The biggest rivalry in English football is set to give the fans a treat this week as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United travel to a bigger and noisier Anfield on Monday. Liverpool have racked up some impressive performances in recent games and be high on confidence going into this game but like every other clash between the two English giants, this game will not be an easy one for either side. The summer spending spree from the Portuguese manager at Old Trafford has made the Red Devils squad a formidable one and there are a number of threats that the hosts have to be wary of on the night.
Of many such threats that might take the game away from Liverpool, Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic might post the biggest one. A top class European striker who has already helped the side to a trophy and more than 5 points in his first few games at the club. Zlatan has taken no time to showcase his ability in front of goal, scoring 4 in 7 games in the league this season. He has also shown his European pedigree opening his account for United even in the Europe League. He is in decent form and though he has scored just 1 goal in the last three league games, Klopp’s men will know that he has the ability to run away with all three points almost single-handedly. At least that is what the Red Devils fans and their manager will hope for.
However, making his debut in the league, Zlatan will travel to a few grounds this season that he has not played much at. Anfield, thanks to the lack of Champions League football recently, is one such stadium that Zlatan has not really got a chance to shine at. In the past, the 35-year old has faced the Merseyside outfit on 4 occasions. Twice in the 2004-05 Champions League with Juventus, losing 2-1 on aggregate. And twice as an Inter player in the 2007-08 campaign, losing 3-0 on aggregate. He is yet to win a game against the Reds, and more astonishingly is yet to score against them.
The fact that he got a whole of 11 minutes in these games makes it even tougher for Zlatan to have a huge impact on the game this Monday. Anfield is not a place that is easy to conquer as even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score a league goal at the ground. The atmosphere in the ground is overwhelming and even the best of the players in the league will find it hard to stay calm and concentrate.
Zlatan has never experienced the wrath of Anfield, atleast nothing close to one during a game against their nemesis and this might be a huge set-back for Mourinho who might find himself frustrated on the night. The 35-year old will have to act as the focal point for the attack for the visitors and he will have to provide them with the option to get out of pressure situations. But he will be dominated by the men in Red on the night and surely, he will find it hard to run the game at his pace. This might further affect United’s chances of a victory at Anfield. If Liverpool can keep the swede away from the goal and frustrate him, they will have taken a step closer to victory.
Do you think Zlatan can overcome his records against the Reds and come out on top on Monday?