Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Sunday for their highly-anticipated clash with Manchester United and will be hoping to get back to their sumptuous best after a disappointing – yet somehow also respectable – draw with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The Reds were made to rue their wasteful finishing – Sadio Mane, in particular, was guilty – and now face a difficult trip to Allianz Arena in March. More immediately, though, the Merseysiders must square off with bitter rivals United and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson thinks Jurgen Klopp’s side might bottle it.
Discussing his predictions for the weekend’s football on Sky Sports, Merson predicted a 2-1 win to the Red Devils, saying:
“If Liverpool get anything from this game, I think they have had a result. I am not saying that because I think Man Utd are a better team, but I think the pendulum has swung.
“You have a team that is very confident and a team that is very nervous and are snatching at chances. Look at Liverpool’s game against Bayern Munich – two months ago, they would have scored two or three of those chances.
“I think United will have a go. They are not a team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that will sit back. They will take the game to Liverpool, and I think the nerves of Liverpool will be too much.”
While the Reds hit a stumbling block in midweek, United bounced back from their Champions League defeat to PSG with a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup and look to have recovered from that first blip extremely quickly.
The Liverpool players must surely feel that they should never have let Bayern walk away from Anfield with a clean sheet, and the pressure may be getting them ahead of the weekend’s huge clash.
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Other than the bad blood between the two clubs, the tie is hugely important for the Merseysiders considering a win would ensure they go three points clear of leaders and champions Manchester City, who have a game in hand. Will the nerves be Liverpool’s biggest obstacle, as Merson predicts?