Saturday 23 March 2019

Old Trafford set for goals as United and Liverpool rekindle rivalry

With 20 goals this season, Liverpool striker Mo Salah is the man most favoured to add to his tally on Sunday.

The statistics offer encouragement to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)
The statistics offer encouragement to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

By Tom White and Ben Mayhew, Press Association Sport

Fierce rivals Manchester United and Liverpool renew hostilities in the Premier League on Sunday.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a statistical look ahead to the Old Trafford clash.

Goals galore

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(PA Graphic)

The two teams are on the longest scoring runs in the Premier League – Liverpool were held 0-0 by Bayern Munich on Tuesday but have netted in their last 18 league games, compared to United’s 13 – and there are further reasons to expect a high-scoring encounter.

United have scored at least twice in each of their last six home games, part of a 10-match unbeaten run at Old Trafford, and Liverpool are sure to respond in kind.

The visitors have only once failed to score in the league this season, against Manchester City in October, while only Tottenham in August and Crystal Palace in November have kept United at bay. The teams have been involved in only one 0-0 draw apiece.

The game should, therefore, be in stark contrast to the five meetings with Jose Mourinho in charge of United, before he gave way to interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following December’s 3-1 loss at Anfield.

Prior to that game, Mourinho presided over two goalless draws on Merseyside and a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 win at home.

Solskjaer’s record faces its toughest test

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, left, will be hoping he can call on Anthony Martial (Martin Rickett/PA)

Since their former striker took temporary charge, United have won every league game, save for January’s 2-2 draw with Burnley, with their only defeat coming against Paris St Germain in the Champions League.

Their domestic opponents in that run, Tottenham aside, have been far from formidable though. Indeed, in the current table, the highest-placed team United have beaten at Old Trafford this season are ninth-placed Everton.

They will be hoping Anthony Martial is fit to play at least some part – United have scored a goal every 42 minutes with the France star on the pitch this season, compared to every 58 minutes without him.

Jesse Lingard is another injury doubt but United can at least call on other players who have carried more of a goal threat this season.

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(PA Graphic)

Using expected goals (xG) data from StatsBomb, Martial’s shots this season are worth an expected 0.31 goals per 90 minutes – or roughly a goal every three games – to Lingard’s 0.23.

They rank behind Marcus Rashford (0.38), Romelu Lukaku, with 0.45 xG per 90 in limited action, and Paul Pogba with an impressive 0.50.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah tops the xG per 90 rankings across both teams with 0.58, with Sadio Mane (0.42) and Roberto Firmino (0.40) also dangerous.

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