sport news Liverpool v Man United tactical preview: Fernandes and Thiago set for battle of ...

The most titanic clash between Liverpool and of recent years takes place on Sunday with three points separating the top two sides ahead of kick-off.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side's trip to Anfield could not have come at a better time after going top of the pile with victory against Burnley on Tuesday.

United have won each of their last four top-flight games and have remarkably not lost in the Premier League since the defeat by Arsenal in November when the Norwegian was heavily under the cosh.

Jurgen Klopp's Premier League champions meanwhile continue to feel the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence, with the Reds winless in the Premier League since their 7-0 mauling of Crystal Palace.

However, the Anfield side have a favourable record under the German against United on home soil, but how will both bosses set up, and where will the game be won and lost? Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the key battles ahead of this momentous clash. 

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen his men with their last four top-flight games

Jurgen Klopp's side meanwhile are winless in three Premier League matches

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's take on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in a titanic clash

Head-to-head record

may have achieved one of their short-term goals during the week but another presents itself almost immediately at Anfield.

The game marks exactly five years to the day since the club's last victory at their rivals' backyard, when a late Wayne Rooney strike settled a scrappy encounter.

That was Klopp's first experience of the historic fixture, but since that day in 2016, he has beaten the Old Trafford outfit on three occasions and drawn the other two on home soil.

The former boss only took two months following the defeat to exact revenge, seeing his side beat United 2-0 in the first leg of the club's first ever European clash in the year they reached the Europa League final.

United have not won at Anfield since a Wayne Rooney goal sealed a scrappy 1-0 win in 2016

United have not won at Anfield since a Wayne Rooney goal sealed a scrappy 1-0 win in 2016

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Two goalless stalemates failed to draw much notice thereafter but they have returned to winning ways in the last two seasons.

The first in the 2018-19 campaign came with Xherdan Shaqiri the hero and his two late goals to fire a lacklustre side to victory, and there was similar elation and eruption in the stands when Mohamed Salah finished a swift counter to seal another win in January 2020. 

Solskjaer believes United are 'in a good position' going into the latest instalment, but recent displays in this fixture will concern him slightly. Should he strike gold though, it could bring about the greatest reward in helping elevate players and fans' belief that this is their year.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Mohamed Salah have scored important goals in recent Liverpool success

Xherdan Shaqiri and Mohamed Salah have scored important goals in recent Liverpool success

Visitors need patchy Wan-Bissaka to come good

If there was one drawback from United's win at Burnley, it was that Aaron Wan-Bissaka failed to show any signs of rising from his current slump in what has been a frustrating season for him.

Constantly targeted by the Burnley attackers and bombarded with aerial duels from diagonal balls which he failed to win, his defensive output in recent weeks is now becoming of commensurate concern as his end product at the other end.

Reports claim the club are concerned about Wan-Bissaka's progress, with the right-back earning mixed reviews since his £45million move from Crystal Palace in June 2019.

There was very little from the 23-year-old going forward at Turf Moor and the club reportedly want him to register more assists, having managed just two this season and six altogether in his Old Trafford career.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's patchy form continued as he was targeted by Burnley's attacking force

Aaron Wan-Bissaka's patchy form continued as he was targeted by Burnley's attacking force

The 23-year-old has nevertheless proved his defensive credentials with his sturdy, reliable performances in 2020, but those will be put to the test when he is not in the best of form against the league's most ruthless finisher in Sadio Mane.

The Senegalese has nine goals and six assists this season and showed his aerial prowess against an albeit inexperienced Aston Villa in their FA Cup third round tie with a superb header to put the Reds ahead.

Without fail, he harries every single one of his opponents, and that is likely to continue on Liverpool's left wing as he tries to make himself a nuisance once more, while his threat in their air adds a whole new dimension to the conundrum Wan-Bissaka faces.

The basics are there in Wan-Bissaka's game to turn out a good performance, however the current signs look ominous at best. 

He will be up against Sadio Mane, who will look to challenge him out wide and in the air too

He will be up against Sadio Mane, who will look to challenge him out wide and in the air too

Fernandes and Thiago set to do battle in momentous midfield clash

The latest editions of this historic fixture have rarely been goal-fests, with Liverpool's 3-1 victory in December 2018 the highest-scoring game at Anfield.

But this match could well be the turning point where cagey, tight affairs turn into end-to-end thrillers, with two of the most creative players in Europe on the same pitch.

Bruno Fernandes' role in United's transformation into title contenders has been nothing short of stunning, with a whopping 15 goals and nine assists already this season.

Bruno Fernandes' role in United's transformation into title contenders has been enormous

Bruno Fernandes' role

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