Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to take on bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday in what could be a season-defining clash.
With Manchester City engaged in Carabao Cup action this weekend, victory would see the Reds pull ahead at the top of the table. Defeat, however, would hand City the initiative in the title race.
It’s certainly a huge game for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and the Red Devils pose a tough test for the Anfield club. It’s a challenge that pundit Paul Merson believes Liverpool will fail to rise to.
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The former Arsenal midfielder wrote in his Daily Star column that the difference could come down to the quality each side has in the middle of the park. Merson says “United’s midfield has more guile and goals in it than Liverpool’s. They miss Philippe Coutinho, someone who has that X factor and can produce something out of nothing.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will certainly be well up for Sunday’s clash and will fancy their chances. However, Liverpool’s midfield does have quality to win the battle in the middle of the park – even without Coutinho.
Liverpool sold Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million in January 2018. Since the 26-year-old Brazilian’s exit though the Merseyside club have reached a Champions League final and have emerged as genuine title contenders.
Prior to Solskjaer’s December appointment United were a side in dire trouble that had fallen away from the top four pack. Whilst they, and their midfield, have improved drastically since then, Liverpool’s title-chasing midfield contingent deserves greater credit than Merson is giving them.