It’s still too early in the season to be talking about title deciders but, as things stand, this game could certainly change the dynamic at the top of the table.
Winless in three in the Premier League, Liverpool dropped off the summit after their defeat to Southampton earlier in the month.
Manchester United, meanwhile, are unbeaten in 11 league fixtures, a run which has seen them overtake their fierce rivals and establish a three-point gap between them. While Leicester went second with victory against Southampton on Saturday, reducing United’s lead at the top to a single point, this still has to go down as a meeting between the established favourites.
Thanks to the disruption caused by the pandemic, Liverpool last faced United almost exactly 12 months ago. That game, also at Anfield, ended in a 2-0 win for the hosts.
While the match doesn’t need much more hype than that, Jurgen Klopp did his best in his pre-match press conference. “It’s Liverpool against United and that itself is a massive game,” he said.
“Wherever I would be in the world and there’s a television, I will watch it definitely. This is the game.”
Asked whether he’d have preferred to face United as league leaders as opposed to one of the chasing pack, Klopp said: “Both are pressure, because you either want to have something you don’t have in the moment or, if you’re top, you want a bigger lead or a bigger gap.
“I find it easier to be the hunter, the chaser, the challenger if you want, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t in the other situation as often in my life. We will see. My players obviously deal with both situations pretty well so far and that is absolutely fine.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, did his best to keep his players’ feet on the ground before the match. “It’s a test and reality check for where we are really at, because Liverpool at Anfield is one of the great challenges,” he said. “We have won many, many tight games, scored a few goals in injury time.
“We have not really set the world alight too many times. To win away at Anfield you really need to be at your best level.
“I would rather be on top and have the points than chasing. But we are the challengers, we are the hunters chasing the champions. It’s over the course of a long season and they’re the ones that everyone would like to beat.”