It's crunch time for Liverpool, and Sunday's looming trip to Old Trafford perhaps could not arrive at a worse time.
Under Jurgen Klopp the Reds and have got stronger and stronger as time has gone on, that much is sure.
Yet this season, ravaged by injuries and badly out of sorts, the Merseysiders find themselves on the ropes and running the very real risk of missing out on Champions League football - if not European football altogether.
In over five years with Liverpool Jurgen Klopp is yet to win a match at Old TraffordInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
It is almost incomprehensible given the ruthless, dominant fashion in which Klopp's troops stormed to the league title just 12 months ago.
Alas, football is a cruel game and Liverpool's recent squandering of points to both Leeds and Newcastle means top four is now more of a hope than any form of expectation.
And now, Klopp must take his under-performing side to the one stadium he has forever failed to get a result.
The Old Trafford fortress seems to have a mental edge on Liverpool and, with the stakes higher than ever before, Klopp must now pull off something he has so far failed to do during his tenure and ensure he returns down the East Lancs road with three points in the bag.The Theatre of Nightmares?
Klopp's record with Liverpool at Old Trafford is a curious one, given the majority of his reign has coincided with a rather dramatic faltering of United.
The Red Devils had drifted through the turbulent uncertainties of the Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho era, before residing with current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - yet all the while they have still managed to hold off Liverpool at home.
So, what is it? Why do Klopp's men embark upon Old Trafford stricken with worry?
To take a look back at each of the previous meetings, a pattern emerges which shows Liverpool all but pull up the drawbridge at Old Trafford, knowing that the one weapon United retained during their difficult spell was the ability to sharply counter.
Liverpool have a miserable history at Old Trafford but need maximum points on SundayInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Draw: March 2016 - Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (Europa League)
Draw: January 2017 - Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
Lost: March 2018 - Manchester 2-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
Draw: February 2019 - Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool (Premier League)
Draw: October 2019 - Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
Lost: January 2021 - Manchester United 3-2 Liverpool (FA Cup)
This has always been Liverpool's Achilles heel. For as good as they may have been last season, Klopp's men are always susceptible to a well organised and rapid breakaway simply because of how high up the field they commit.
It has worked wonders for Liverpool, enabling them to choke the life out of opponents for the last two years during their rise to the summit, but it does come with its potential downfalls. One only has to look at how Watford pulled apart the relentless Reds last season, before later getting relegated, to see that this can happen in any match.
Now, with United stable once more and on the march this season, the threat is more real than ever before. Last season saw United score on a quick breakaway at Old Trafford, courtesy of Daniel James sprinting down the wing to tee Marcus Rashford.
This was against a fully formed Liverpool defence, containing both Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip at the heart.
It goes without saying that Solskjaer will have designs on following a similar methodology this weekend, given Liverpool's defence is bereft of confidence and missing vital personnel.
Which leads Klopp to a rather burning conundrum regarding the ever-flexible Fabinho.Midfield needs its general
Fabinho is vital for Liverpool and when he is fully on song, the results very often end up being successful.
The Brazilian is the ever-ticking metronome at the heart of the midfield, with remarkable reading of the game, world class tackling and a wide-ranging pass repertoire which is up there with the best in the business.
All these stellar traits are a godsend for Klopp, though it is another one of Fabinho's many virtues which can ultimately end up being a bad thing.
The former Monaco man is so adept at playing a host of different positions that it is sometimes all too easy for Klopp to play the conservative card and slot Fabinho into the inexperienced back line.
Playing alongside the likes of Nat Phillips or Ozan Kabak, Fabinho has been able to offer a wise head on calm shoulders, and it will most certainly be something Klopp is considering this weekend with his side still sweating on the fitness of Phillips.
Fabinho is a colossus in midfield for Liverpool and provides the metronome Klopp's side need
Against Newcastle Fabinho filled in alongside Kabak, and Liverpool very nearly left the stadium with maximum points but for a complete lapse in concentration at the death.
A large part of this boils down to the lack of Fabinho's presence in midfield. When he is further back in the field, the unsettled ripple-effect permeates its way through the rest of the XI. This is heightened dramatically with the combined absence of captain Jordan Henderson.
It has already been proven, particularly during two