Man United, Liverpool & a warning for the form books – from Rush, Klopp and more – Liverpool FC

It perhaps speaks to the general malaise at Man United that the build up to Liverpool’s FA Cup visit there this weekend has been low key.

At Anfield, much of the focus has been on last weekend’s thrilling title clash with Man City, as well as the steps taken toward a post-Jurgen Klopp future in the appointment of Michael Edwards.

United, meanwhile, have been caught up in lofty promises regarding the future of their Old Trafford home and hopes that better days are ahead with INEOS now in charge.

But, come kickoff on Sunday afternoon, fans of both sides lucky enough to get a ticket will leave no doubt as to the importance of this fixture.

And for Liverpool, the fervour that greets their visit will also offer a reminder that, contrary to the opponents’ recent form, this is unlikely to be straightforward.

Admittedly, confidence on Merseyside is fuelled by the fact that the statistics of United’s campaign make for damning reading.

Sixth in the Premier League table, 17 points shy of joint-leaders Liverpool, and with a goal difference of zero, there is no denying Erik Ten Hag’s side have been woeful this term.

But pride dictates that there is little chance they will allow their last chance at a trophy this season to be snatched away by their most bitter rivals without a fight in front of a baying Old Trafford crowd.

The Red Devils also have history on their side as they look to land a blow on their quadruple-chasing enemy from down the East Lancs Road.

For starters, despite having managed the better team of the two for the majority of his time in England, Klopp’s record away to United is not particularly strong.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (C) celebrates with team-mates Curtis Jones (L) and Rhys Williams (R) after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It took the German until May 2021, five-and-a-half years into his Anfield reign, to finally get his first victory at Old Trafford, which came behind closed doors.

And though he has claimed an unforgettable 5-0 victory there since, Klopp still has just two wins, four draws and three defeats to his name in M16.

It is, in fact, something of a theme of this rivalry that, even when the two teams’ fortunes have diverged, the ‘lesser’ side has always been able to bloody the nose of their superior.

Think United suffering just one defeat across 14 meetings between the teams from the start of 1983/84 to the end of the 1987/88 campaign, a period that saw Liverpool lift eight major trophies.

It is a record that probably wasn’t helped by the prolific Ian Rush managing just three goals against the Red Devils across 32 appearances against them in a goal-laden career – a statistic that underlines how unusual these games have tended to be.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, August 22, 2022: Manchester United's manager Erik ten Hag (R) greets Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Such struggles have not just been exclusive to Liverpool, either, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering United side once losing five on the spin – three of those at Old Trafford – to their rivals between December 2000 and January 2002.

Klopp’s job is made all the harder by the fact that Ten Hag will recognise the folly of going toe-to-toe with the Reds, with his approach instead sure to centre on defending deep and hitting on the counter with not insignificant quality.

As such, this game is more likely to be the archetypal derby in which the form book goes out of the window, rather than a rare comfortable afternoon for Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Of course, that would only make a win that keeps dreams of a perfect ending to Klopp’s time in England on track all the more sweet.

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