that regard, a positive result perhaps looks more important to United, if you can really appreciate such things.

    But even if the league title proves out of reach by beating Liverpool in their own backyard, Ten Hag will break another major barrier for Manchester United by bringing them one step closer to the light.

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